Category Archives: General T&T

Getting world history right: real African history

By Dr Kwame Nantambu
June 27, 2022

Dr. Kwame NantambuYears after the United Nations General Assembly proclaimed 2011 as “The International Year for People of African Descent”, it must be realized that the European enslavement of African people or the “MAAFA” (“great disaster”) only represents .01 per cent of the history of African people on this planet. Put another way, for the 99.9 per cent of their history, Africans were a free people.
Continue reading Getting world history right: real African history

The politics of redemption

By Dr Selwyn R. Cudjoe
June 27, 2022

Old pirates, yes, they rob I / Sold I to the merchant ships/ Minutes after they took I / From the bottomless pit / But my hand was made strong /By the hand of the Almighty / We forward in this generation / Triumphantly.

—Bob Marley, “Redemption Song”

PART I

Dr. Selwyn R. CudjoeIn the 1970s I had the privilege of teaching the late Fr Henry Charles at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA. He was one of the most brilliant students I have ever taught. In fact, he was more brilliant than I in certain respects. I taught a course on West Indian literature, and he seemed to know everything about the writers we were discussing. I deferred to him on many occasions when difficult questions came up in class.
Continue reading The politics of redemption

Anti-colonial Father of the Nation

Book review by Dr. Kwame Nantambu
Professor Emeritus, Kent State University, USA
June 24, 2022

Dr. Kwame NantambuThe history of the trade union movement in Trinidad and Tobago would be incomplete and unfinished if the life and times of the man called Tubal Uriah “Buzz” Butler are not the DNA of such a history. Butler was accredited as being the “Chief Servant of the Lord.” That was indeed the invisible “Buzz” in his revered personality. Butler believed that man’s purpose in life was the fulfillment of God’s purpose and as such, his inherent belief system informed him that he owed no obligation to anybody but to God.
Continue reading Anti-colonial Father of the Nation

What’s in a slave name?

By Dr Selwyn R. Cudjoe
June 20, 2022

Dr. Selwyn R. CudjoeThe controversy started when Camille Robinson-Regis called Kamla Persad-Bissessar out of her name. Kamla responded by casting aspersions on Camille’s “slave name”, which played right into a deep cultural fissure that exists within our fragile social structure. Whatever the merits of either argument, as my mother would have said, “Is de answer does bring the row.” Hopefully, in this case, the answers should allow us to see our cultural blindness.
Continue reading What’s in a slave name?

Benefits, not increases

By Raffique Shah
June 20, 2022

Raffique ShahIt’s not so much that in a complex new world forged and driven by technology that comprises lightening-speed communications and incredible capacities for generating, processing, storing and distributing information that trade unions have been blindsided by microchips that could signal their demise.

Indeed, as my comrades make their way to Fyzabad today for the march and rally, they should feel proud to be part of an organisation that, during its 85-year history in Trinidad and Tobago, has, pound-for-pound, contributed more than any other toward the upliftment of the society. For people who have never participated in or attended the annual event, shame on you. I mean no insult when I say that you will brave storms and travel to Wah-he-oh-ho where alcohol and “wining” to sweet soca music are the only items that are on the agenda.
Continue reading Benefits, not increases

The Indentures Did Not Affect the Wages of the “Apprentices”

By Stephen Kangal
June 14, 2022

Stephen KangalIndians were recruited by ” arkatias” and transported to work on the cane-fields of Caroni in Trinidad because after a period of keen observation and analysis by the occupying British and based on their experience in sugar cultivation in India (UP and Bihar) and taking into account the extreme famine of the 1850’s it was decided that perhaps with the advice of the established East India Company, Indians were going to be the most effective and economic type of unskilled labour to increase sugar production and achieve increasing efficiencies.

This was a business decision taken by the planters.
Continue reading The Indentures Did Not Affect the Wages of the “Apprentices”

Doh mess with ma name

By Dr Selwyn R. Cudjoe
June 13, 2022

Dr. Selwyn R. CudjoeAkan people of Ghana, from which my lineage springs, have a naming ceremony eight or ten days after a child is born. It is called the Outdoor Ceremony, where the child is brought into the outdoors to see the light of day.

During that ceremony, the child is given a name that confers a specific identity upon him or her. Not a tear is shed if that child dies before the naming ceremony. It is as if that entity never existed, so precious is a person’s name in that society.
Continue reading Doh mess with ma name

Blame the ‘haters’

By Raffique Shah
June 13, 2022

Raffique ShahBeing both a product and an architect of the age of love, peace and happiness, and belonging to a generation that opposed war and promoted peace, that even as I became a soldier, a highly-trained killer—we actively and successfully hounded America out of Vietnam and Cambodia, transformed colonised Africa into a battleground for liberation, and we set the world in motion such that generations marched together in countries across the world chanting, “All we are saying, is give peace a chance…’
Continue reading Blame the ‘haters’

Indian Arrival Day Celebrations Not Historically Driven

By Stephen Kangal
June 07, 2022

Stephen KangalIndians came here to increase sugar production reaching 200,000 tonnes in the 1960’s and not to decrease the cost of sugar production as their wages/conditions were set. They were deceived into believing that they were coming to “chalay chinee”. We cannot be misled by Cudjoe’s Afro-centric lenses because the jahajees were already versed in sugar cultivation in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. What did the Indians think or have in their minds as they embarked from Kidderpore Docks in Calcutta bent to Trinidad after enduring the Indian Famine of 1850’s? They survived the “Kala pani” and the “pagal samundar” en route to create a better life for us. They worked for a mere pittance that was superior to what they left in UP and Bihar and did not come on their own to compromise the high wage demands of the apprentices.
Continue reading Indian Arrival Day Celebrations Not Historically Driven

Origin of Indian indentureship in Trinidad

By Dr Selwyn R. Cudjoe
June 06, 2022

Dr. Selwyn R. CudjoeOn the celebration of Indian Arrival Day, May 31, an Express editorial recounted: “On this day 177 years ago the Fatel Razack entered the Gulf of Paria with over 200 Indians aboard, the first of 143,939 citizens of India to be brought here under a British scheme to deal with a shortage of labour following the emancipation of enslaved Africans in 1834–38.”
Continue reading Origin of Indian indentureship in Trinidad