By Dr Selwyn R. Cudjoe
June 20, 2018
There they are: a brother in a blue polo shirt that reads “salopian” on his breast. Another brother holds him back as he vents his anger against Laventille West MP Fitzgerald Hinds on Old St. Joseph Road. Brother Hinds, decked out in a Panama hat and trademark deadlocks that falls below his waist, seemed absolutely engrossed in the pain and anger directed against him (Guardian, June 9).
The scene: three black people gunned down in a day’s work.
Unendingly, the killing goes on.
Sixteen-year-old Joshua James was seated on the front steps of his Laventille home when a gunman killed him in cold blood.
Carlos Abraham, 38, was walking along Old St. Joseph Road when the same gunman who killed James shot and killed Carlos.
Curtis “Nagi” Hepburn, 49, was found in a dirt tract next to Liberty Bar in the same area. An unknown assailant killed him.
These tragedies took place in the island’s most densely populated African area, which, not so long ago, “affirmed its West African ancestors and provided a sense of how it functioned as a domestic/religious sphere for the construction of an external spiritual family” (Stephen Stuempfle, Port of Spain).
A Laventille resident who witnessed the killings shouted: “Allyuh in a war and allyuh don’t know who allyuh fighting against? Allyuh in a war and don’t know who are the targets.”
Minister Lovell Francis tweeted: “Condolences to the students and staff of Success Laventille Secondary School on the loss of another young life. This must stop.” He seemed a distant observer, viewing a surrealist event, unable to utter anything but vague platitudes.
Black people are being killed daily and yet they continue to support the PNM, the black party, uncritically, almost as though these killings have nothing to do with the future of our race.
Afro-Trinidadians “were first imported in 1517. They constituted only 11 percent of the population (310) in 1783” (Trinidad and Tobago Colonial Heritage, Library of Congress). In 1803, six years after the British captured Trinidad from the Spanish, there were 2,261 whites, 5,272 free people of color (mixed race), 20,467 Africans and 1,000 Amerindians making up a total population 28,000 people. Africans constituted 73 percent of the population although some of free people of color identified as black.
East Indians arrived in 1845. When indentureship ended in 1917, they were about one third of the population. In 1946, Indians consisted of 35.1 percent of the population; Africans 46.9; Mixed 14.1 percent. By 1990, things changed: Indians consisted of about 40.3 percent of the population; Africans 39.6; Mixed 18.4. The 2011 Census figures read: Indians 37.6 percent of the population, Africans 36.3 percent, and Mixed 24.2 percent.
In July 2017 the CIA World Factbook estimated that the population of T&T consisted of East Indians (35.4 percent); Africans (34.2 percent); Mixed 15.3 percent; Mixed African/East Indian, 7.7 percent. The 2017 revision of the World Population Prospects estimated that our total population was 1,364,962 in 2016 (UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs).
I sent Stanley S. Chang, the Mildred Lane Professor of Mathematics at Wellesley College and Zhiqing (Peter) Chen, Chairman of the Mathematics Department at William Paterson University (New Jersey), our census figures from 1946 onward and asked them to project the ethnic makeup of T&T’s population in 2030.
Based on linear regression modeling, Chang estimated that by 2030, the Indian population would grow to 588,000 (or 40.5 percent); Africans to 525,000 (a decrease from 36.3 to 36.1 percent); and the mixed group 339,000 (a decrease from 24.2 to 23.4 percent). Chen projected Indians would grow to 775,977 (40.8 percent); Africans to 614,911 (32.3 percent); and the mixed group to 417,065 (21.9 percent.)
While there is a discrepancy in the round numbers, each scholar saw Indians growing; Africans and the mixed population remaining static. Africans will remain a minority while the influx of Venezuelans, Chinese, and other immigrants may change the mixed group percentage.
According to the 2011 Census, there are 435,875 citizens between the ages of 20-39 years of which 148,197 were black. We call them millennials, persons between the ages of 22 and 37. Banks define them as being in “the most important age range for economic activity. [It is] when babies are born and money is spent not just on going out but on settling down” (Financial Times, June 7.) They are pessimistic, do not believe things will change, and are incredibly skeptical of governments and big corporations (read “the one percenters”).
Blacks are killing blacks even as they decrease as a percentage of the population. They do not control any substantial part of the economy and have no reason to believe they ever will. They are the highest percentage of inmates in the REMAND YARD and prisons with little prospect of that figure decreasing. Yet my government proceeds as though we do not have an existentialist crisis on our hands.
Last Saturday MP Hinds, again with his Panama hat, conducted “a spiritual walk” in his constituency. After his walk, he declared: “God is truly great!”
I wonder if he expects God to come down from His heaven to save the people of Laventille.