Forty-six years after becoming the only pannist to win the National Panorama Competition as a player and arranger, music icon Steve Achaiba has a street named after him.
Achaiba, a former music teacher at St Joseph Convent, San Fernando, died in 2018 at age 74. Yesterday, his wife Candace, daughter Adrianna and son Jonathan joined San Fernando Mayor Junia Regrello in unveiling the street sign in Broadway. The street, which connects Lady Hailes Avenue to Independence Avenue, had no name.
Regrello said it was fitting that the council chose that street as it leads to Hatter’s Steel Orchestra where Achaiba arranged for many years. It also leads to the Roodal Cemetery, which his grandfather, former San Fernando mayor Timothy Roodal donated to the City.
At yesterday’s statutory meeting at the San Fernando City Hall auditorium, Paradise/Springvale councillor Naigum Joseph raised the motion to rename the street in honour of Achaiba. Pleasantville councillor Robert Paris seconded, and the council voted in favour.
Speaking under the street sign, Regrello said most of the roads and streets in the City are named after past governors, mayors and politicians. He said, however, that they were not the only people to shape the City’s landscape.
“You look around at the people from the cultural aspect and the role they played. In a panyard, you encounter various types of people, particularly those from the lesser-known and lesser level of society. For you to manage a group of people, that speaks tremendously about your leadership and management skills, and that is what Steve was able to do,” Regrello said.
Achaiba’s wife Candace said it was a privilege now that San Fernando acknowledges her husband’s work in steel pan music. She said from childhood, Achaiba dedicated his life to steelpan. During those days, there was no wealth in the art form, only passion.
Adrianna, who follows her father’s footstep as a steelpan teacher, said her family is grateful. She said it was an honour as a citizen to show people that her dad’s name sits at the head of a street and the story behind it.
After moving on from Guinness Cavaliers, Achaiba arranged music for Hatters in the 1970’s, where he won the National Panorama title in 1975, the only band in South to achieve that feat.