Sandra L Blood
If you missed Part 1 of this Feature, check it out here: AKUA Pt.1
A historic first anniversary:
As of November, MITTCO’s first 15 months proved more precious than anything else, which included a hub of activities and a historic first anniversary, designated by the UN as the official World Steelpan Day.
Akua said the period was good; had some hurdles; still haven’t seen financial profit, but he’s keeping his heart filled.
Bringing VVIPs closer to pan, manifested:
Among many others, touching pan at MITTCO under Akua’s guidance were T&T’s President Christine Kangaloo, her husband, a former WI cricket captain, Kieron Pollard and his family, the European Union’s Ambassador Peter Cavendish to pan, (who purchased MITTCO’s very-first commercially-produced pan); Chargé d’Affaires of the Embassy of the Kingdom of Netherlands, Harry Putker and a team of high-profile music executives as arranged/orchestrated by general manager of MusicTT, Melissa Jimenez.
Among Jimenez’s party were:
CEO of Tobago Festivals Commission John Arnold, Al McLean, Fela Oka, Solomon Sonaiya, Jhay C, and award-winning film-maker /Femi Oyeniran. Also included on the tour were visitors/tourists from Australia, Nigeria, UK and USA, who were in Trinidad to attend MusicTT’s third annual RVRB X Music Conference.
“It remains crucial to spread our culture, as it provides an excellent opportunity to establish connections, appreciate the heritage of other individuals, and allows for networking with organisations that support the art forms,” edified Akua.
The co-founder and Director of Sales and Business Development, said not only does he focus heavily on service as it pertains to selling, but educating and empowering both staff and customer, which are keys to the total experience.
Akua dreamt of factory tours:
Akua said he welcomes any and every one of all ages, local or international, in solo or group form, to the factory, whether specially invited, or booked [1(868) 612.4769] or randomly, and for those who are still in the dark about the evolution/development of the instrument, or the iconic pan music-makers on whose shoulders today’s stand on, will be enlightened.
Passionate about schools:
Akua said he’s always been very passionate about schools. “When I think of Pan on the whole, and I put it alongside schools, it’s almost impossible to stop filling that space.”
While many schools nationwide continue to be welcomed by Akua, the very first was Trinity All Generations School of the Arts (TAGS) two months after MITTCO was launched.
Akua was pleased to introduce MITTCO’s lone female pan groover Khadine Cadogan, who explained what’s required to be a great Pan groover: acceptable knowledge of steel drums or requisite material, impressive customer relations, business ethics, Maths/geometry and science; patience, alertness, vigilance, good health, optimum strength; precision, passion for the instrument and genuine love.
Akua’s other family:
Akua’s MITTCO family’s shaped by Junior Franklyn, Marvrol Paul, Juma Simmons, Khadine Cadogan, Marlon Dewsbury, Kareem Codrington, Simeon Superville, Wayne Richards, Johnathan Gill, Akil Boucaud, Cedric Brown, Cindy Rosemin, Chanikka Franklyn, Jordan Warner, Mark Quamina, Nicholas De Freitas, Mario Joseph, David Hackett, and John, Robert and Joseph Hadad
The dream’s ‘enriching’:
The very humble, amicable and polite Akua said living his dream is enriching.
Returning to his original place of residence Diego Martin in business, giving back to the community/district and helping residents are most humbling and gratifying.
“I didn’t dream of any ordinary space for pan, but a multi-faceted one of eight pillars: Manufacturing Factory, Conservatory, Private Orchestra, Hall of Fame, Financial Strength, Museum, Pan Festival, and Proper Performing Space.”
Honouring very-first music teacher:
Akua said he didn’t forget the foundation that set his formal music spirit in motion. He said it was an immense pleasure to have welcomed his very-first music teacher to MITTCO, showing her how she rubbed off on him.
Notwithstanding the impressive registry of other steelpan businesses locally and internationally, Akua said competitiveness is very salutary and encouraging.
“I deeply respect them all. They laid foundations which can and must be built upon, and as similar to any other business, while there’s competitiveness, it’s not a war but a love – opportunities to identify hidden niches, target new markets, diversify and modernize supplies, boost and diversify economy and employment/careers, and enrich entrepreneurial spirit.”
Akua’s focus on and passion for empowering others sees Joshua Joseph, Tameka Johnson, and Natasha Joseph being part of the MITTCO music academy.
Creating constructive black history through pan:
On November 2, at the T&T Chamber of Industry and Commerce Gala Champions of Business Awards 2023 Finale held at NAPA, Akua’s dream, MITTCO, received the 2023 Breakthrough Exporter of the Year Award.
He thanked the presenter of the award, Navin Dookeran, CEO, Exim Bank, and appreciated his MITTCO family.
“Heartfelt gratitude to our dedicated team and our supportive community. This recognition wouldn't be possible without you. Together, we'll continue to reach new heights!”
Akua Leith, also caring husband and father: “I will continue to respect, love, like and represent the instrument, pan, its artform, culture and T&T. Given what those that have gone before have done with limited resources, I’m devoted to doing my best in making a contribution towards the evolution beyond what the icons have already done. I love seeing others embrace and enjoy pan. I will continue to thrive on discipline, commitment and hard work, and will continue to dream big!”
Akua wishes to extend gratitude to the Hadad brothers, Pan Trinbago, his team including tutors, ambassadors, Japan and Iowa-linked, supporters, and family.