Mr. Manning labels the dashiki as dated attire when he asks, “When last you see a dashiki worn in Trinidad and Tobago?” As a scholar of history, I must admit I was exceedingly proud when our nation declared an Emancipation Day holiday, and proceeded to celebrate my brothers’ freedom. A major dimension of this day – among others – was the donning of African apparel, inclusive of the dashiki. Every year, we see this phenomenon, and even Mr. Manning is frequently featured wearing such, thus adding to the highly confusing rhetorical question on his part. In their obvious decision to turn a blind eye to Mr. Manning’s edict, rather than transcend race and speak aloud to manifest their courage in conviction, will Africans now shelve their dashikis?
Beyond Mr. Manning, I need to register my utmost disappointment in these individuals and conscious-building NGOs (non-governmental organisations) for remaining largely silent on this issue. Where are the pro-African lobbyists in all of this? Why is Gayelle voiceless now when they want me to be pan-African and support their African culture? Why are NGOs, whose members dress in African print all year round, not speaking out on Mr. Manning’s diatribe?
Recently, UWI (University of the West Indies) staged the reflective-thinking “March to Caroni” where the public was goaded into thinking of 1970 and the Black Power Movement in a manner that had the entire cast declaring “Trini have a funny, funny way of forgetting their history”. I dare say that turned out to be a farce, in light of their collective silence on this issue. It would do well, it seems, to forget that year and related events since you – directly affected because of your racial background – choose to forget your identity today! I am further disappointed that these university students have failed to embark on forcing Mr. Manning to retract his statement. It is little wonder that our university students are seen as no more than passive recipients of this history, with no clue as to how to prepare for their future.
In light of the Afro-Trinis’ acceptance of Mr. Manning’s declaration, please understand that you are forcing the Indo-Trinidadian in me to regard your history with little regard. And that, my dear brothers, is the greater tragedy!