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Letter: Respect our cosmopolitan history
Published on August 31, 2017Email To Friend    Print Version

Dear Sir:

I verily denounce the current attempts of crooks and dishonest brokers, wherever they exist, to demonize minority groups and peoples in our Republic. Any honest and objective glance at our post-colonial history would show that they are not to blame for the horrible failures of post-colonial reconstruction and construction.

Frankly, attempts to blame minority groups, the French Creoles, Syrians, Chinese, others, is cruel, dishonourable and dishonest. The current plantation model in which we exist has been perpetuated by majority races, the leaders, bureaucrats, technocrats, auditors and consultants who are blind, dunce or debauched. And not the peoples from one or two ethnic groups.

If such sentiments have arisen from the chronic racist rhetoric and political fashions currently fragmenting the United States, then they are misplaced.

These islands have been always densely speciated, geomorphologically, biologically and ethnically. A long ice age, Andean snow, large flood plains and riverine systems have created a densely speciated geological and biological culture in Trinidad and Tobago: Orinoco flow! Immigration to these lands have been from the South and North; at the time of Columbus’s arrival here, there were approximately 12 nations inhabiting every nook and cranny of these islands; from Toco to Mucurapo, from Moruga to Cedros.

The Spanish established a political outpost built on small estates and missions. They were genocidal artists. They liquidated left and right, raped, pillaged and herded the ‘remainders’ in missions: In Siparie, Savana Gande (Oropouche), Savonetta, Gran Couva, Tacarigua, Arima and so on. Many of the indigens fled, or committed mass suicide.

For a long time, with little or no gold here, the islands remained outpost societies, adjuncts to the mainland Viceroyalty in Gran Colombia, South America. But the island was teeming with biological and biotic life: fish, fowl, deer, every manner of wood and pharmaceutical “bush” plant.

The French arrived in the late 18th century, fleeing revolution in Haiti, Martinique, the French colonies, bringing with them their proverbial shiploads of parrot, wine, wives, children, slaves, books. They were planters, business elites, agronomists.

It is they who with African slaves cleaned out much of the forests and established a flourishing plantation economy in Trinidad. Sugar cane, and coffee, coconut, tonka bean, cashew, rum and so on. They introduced mechanized factories, a strong plantation economy; everything, politics, social life, education, transport, communications, health systems, religious houses, media, government, existed to support this economy, the plantation.

The British, invading in 1797, brought a strong bureaucratic civil service, further mechanisation of industry, and modern city life to the island: newspapers, tram and train, lights and electricals, police, prison, fire services, court, college, town hospitals, Red House and so on.

Little by little, the ignominies of slavery were ameliorated, many Africans fought tooth and nail, some were hung, criminalized, debauched; but there emerged small land holding class and mobile brown/mixed and black elites towards the end of the century.

Strong business and agricultural orientated groups of Chinese and East Indian indentures arrived towards the middle of this 19th century. The Syrians came first as itinerant traders towards the middle of the 20th century. All these groups fought massive colonial, social flagellation to discover their footing.

Labour, and educated brown/mixed and black elites led the local march towards Independence. The British efforts to hang on to Trinidad, and other colonies, fell apart with the advent of World War II. After this we were flung into the US political, cultural and economic sphere. They specialized in industrial plantations abroad; supported by gunboat diplomacy or friendly handshakes, spheres of influence, the CIA and culturally aggressive film, fast-food, fashion, news apparatuses.

The task of post-colonial reconstruction was put in the hands of a small educated elites, backed by dominant party support. When the political classes went into decay, Black Power and Labour challenged. But were soon splintered. A US warship lay waiting in the Gulf. All the groups, tribes, ethnicities panned out; each doing what they did best; the decay never stopped.

Only cultural renascence, rebirth, revolution, in pan, parang, tassa, chutney, kaiso, dance, sport, song and music, saved us. And dedicated entrepreneurship across the board.

Today, the Republic is undercut by a besmirched and colluding bunch of bureaucrats, technocrats, consultants, parliamentarians, professional hacks.

Non-violence, affordability, sustainability, and reform of our transport, security, education, health, food production sectors remain on hold. The new elites have moved us further into plantation.

The greatest act of plantation re-colonization was the Government’s Master Gas Plan of 1999. An attempt to recolonize the islands with a belt of industrial estates, ports, a mega highway and gas industries with Australian/US, Chinese, Brazilian, Indian, Canadian ownership, collapsed. These global corporations would have left us with economic, social, ecological fragmentation, pigfoot; and they would have gone off with the hog.

The dominant resistance against this attempted plantation re-colonization by our facilitator politicians, bureaucrats, technocrats, lugging their parties behind them, for stormtrooper effect, came from the intelligentsia on the ground. From Chatham to Savonetta. From men and women of conscience in law, labour and media. And from botanist Professor Julian Kenny, economist Mary King, physicist Peter Vine, engineer Cathal Healy-Singh, businessman and activist Gary Aboud, environmentalist Rosanna Farmer, intellectual Burton Sankeralli, artist Peter Minshall – children of the proverbial white or minority groups.

Any attempt to scapegoat our peoples on the basis of race or ethnicity is unethical, cowardly, opportunistic, distractive, dishonest; and ultimately will descend into brutish broad-based bigotry.

Wayne Kublalsingh
Reads : 2866

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