September last year a Guardian columnist did a very interesting article about doing the Afrocentric Hustle, it was, I think, a useful article. In it the writer tried to show the dangers of ethnocentrism within the Afro-Trinbagonian community and how it stultifies growth. He made his usual jabs at the people, artists, writers here who identify themselves as “afrocentrists” and in a way made suggestions. I had hoped that the column would have been the start of a series of columns wherein he’d depart from his usual style -which usually blames the PNM, accuses UWI of being stupid and Afrocentric, equates PNM with Black, attacks Carnival and a few other Creole (read Euro/Afro) cultural forms and defines them in a negative light – and actually do a series of pieces that look at various ethnocentricities that exist in this space. It’s not just Afro-Trinbagonians that have issues, or whine about them. Speak to members of the Euro-descended community here and they have issues…very valid issues….they see themselves as the group that pioneered and developed this place and now are forgotten, marginalised, forced to exist on the peripheral of society, unable to step into the spotlight for fear of the ghosts of colonialism rearing its head because for the Afrocentrist Massa Day aint quite done. But I’ve not yet seen that column. I had hoped to see subsequent columns that would discuss how the real ethnic minorities here of the Amerindians, Chinese, Arabs, Portuguese feel about being in this space, contributing to its development and yet being entirely ignored when it comes to political and social contributions….in fact we only know about Amerindians when it comes to history books, and Arabs, Chinese and Portuguese are useful when we need contributions from the business community….riiiight? Trust me, there isn’t a group here that doesn’t have hurts that it is nursing and wants aired. Some groups air their hurts more so than others. And 50 years after Independence you keep wondering who cracking this invisible whip on us.
But the group I had hoped that this writer would deal with the most, because he “resemble”s them, are of course the Indians. In a society that seems even more bi-polar now than it was 50 years ago, Trinidad has made the shift from an Afro-Euro binary to an Afro-Indo binary that leaves the entire country (Tobago too) sucked into a vortex of racial and ethnic tension.
It would have been instructive for us to have explained for us what grievances the Indo-community have and to have the behaviour of their centrists explained. The complaints that come out of the Indian community are numerous, but it can usually be boiled down into on large complaint of having been marginalised and oppressed by the Afrotrinbagonian community. There is hardly ever any real discussion about the impact of colonialism on all of our post-Independence frameworks. Nor is there any acknowledgement that the status quo of race and ethnic hierarchisation has remain in place for forever and that despite things like Independence and post-colonialism we all still oppress each other, not because we should, but because we can. We also don’t acknowledge that the spirit of vengeance and retribution propels our politics. Williams sought to get back at white colonialists and made this fairly apparent in his Massa Day Done, speech; and the triumphalism of 1995′s “Indian Time Now” seems to be enjoying a second life under the People’s Partnership. And we seem uncomfortable in calling the triumphalism what it is…..ethnocentric to the point of racist. The impression given under Panday’s regime and now under Kamla is that Indians were kept away from the feeding trough and now must gorge themselves as much as possible to make up for their absence from the table. And the feeding frenzy goes on at the expense of the country’s development
I read a few posts from the Jahaji Desi group this morning and had to shake to my head. None of the posts, from people who I am sure will tell you they are patriots, focused on putting the country first….every single comment was geared to promoting friends and cronies and keeping the status quo and ideology of ethnic troughing ( over country) first. I read it and smiled.
Take a read of this contribution and formulate your own opinions. For my part, we really spinning top in mud in this place, oui. Ethnocentrism from all groups alive and well here. Trinidad going nowhere fast….De Vice Cyah Done:
My Brothers and Sisters I greet you in the name of Allah, the beneficient, the most merciful.
As you all know, I only blog when I have sufficient and well founded information that is worthy of sharing to all. I start here and now with what may be an epic piece before the Hon Prime Minister shuffles her deck of cards.
From the moment of her announcement to now, there has been bets, thoughts, feelings, rumours and speculations of all sorts as to who will she move, who will be fired and whom shall she promote or demote as the case may be.
My friends, the information given to me is extremely disheartening, discouraging and demotivating for anyone who has placed their trust and confidence in the PP Government and by extension the Hon Prime Minister. I was today taken up within my Chambers doing an honest day’s work when I received several text messages and phone calls from persons known to me and the general public.
I must say that for the first time in a very long time, that I am extremely appalled and disappointed in the decisions coming out of this Cabinet Reshuffle. Restructuring or Reallignment. At the top of my friends’ concerns is that the Government continues to be hijacked and managed or lack thereof by the HINDU Oligarchy. The latest word is that the Prime Minister now feels sympathy for Minister Devant Maharaj and has now reconsidered her decision to remove him from her Government ever since his God Father Sat Maharaj called and begged for his “son”.
Devant Maharaj has done nothing for the Ministry of Transport but mismanaged, ill spent and over spent public funds. More over, there continues to be allegations, rumours and instances of his under handed behaviour, his under the table negotiations and his blatant racial attacks and victimisation of those who are not Hindu and not Indian.
Everyone knows that Minister Maharaj was trembling in his boots because the word was that he was first on the chopping block. Others have said that he should have nevber been made a Minister at first instance and that such a move was a disaster from the time it became an idea. Devant Maharaj has used none of his skills to develop the transportation network in Trinidad and Tobago, NOTHING has been done to upgrade PTSC, under Devant Maharaj CARIBBEAN AIRLINES was mismanaged, and has come crucially close to being bankrupt and up to its head in debt. Such actions alone should have been grounds for Kamla Persad Bissessar to request a letter of resignation from him. There has been no road safety campaigns or initiatives under his watch and as a matter of fact, road fatalities increased drastically with him as Minister of Transport.
It is common knowledge that nobody outside of the Indian Hindu category or the “little boys club” was employed by this Minister and worst yet those recruited first had to pass through the new Oma Panday of Government; Kristal Ramroopsingh for approval and recommendation.
If the Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago is serious about proper Governance, Transparency and Accountability she would not yield to the bias, greedy, stagnant and hyprocritical cries for Devant Maharaj to remain as a Minister of her Government. She has a duty to listen to the ground and to be balanced in her decision making and choices and not allow her HINDU-Ness blur her thinking and conscious. not only does the population which consists of Non Hindus, Non Indians and Non Traditional Voters reject Devant Maharaj but also those that sit in both Houses of Parliament.
The second issue that must be raised is the impending appointment of Chandresh Sharma as Minister of Works and Infrastructure………WHAT A DISASTER!!!
It is Public Knowledge that very little or nothing has been done in Local Government since Chandresh Sharma became the Line Minister. The population seemed to have accepted this and was subtly comfortable with his appointment since in the absence of work and initiatives from the Line Minister, there was still work being done by the Corporations. The Hon Minister himself will tell you that while his colleagues are burning the midnight oil, he focusses on his sleep and also not a single person can get as much as a dime from him, so dont even bother to consider asking for a job or a contract.
The Local Government Minister, is already accused of being the 10% man, the man that gives his brothers and relatives all the contracts and work that can be shared and better yet hires his friends and those that he knows will guarantee a cut back. So therefore, why would a right thinking or perceived right thinking Prime Minister move the MOST COMPETENT Minister in Cabinet (Jack Warner) and replace him with a walking failure and fruad called Chandresh Sharma? A piece of advice for the Hon Prime Minister, unless you wish the PNM to make your Golden Boy Chand a target for the courts and Golden Grove, keep him out of trouble and corruption and leave him out of the Ministry of Works and Infrastructure. Worst yet, if Minister Sharma enters the doors of MOWI, he would be before the courts charged with several corruption charges that not even Satya Sai Baba in his reincarnation could save him from.
JACK WARNER IS THE BEST MAN FOR THE MINISTRY OF WORKS AND INFRASTRUCTURE.
The third issue, strengthen the Ministry of National Security by adding Herbert Volney as a second Minister in addition to his Minister of Justice portfolio. His years on the bench as a High Court Judge and his knowledge of the Law ALLOWS HIS THE PERFECT OPPORTUNITY TO USE HIS SKILLS to assist the Brigadier in the eradictation of every crimes and in bringing down the Homicide Rate. Done not be fooled into thinking that because Jack Warner is doing a great job in MOWI, that he will be able to do so in National Security, he is already part of the National Security Council and he should serve there. The Ministry of National Security needs great minds and with Volney and Sandy at the helm you should be able to get the job done.
Utilise Collin Partap in the Ministry of Legal Affairs, create a Ministry of Youth Affairs and make Stacy Roopnarine the line Minister, she did a great job while serving as Parliamentary Secretary, she will make you proud if given that Portfolio.
Continue to allow Verna St Rose and Ramona Ramdial to work in Gender and Child Development.
The Government lacks diversity, it is Hindu dominated and influnced and this does not auger well with the non Hindus. I am a Muslim Brother and I know. There are varying Christian sects represented by the Ministers and Senator that have been apppointed. There are a mere three token Muslims in the House of Representatives, Dr Fuad Khan, Nizam Baksh and Ms Nela Khan who does absolutely nothing for the Government. There is one token Muslim in the Senate, Minister Fazal Karim.
Prime Minister this is a blatant insult to the Muslim Community. You are an Indian woman, you should understand the struggles of our Forefather from the Motherland to these shaores. In those days there was no Pakistan, India and Bangladesh but just one great nation called India, where Muslims and Hindus lived together, side by side. Mahatma Gandhi’s greatest pain in all of his Political Struggles was witnessing the separation of India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. Do you wish to continue in this tradition of separation and segregation? You have already taken Devant Maharaj and his cohorts to do so, why cause yourself to be labelled a Muslim Hater.
There are two Maharaj’s in the Senate, none of them are an asset to the Government or the Senate. Where are the Ali’s, Khan’s, Hosein’s, Mohammed’s, Wahid’s???? Prime Minister, there is a need to change things up a bit and given other opportunities to the youth. There is no element of Youth represented in the Parliament with the exception of Roopnarine, Ramdial and Partap in the House of Representatives. Where are the young people in the Senate? Danny Maharaj is a disapointment in the Senate and to the People of Siparia< walk the ground and you shall hear for yourself. Kevin Ramnarine is 40years old, he may be young but he is not a youth.
Recently there was a temporary appointment of two Muslims to the Senate, Jamal Mohammed and Shane Mohammed, Jamal Mohammed may cause you some embarrassment in his speeches but then again what about the younger Mohammed, he has potential to make good contributions as he has done in the past both on the platform and in debating. There is also the young Arnold Ram, a National Executive Member, who also has great potential. The young people need to be given a chance and not just be used as window dressing, afterall they decided the outcome of the Last General Elections and moreso they stood by you in your quest for Leadership.
Prime Minister and those that are listening, these are my few words of caution and advice. I hope they are heeded since Trinidad and Tobago is looking on and anxiously awaiting the good news or the disappointments that they may have to decide on how they vote in the next election.
Choose Wisely Prime Minister Kamla Persad Bissessar.
I wish you Allah”s Choicest Blessings.