David Rudder was among four CARICOM nationals who were conferred with the Order of the Caribbean Community (OCC), at the opening ceremony of the 43rd Regular Meeting of the Conference of Heads of Government of CARICOM, in Paramaribo, Suriname last Sunday.
The other awardees are CARICOM Secretary-General, Ambassador Irwin LaRocque, cricketer, Sir Vivian Richards, and Former Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Barbados, Dame Billie Miller.
After receiving his award, Rudder thanked CARICOM for the honour.
“I’m deeply humbled. Thank you Caribbean Community,” he said.
Speaking to the Caribbean Camera from his Canadian home in Ajax, Ontario, the newly titled Honourable David Rudder said that he was quite surprised by his selection for such a prestigious award. “It felt like a dream. It also felt great. You know, you always want to know how much of an impact your work, your art, is having beyond your normal sphere of living. This gives me a sense of how far I’ve progressed in life.”
The Order of CARICOM award is given to “Caribbean nationals whose legacy in the economic, political, social and cultural metamorphoses of Caribbean society is phenomenal.”
Rudder is proud to be counted among a number of well-regarded Caribbean high achievers who have received the OCC – first conferred in 1992. The first awardees were Dr. William Demas, former CARICOM Secretary-General; Sir Shridath Ramphal, former Chief Negotiator of the Caribbean Regional Negotiating Machinery (CRNM), and former Commonwealth Secretary-General, Chairman of the West Indian Commission, and former Chancellor of the University of the west Indies (UWI); and Mr. Derek Walcott, distinguished and internationally acclaimed poet and playwright, and 1992 Nobel Prize recipient for literature.
Being in such august company, Rudder said, “means a lot to me. I sometimes feel that the arts do not get the respect it deserves. I feel that this allows me to feel that it [my award] represents all those who have something to say. So I accept it on their behalf. You know, I reached a point where I was getting a bit jaded and not as eager to produce at the same level to which I’m accustomed. But this award tells me that I should go on.”
Over the years, the list of awardees has expanded to encompass a range of other persons including former Heads of Government, sports personalities, regional creatives, representatives of the legal fraternity, members of academia, economists, members of the medical profession.
Among them are people whose origins were both exalted and humble. David Rudder is from the latter category. He said he grew up in a one-room house in Trinidad and has memories of his mother’s struggles to maintain the household.
“My mother will celebrate her 100th birthday later this year. And even though she doesn’t say much anymore, I hope she will be made aware of my award. It would mean a lot to her.”
Rudder was at a loss for words as to why he was chosen, but he suggested that perhaps it’s because he stays in constant contact with his country and the rest of the Caribbean “telling the stories of the Caribbean.”
Even though he doesn’t tell as many stories as he once did. He said that there was a time when he produced an album every nine months but that level of production has tailed off somewhat. But he hopes that with this recent boost to his profile “it could be an inspiration to young artists to encourage them to follow their dreams. Maybe, I do have something to say.”
The awardees received an 18-carat gold medallion with a specially designed ribbon to be worn around the neck.
The recipients also receive a smaller version of the insignia as a lapel pin, and a scroll detailing their outstanding achievements.
OCC recipients are bestowed the title ‘Honourable’, along with the suffix OCC following their names. In addition, they can work and acquire property in any Member State. OCC recipients, their spouses and children under the age of 18, also receive special travel documents designed to facilitate travel in the region.