Category Archives: Culture

A More Reflective Society

By Dr Selwyn Cudjoe
January 05, 2021

“So Trinidad was and remains a materialist immigrant society, continually growing and changing, never settling into any pattern, always retaining the atmosphere of the camp… [This explains] its special character, its ebullience and irresponsibility… an indifference to virtue as well as to vice.”

—VS Naipaul, The Middle Passage

Dr. Selwyn R. CudjoeIn 1960 Eric Williams, premier of Trinidad and Tobago (T&T), suggested to VS Naipaul, one of our premier writers, that he write a non-fiction book about the West Indies that the T&T government would support financially. Williams assured Naipaul he “could write about any aspect of the region and visit whatever territories [he] wished” to accomplish his objectives.
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The Potency of the Word

By Dr Selwyn R. Cudjoe
December 15, 2020

Dr. Selwyn R. CudjoeThe savage murder of Ashanti Riley touched many of us. It led us to reflect upon the kind of society we have created and the citizens (social beings) we are cultivating. Ashanti’s murder led the prime minister to talk about “the monsters” we are cultivating within our midst. Phyllis Bruce, another mother whose Black son vanished on March 19, sympathized with Ashanti’s mother in her grief: “Even from one mother to another, I can’t find the words to comfort her. But I would say to her, be strong. Hold on. Keep courage” (Express, December 11).
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Opportunities lost

By Raffique Shah
September 07, 2020

Raffique ShahEarly morning Independence Day. I switch on the television, remembering that there would be no military parade this year, thanks to Covid-19, the Great Destroyer. So what is there to watch? On CNC3, I catch the last few words of the Prime Minister—rerun of an interview he’d done with Natalee Ligoure a few days ago. Then the host excitedly introduces 2020 Panorama champions, Desperadoes—their winning performance on Carnival Saturday night.
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Kaiso ’til yuh puke

By Raffique Shah
February 25, 2020

Raffique ShahI was pleasantly surprised by the quality of many calypsoes I heard during the first half of the Calypso Monarch finals last Thursday night. My self-regulated sleeping hours did not permit me to take in the second half, which I’m sure was better. But based on the performances I watched and listened to, I can safely say that calypso is on the rebound, albeit slowly. For this, we need to thank the young bards who have decided to stay with traditional calypso even if they sometimes venture into the soca arena to share in its rich rewards.
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Puttin’ Yo Self in People Mouth

By Dr Selwyn R. Cudjoe
February 18, 2020

Dr. Selwyn R. CudjoeJudith Reyes is my neighbor. Our parents lived in the same spot for over eighty years. Neighbors thought our mothers were sisters. Judith’s brother Giles and I live like brothers. We have never quarreled with each other.

Every morning when I am in Trinidad Judith sends me a cup of porridge with prunes in it. She makes it clear that she is not doing that for me. Rather, she is doing this for my mother who she reminds me was my protector. She says: “Yo’ know how much candles yo’ mother light for you at Mt. St. Benedict?”
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Pan Potential

By Raffique Shah
February 17, 2020

Raffique ShahAs I savour some of the best offerings from this year’s Carnival from the comfort and safety of my home, I cannot help but think of the thousands of performers and revellers out there who, even as they immerse themselves in the gaiety of the festival, must ponder the possibilities that they might become victims of some criminal act before the day or night is over.
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Americanization of life in T&T

By Dr Kwame Nantambu
December 03, 2019

Dr. Kwame NantambuNow that Trinbagonians have already successfully completed their “shopping mayhem” per “Black Friday Sale: Back to Black savings with huge Discounts,” “Black Friday super sale,” “Black Friday 3 Day Sale,” “Black Friday Deals,” “Black Friday Sales,” “Black Friday Weekend Super Sale” plus “Best Black Friday Deals … Today Only” and in the process overtly and scandalously imitating the ex-post United States Thanksgiving Day, Thursday 28 November events/activities, it is indeed apropos to examine the Americanization of specific aspects of life in T&T.
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Salute the London clan

By Raffique Shah
March 09, 2019

Raffique ShahHaving written last week that I did not see the successors to Sparrow and other icons in the pantheon of great calypsonians of Trinidad and Tobago, hence of the world, I think I must be man enough to apologise to the London family, three of whom won the four most prestigious calypso titles at stake this year.

Uncle Brian, who composed the winning songs for nephews Ronaldo and Rivaldo, beat a formidable field (Gypsy, Myron B, Black Sage) to take the ex-tempo crown convincingly, having failed on several previous occasions. Ever since his entry into the calypso arena sometime during the first decade of the Millennium, Brian has consistently maintained high standards as a composer and singer. He was selected for the monarch finals on five occasions (1st runner-up in 2010), and the ex-tempo finals more than that.
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The Carnival is over

By Raffique Shah
January 09, 2019

Raffique ShahI was pleasantly surprised when the announcement by the National Carnival Commission that it was scrapping the North Stand for this year’s Carnival did not elicit an uproar of objections from stakeholders in the national festival and hordes of party animals whose love for steelband music lasts one day—the National Panorama Semi-Finals.

For all its symbolic representation of the spirit of Carnival, crammed as it was (note tense) with more than its 8,000 maximum capacity, the North Stand was a colossal waste of taxpayers’ money. For close to 50 years, ritually, every January, contractors and hundreds of workers would engage in a frenetic exercise of erecting the facility, only to dismantle it two weeks after Carnival. The cost? Four million dollars.
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The Museum of African American History

By Dr Selwyn R. Cudjoe
January 08, 2019

“The past is all that makes the present coherent.”

— James Baldwin, Notes of a Native Son

Dr. Selwyn R. CudjoeIt was a rainy afternoon in Washington D.C., the Friday after Christmas, when I paid a chance visit to the National Museum of African American History & Culture. I had heard so much about this fantastic museum and the attention it has drawn throughout the U.S. (United States) that I did not expect to get a ticket to explore its wonders. I took my chances and was lucky to enter its gates. I didn’t regret it. It was one of the most impressive museums I have ever seen.
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