The Great Betrayal – Part 4

By Dr. Selwyn R. Cudjoe
May 02, 2017


Dr. Selwyn R. CudjoeDr. Williams and Dr. Capildeo were astounded when they heard the news: “The UWI picks T&T’s Bermudez as next Chancellor.” While they did not agree on many things there was mutual consternation at this news.

Dr. Williams said: “I know Alfredo Fernandez. He was one of our MPs in 1961. But do you know who Anthony is?”

Dr. Capildeo: “You mean the Crix man?”

Dr. Williams: “What secondary school did he go to?”

Dr. Capildeo: “I don’t know.”

Dr. Williams: “Where did he get his degree?”

Dr. Capildeo: “I don’t think he went to a university.”

Dr. Williams: “You have to be crazy. You mean this man never went to a university, does not have a degree, and yet the Cabinet picked him to run de whole university?”

Dr. Capildeo couldn’t tell Dr. Williams that Anthony Bermudez was the second Trinidadian to be named to this distinguished position.

Dr. Williams: “But I was the first to be so honored. How could they do this to me?”

Dr. Capildeo could not tell Dr. Williams his PNM government wanted to make “a paradigm shit.” In his haste to console Dr. Williams he (Dr. Capildeo) had left out the “f.”

“And why this paradigm shift?”

“They say they want to move towards ‘the area of self-sufficiency.'”

Having graduated from Oxford University and written one of the most insightful studies on the relation between capitalism and slavery, Dr. Williams could understand the capitalism bit. He could not understand why we wanted to re-enslave ourselves to money.

Dr. Capildeo explained that Bermudez had chaired the Bermudez Group, Kiss Baking Company, Jamaica Business Company and Massey Holdings; therefore he had sufficient entrepreneurial knowledge to lead UWI. Anthony Garcia, Minister of Education, explained that since Bermudez “worked with students he has an intimate knowledge of how the university operates” (Express, April 20).

Part of the Chaguaramas agreement called for the United States to pour monies into UWI to make it a stronger university. Dr. Williams was elated when Keith Rowley marched on Chaguaramas and demanded of the contractors: “Hand back the leases which this corrupt Government has given to you….There is no group in T&T that knows more or done more or feel more about Chaguaramas than the people of the PNM” (Trinidad Guardian, May 10, 2015).

He could not understand this obsession with money as the cure to all problems. When he led the party Gerard Montano, Winston Mahabir, Learie Constantine, ANR Robinson and C. L. R. James were intellectual giants. James was self-taught, Robinson and Williams went to Oxford and Mahabir went to the University of Toronto.

Dr. Williams exclaimed: “Today, in Trinidad you can be anything once you have money. Money is everything.”

Dr. Capildeo looked rueful. “Look how things change. The PNM come jus like we. I took over the leadership of DLP from Badase Maraj who had no brains but plenty money. Now de PNM courting de people with plenty money but little brains.”

Dr. Williams: “I talking ’bout university boy. I ain’t talking about running a cowshed.”

“You couldn’t be talking about me. I was one of the most distinguished mathematicians of my time. NASA used my ideas when they put a man on de moon.”

“Oh Gosh Capildeo. I ent talking about you. Both of we went to QRC and den studied in England. We were proud of our intellectual distinction, but now things gone to de dogs.’

Dr. Capildeo had to laugh. He realized Dr. Williams wasn’t up to date with the happenings in his country.

He reminded him: “Don’t you know everything goes better with Crix.”

In his rage, Dr. Williams remarked: What paradigm shit you talking about. This time Dr. Williams deliberately left out the “f.”

He was getting fed up with people who were using words and phrases that they did not understand; persons deliberately misconstruing history; and people who, in their quest to be modern had forgotten that men and women should not live by bread alone.

Dr. Williams remembered James’s words when he returned to Trinidad in 1963 to bury his father: “The relations of countries and the relations of classes had to change, before I discovered that it is not the quality of goods and utility that matter, but movement; not where you are and what you have, but where you have come from, where you are going and the rate at which you are getting there” (Beyond a Boundary).

Dr. Capildeo was not moved particularly by James’s wisdom. He calmly threw back some James at Williams.

“I know you know James’s works better than I, but do you remember when he remarked, ‘It is not too much to say that among colored [and black] people [in Trinidad] the surest sign of a man’s having arrived is the fact that he keeps company with people fairer in complexion than himself'” (The Life of Captain Cipriani.)

Dr. Williams was in a phlegmatic mood. He asked himself if the color paradigm to which James referred had changed much over the years or was it still a predominant factor in the party (and government) which he strove so hard to build?

4 thoughts on “The Great Betrayal – Part 4”

  1. And still we have gone no where as a nation; we are neither independent nor a republice. That was games they played on us; not every creed finds an equal place bu still square pegs forced into round holes and most of us outside and inside Trinidad are still suffering. Our PNM government continues to copy and paste what pertains in North America. Our country cannot afford to have a land and building tax or property tax system like in North America as our people still earn less than 50% of their incomes taking the foreign exchange into account.

  2. Greetings, to you Dr C, your discourse in chapter 4 of your series is very philosophical, one the people of T@T, particularly the Africans will find hard to decipher. the esteemed nation builders mentioned, have not been generated by the new crop of grafters, we call leaders. blind ambition is the norm , we see it nestled in every aspect of crab in the barrel infested society.In the not too distant future, everything is in place for Trinidad to become a fail state, the pattern followed over the last 40yrs is one that have truly divided the former slave colony of Trinidad,a new mindset is needed in this western dictate of globalization. The Trinidadian mind is already clouded to the facts.Remember, a state without a spiritual purpose uniting all people, is of no value,it is like a beautiful shell devoid of life.Hotep.

  3. The economic problems as well as the underdevelopment which T&T is experiencing today is a direct result of the flawed principle embedded in the minds of its population that their leaders must be university educated. There are numerous entrepreneurs in T&T who have acquired great wealth without the benefit of college or university education. These folks are highly intelligent people with the skill set necessary to run successful businesses and make profitable and smart investments. Having a PhD in history, mathematics or geology does not mean that you are qualified to lead a government or country. T&T has had a string of failed, educated leaders, each incapable of moving the country forward beyond the dependence on oil and gas. Today we are reaping the result of the application of intellectualism and education by one leader after another. Lacking the innovation, knowledge, and trader’s DNA they have all failed to diversify the economy and advance the country to First World status. We now live in a failing nation saddled with crime, poor infrastructure, currency problems, failing schools, rampant corruption, a corrupt criminal justice system and a clueless “educated” government and opposition.
    The appointment of Anthony Bermudez as chancellor of UWI is no cause for alarm, ridicule or cynicism. He is a successful, Caribbean man who has demonstrated that he has the skills to be the executive or ceremonial head of a university. His business acumen is exactly what is needed at this particular time in our history Money and education should not be considered two separate entities. Contrary to the belief of many, men with money acquired their ritches because they have brains.

    1. Well said Than!. My brother often reminds me that the world’s problems were not caused by the uneducated. It is almost always the ‘educated’ who are responsible for our backwardness, poverty and sometimes under-development. Part of our problems stem from our desire in the fifties and sixties to always adhere to the ‘doctor politics’ syndrome, where we feel less accepted if our leader is not anointed with a Phd. Our most accomplished leaders generally are those whose nature it is to advance the cause of the working man. Today we are constrained by the party syndrome, where alignment with party is the most important criteria in how we advance ourselves. Some of our best leaders of the past were never identified by party labels but by the dedication they attached to the causes they fought for.

      If we are to move forward from our present quagmire, we must once again appreciate people for the content of their character and not the label identifying their participation.

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