Dark Memories of a Lynching

By Dr Selwyn R. Cudjoe
October 23, 2018

Dr. Selwyn R. CudjoeAn acknowledgement: I am Dr. Keith Rowley’s friend. I consider him a person of impeccable character and integrity, someone who will not willingly tell a lie to save his or any other person’s crime or misdemeanor. Although I have not always agreed with his policies, he is an eminently trustworthy person and possesses the courage to withstand the storms of adverse publicity that seeks to ground his name into the dust.

My friendship with Rowley goes back to twenty-three years ago when he ran for the leadership of the PNM against Patrick Manning. I supported him then as now because of his conviction of purpose, his unflinching ability to speak truth to power, and his principled position that asserted because Manning had lost the General Election he had an obligation to step down as party leader.

I was one of the few people that worked with Rowley to formulate his political position. I remember our using William Julius Wilson’s When Work Disappears (1996), a treatise on the importance of work, to formulate Rowley’s position paper (call it a manifesto). It emphasized the centrality of work—not only as a means of making money but as a disciplined way to organize one’s life.

Then as now Dr. Rowley saw work as a process of self-fashioning and a means of developing self-responsibility through which our people could overcome the challenges that continue to face us.

The Thursday before the party’s election Rowley’s internal polling showed him ahead of Manning by a slight margin. Lo and behold, Rowley was defeated on Election Day because forces loyal to Manning formed new party groups—the delegate system was in effect then—that supported Manning’s candidacy. I believe that the disappointment Rowley felt then led to his introduction of the “one man, one vote” that prevails in the PNM party elections today.

I worked with and supported Rowley since then although I have criticized his policies and will continue to do so. I bring some matters to his personal attention while I voice other criticism publicly. I believe in C. L. R. James’s dictum that some criticism should be voiced publicly since they are matters that concern the party and thus must be placed in the public domain for discussion. I feel this responsibility towards him as a conscientious friend and loyal party member.

I do not believe the charges that Dr. Roodal Moonilal has made against Rowley. Rowley is an honest man who respects his people and his office. Sometimes he displays more sympathy towards other groups at the expense of those who remain the bastion of his party’s success. He should be careful about this. PNM would be dead in the water if black people did not support the party in massive numbers.

Rowley may be arrogant, contemptuous, and sharped-tongued, but he always displays a forthrightness that leads him to act in a decisive manner as he did in the Petrotrin matter. He seldom equivocates on matters of national importance. There is no malevolence in his actions vis-à-vis OWTU nor did he act in a “vindictive manner” against union workers as Ancil Roget, another important leader in the community, has claimed.

Rowley and his government should be more transparent in their dealings with the public on issues such as the Sandals Hotel and the building of the port in La Brea. A democracy cannot function efficiently if its leaders withhold information from its public. The government should act in a more consultative manner when it deals with issues that affect our national development.

Rowley, however, is a human being who knows and feels the pain of being a black man in a postcolonial society. Every time I listen to the raspy timbre of his voice, I hear the pains of a whole historical experience of oppression and suffering. Then, I am reminded of the blues, the spirituals, and the calypso through which black people expressed their sufferings so plaintively for such a long time.

Rowley detractors have called him a child of rape and urged their children to stay away from him. Now he is accused of being a fraud, subjected to insulting innuendoes, open insults, and sotto voce name calling. Each allegation is designed to force him into a darkened dungeon where his enemies wish to encase him. In their rantings, they depict him as a child of darkness.

James Baldwin, the African American novelist, has said that the blues “is a structure of feeling. It has loss and sorrow, suffering and complaint, the cry of trouble and tribulation. But it also carries the promise of freedom and the celebratory shout of ‘jubilee’ embedded in its cadences. It often takes us to a dark place, but it never leaves us there” (Stuart Hall, Familiar Stranger.)

Moonilal’s intention is clear. He says: “This matter will follow Rowley to his political grave” (Express, October 16). But Rowley will be victorious. Many of us believe he is innocent in this matter. My mother used to say there is always darkness before the dawn. Even those who despise him will wake up to find him black but comely, a shining manifestation of the best amongst us.

As I witness Rowley’s persecution I only conjure up dark memories of a lynching.

11 Responses to “Dark Memories of a Lynching”


  • Oh Professor.. I could have only take so much.. maybe I will finish reading this later.. But, there was a type of male slave during slavery, his duty was to ‘breed’ female slaves.. Massa would put him to impregnate many daughters and ‘mothers’ on the Slave Plantation.. Today his ‘title’ lives on….African Americans use it in disgust.. Dr Rowley is a disappointment and a disgust..
    You are willing to place your head on a block for his ‘impeccable’ integrity.. A man that went to parliament with documents claiming that the present CoP was a conspirator.. anyway.. please Professor..

  • “Rowley and his government should be more transparent in their dealings with the public on issues such as the Sandals Hotel and the building of the port in La Brea“

    Rowley boasted on an election platform that “they does keep each other secrets”. Post colonial era an elitist class emerged in many former colonial nations. The elitist class control the economy and functions at a level of no accountability to anyone. Like the Brits they full their pocket.

    In Angola a nation ravaged by war with many amputees, the elitist class stole $32 billion in less than 5 years. No one dares ask where the money gone! They are accountable to no one. Trinidad under this current Rowley lead administration functions at a level of superior knowledge. At the recent budget debate the pompous and arrogant minister of finance was ask by Surujrattan Rambachan about $10 million that was set aside apart from regular money for legal purposes. He being an elitist basically shrugged his shoulders and told the senior MP, “we hire the best”.

    Then there is the AV oil fiasco that has virtually been swept under the carpet by a media that has been heavily sedated by the elitist in the PNM. In other nation there would have been protest, marches and demand for the thief ot thieves to be arrested and charged. But that is not forthcoming today. Billions will be stolen via overprice project like the Shaw Park project that escalated to over $1 billion.

    The PNM like the former Burnham PNC operates under “stealt”. They are quietly fulling the pockets of their supporters. Burnham used to turn off the lights and send in the military to feed his supporters. This flooding I am sure cheques are being cut and sent to the children of the balisier. They are the chosen ones! All others could say what they want but equity and fairness have dried up in tnt. No wonder even God is angry!

  • Politics, as one eminent political thinker said, divides us into friends and enemies. Dialogue and discussion are essential for understanding, particularly when we are dealing with the dark world of politics. In the last elections of 2015, 378,447 people voted for the PMN; 290,066 people voted for the UNC. From what you hear in the media, you wouldn’t think so. You would think nobody or very few people support the PNM. Their voices are missing from the national media. They are the invisible people, the voiceless people, the media pretends they don’t exist. The media would want you to believe that everybody is a UNC supporter, they are visible everywhere, their voices are everywhere on the media. So let’s put that into perspective to give proper context of our political situation. 70% of our population is Christian, again you wouldn’t think so. You would think that they are a small, insignificant minority, frightened and ashamed to identify themselves as Christians. But that is our reality according to the media. 60% of our population is black or mixed (and most mixed people are partly or mostly black). We are not the southern USA where black people are a small minority and are targeted by well-armed white southerners. The media has created a reality of black insignificance, of black minority status, of black fear (except when they are attacking other blacks). Black people in T&T are not afraid of anybody, nobody can lynch black people here, they may try but they will get a sad awakening. The reality created by the media is a false reality. Nobody is afraid of the accusations of Moonilal, he has proven to be a clown, a conman, a mocking pretender. He is a fake news propagandist, he himself is fake news.
    Which brings us to another point. Selwyn Cudjoe mentions the importance of work in Dr. Rowley’s vision for politics in T&T. I think this is an important observation, but I see, in addition to work, another dimension to Dr. Rowley’s vision. And to illustrate what I mean I would like to use biblical imagery. The Israelites were slaves for hundreds of years, then they were freed. After they were freed they wandered for 40 years in the desert, or the wilderness, and when we ask why did they have to spend that 40 years in the wilderness, we are brought to understand that it was to strengthen them as a people. Hundreds of years of slavery had weakened their minds, weakened their faith. The 40 years were a time to be tested and tried, to be strengthened, and to become whole again. I think this is what we are going through here in T&T, after Dr. Williams brought us to independence. This is our post-colonial struggle – to become strengthened in our minds, to become whole again. I think this is another dimension of Dr. Rowley’s vision. Let us not be weak and fearful, let us be strong, responsible and determined, ready to face any of life’s challenges.

  • The cudos to the PM appears to be in good taste from his followers since he is celebrating his 69th.birthday today

    http://www.guardian.co.tt/article-6.2.364014.cf7cf8455d

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/4026749.stm

    • I does try to understand these followers.. Now they trying hard to play the race card to gather the flock.. Lynching?! Is ‘we’ who are being lynched.. BLACKBENCHERS, a term invented under this Rowley Adm.. The PNM has become the party of The Doltish Negro ‘followers’ and the ruling 1%..
      Happy Birthday Mr. PM..

      https://youtu.be/HLM5cnM9Rsg

      • Creating victims along the way, Rowley Lynched 5000 petrotrin workers in one week. Then 4000 CEPEP workers were lynched earlier this year as they watch their jobs disappear. Now 2000 WASA, T&TEC & TSTT employees are set to be lynched. Making a grand total of 15,000 lynching by Rowley! Yep the red brigade strikes! And the streets are empty. All in one year with many more not included.

  • Professor, weh a nice guy like you does pick up these type of friends from, Bro?
    One would think that The PM would reserve comment on this issue as an investigation is on-going.. and we will not like that investigation to be prejudiced by The PM’s comments..
    But, I guess that’s maybe why Gary Griffith was brought in, that NS advisor to Kamla during the infamous SoE.. where 9000 African males were detained..

    And, since the PM is commenting on misguided youths (read.. young Black Males).. WHAT ABOUT HIS SONS?
    How does one pursue higher education, political ambitions having 2 young boys to support (and from different women too, eh)? The PM needs to tell us his magic of accomplishing such a goal… being a poor man from Tobago?
    Yuh see, many of us had to abandon these goals once ‘her belly started to swell’.. Stuppes

    *Prime Min­is­ter Dr Kei­th Row­ley is de­fend­ing his ear­ly morn­ing cor­rob­o­ra­tion of the al­leged po­lice killing of five peo­ple in Trou Macaque, Laven­tille, on Thurs­day night.*

    http://www.guardian.co.tt/news/pm-stands-by-statement-on-misguided-youths-6.2.701111.e2af3b3e69

  • Rowley may be arrogant, contemptuous, and sharped-tongued, but he always displays a forthrightness that leads him to act in a decisive manner as he did in the Pertrotrin matter. He seldom equivocates on matters of national importance. There is no malevolence in his actions vis-à-vis OWTU nor did he act in a “vindictive manner” against union workers as Ancil Roget, another important leader in the community, has claimed.

    The one and only time I have ever communicated my taught about comment made by you was years ago when you tried unsuccessfully to mislead the country about the success of students from a selected area whose success in exams which you found to be strange and you questioned the results providing the opportunity to share your opinion as to the impossibility for such to occur using some mathematical formula how wrong you were then and now again.
    I admit that your assessment of the issues surround the PM is again just what appears to be a bias opinion because of your relationship with one whom you have indicated that you communicate. I admit I was amused by the opening comment quoted above by you in the article and was forced to laugh while at the same time question are you real?

    As a lecturer, I am truly concerned when I reflect on those comments offered by you about the PM and must question your closing view

    As I witness Rowley’s persecution I only conjure up dark memories of a lynching.

    Lets examine some of the basic issues starting with those of two sons that appeared on the scene which to date the father has failed to acknowledge one who was made known to the public by one of his loyal supporters Robinson Regis being one in the know can you shed some light as I am certain you have all the correct answers as to their birth records in addition, only when one knows the confirmed birthdates and details of the mother will there be any confirmation whether the detractors you refer are right or wrong I hope you can at least agree to this formula as a professor and assist in solving this as you put it place him in a darkened dungeon where his enemies wish to encase him is this not his own doing??

    The issues you referred about Rowley and his government should show more transparency with the public on issues such as the Sandals Hotel and the building of the port in La Brea in which you concluded that a democracy cannot function efficiently if its leaders withhold information from its public when it deals with issues that affect our national development that concern by you shines the light very bright and illuminates the reasons why as you have outlined and is included in fact that his behavior that being arrogant, contemptuous, and sharped-tongued,as he tries to be today’s colonial MASTER your assessment questions, with such negative attributes does he always displays forthrightness that leads him to act in a decisive manner ???? from my viewpoint the answer is absolutely NO, and by the way the decision was taken by him re Petrotrin was never shared only that it was best mirroring the same failure which you alluded in the opening of this reply which you have presented.NO FACTS EVERY DECISION SHROUDED IN SECRECY

    The charges by Moonilal I ask, do you not think for the man you know for over 23 years and now the PM that far too much time has elapsed to show that Moonilal is wrong from your view he is an honest man who respects his people and his office REALLY!so why do we still do not have the report on Smith and what about the issue of the senator who was charged for driving under the influence or what about Robinson Regis financial transactions and the list can be expanded if you so desire does this indicate a RESPECT FOR THE OFFICE.

    What fact can you share to inform that you are aware of the pain Rowley feels of being BLACK for real then why did he accept the responsibility that he has. Unless you can share THIS pain again this is just another misdirected view to create some disquiet and I am truly disappointed this human being who knows and feels the pain of being a black in a postcolonial society for which you refer is nothing short of an excuse for failed leadership imagine in 2018 we are still speaking about experience of oppression and suffering is he the PM, if he is then it’s his responsibility to paint the future picture not rehash the past for which we are all well aware.
    Stop making excuses for his incompetence and face the reality that not every one that is POPULAR in a political movement and gets the TOP job either by being appointed by the delegate system or by the one man one vote has the ABILITY TO DO THE JOB and in PM Rowley’s case you know that while he is the leader of the PNM he does not have the leadership to move the COUNTRY not the PNM forward

    I expect that you will disagree with these views and that will be because of your own failure from my viewpoint you continue living in the past postcolonial society wake up its 2018 and the future is what we make of it not what we complain about or blame for our own shortcomings because we do not have the skills to accomplish the desired results

  • I do not always agree with Dr. Cudjoe but some of his conclusions are objective and reflect truth.

    “… not every one that is POPULAR in a political movement and gets the TOP job either by being appointed by the delegate system or by the one man one vote has the ABILITY TO DO THE JOB …”

    “….the future is what we make of it not what we complain about or blame for our own shortcomings because we do not have the skills to accomplish the desired results ………”

    Both statements above, made by Robert Amar are inescapable truisms and I command him for the observations. But I take umbrage with the intent of his directed observations – Dr Rowley.

    As Trinidadians, we are a spoiled people. We always feel we should get what we wants when we desire it. ‘Sacrifice’ is not a word that enter into our desire for ‘betterment’ but when someone else exercise it, we want to share in the rewards.

    Leadership is not for the faint hearted.
    The attributes of good leadership is being an effective communicator; sharing of passion, commitment and enthusiasm; being innovative; collaborative and positive. It also means doing what is right even if inconvenient. It is not the sharing of goodies to our friends and comrades when the economy is good and damn the inheritor of spent political fortunes, who have to be innovative to reconcile the scattered reserves to make ends meet.

    We are at the point of gathering the spillage of our oil fortunes, where the inheritors (UNC), over spent, over burrowed, over staffed, over compensated, over indulged, over built, over stated, over took and then over looked the demise of our economy.

    Now that the present government has inherited a fractured economy, the very same people are now saying that the leader, Dr. Rowley is “incompetent”. The word means, not having or showing the necessary skills to do something successfully. If we are to judge where we came from in 2015 to where we are in the recovery year of 2018, the label of being incompetent is both a misnomer and misdirected political ploy to placate Dr. Rowley’s leadership. His ability to recover from the debilitating state of the economy that the UNC left us is unreconcilable in the eyes of the opposition.

    Most honest people view leadership as taking us from a bad or challenging situation to one that offer promise or better future or condition. Most honest people will agree that Kamla, the smiling prime minister, who offered goodies to one and all, went on international escapades taking with her, friends, family spending freely, the spoils from our petro dollars and bankrupting our economy, now sits in opposition and calls the person who is now tasked with the recovery “incompetent”. People like Robert Amar were definitely “better off” with the free spending, because he too was an inheritor of fortunes. Now, that we all have to “sacrifice”, he stands in his Ifill tower and calls the Prime Minister “incompetent”. What sacrifices has he made? What has he done for the less fortunates? Where are all the unaccountable billions that was spent during the 2010 – 2015 era?. To me, that is more relative, than trying to tie the hands of the man tasked with bringing the country together. People like that have always benefitted from government largesse. So, to sit and lambast a man for trying, is not only foolish but unpatriotic as well. We need to applaud the government for reducing the budget, curtailing over spending, adding more avenues to increase revenue while at the same time taking care of the less fortunate.

    Meanwhile the real “incompetents” will continue to relish the thoughts (in opposition) that somehow, the rest of us will agree with them so they can go back and reap the benefits of the recovery. Let the REAL INCOMPETENTS STAND.

    • Do you like being conned? I was going to retreat from this discussion.. but after hearing Gary Griffith’s comments, I had to go into Youtube’s archives on Dr Rowley’s EmailGate presentation in Parliament..

      Check his passion… what really happened? I can never forget this ‘Hippie’ telling me that ‘they’ perfected the cloning and growing of humans..

      He did say that Gary Griffith was ‘allegedly’ involved in a Conspiracy to harm/murder a reporter.. and bugged the DPP’s office..

      https://youtu.be/tvl32sd_D4g

  • We are at the point of gathering the spillage of our oil fortunes, where the inheritors (UNC), over spent, over burrowed, over staffed, over compensated, over indulged, over built, over stated, over took and then over looked the demise of our economy.(KIAN)

    Total political nonsense by our friend Kian. Even the present government did not blame the UNC for the closure of Petrotrin. A classic example of uninformed commentary motivated by political bias, one of the major problems in T&T.

    The major financial challenge Petrotrin faces is a debt burden far more devastating than Caroni. In 2002, Petrotrin’s debt was just over TT$3 ¼ billion. By 2010, when the Manning PNM administration and the Malcolm Jones-led Board left office, Petrotrin’s debt had exploded almost four-fold to around TT$12 ½ billion. At the end of September 2016, Petrotrin’s total debt (unaudited) was unchanged from its 2010 level. Petrotrin’s debt is the largest of any state enterprise in the wider public sector outside of the central government.
    The main reason behind the sharp increase in Petrotrin’s debt burden was the issue of two euro bonds on the international capital markets, one for US$750 million in 2007 and the other for US$850 million in 2009. By issuing these bonds, Petrotrin incurred an additional TT$10 ½ billion in debt within the short period of three years. The bonds helped finance three failed mega-investments made during the tenure of the Malcolm Jones-led Board. More than TT$9 ¼ billion were spent on a Gasoline Optimization Programme (GOP), TT$4 billion on an ultra-low sulphur diesel (ULSD) plant, and over TT$3 ¼ billion and counting on a World Gas-to-Liquids (GTL) Project. These three projects were so heavily over budget and so far behind schedule, Petrotrin ended up wasting over TT$15 billion, a scale of mismanagement and loss to taxpayers rivalled only by the failure of CLICO, the country’s largest insurance company.
    Not surprisingly, repayment of the two euro bonds has become a financial albatross around Petrotrin’s neck. It is paying interest at about US$45 million per year to international bondholders on the US$750 million bond which will mature in 2022. The company is also meeting interest payments of nearly US$83 million on its US$850 million bond which will mature in 2019. And in August 2019, Petrotrin must meet the bullet payment of US$850 million when the bond matures. This means Petrotrin must find over US$1 ¼ billion over the next two and a half years to meet its external debt service payments. This will be a very difficult feat given the company’s worsening financial situation.

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