How Hath the Mighty Fallen

Former Prime Minister Patrick Manning
Former Prime Minister Patrick Manning
By Dr. Selwyn R. Cudjoe
May 29, 2010

It was one of the saddest days in the history of the PNM. Party members surrounding the political leader’s car and saying “Go!” It had come to that. As my mother would say in her own inimitable way, “Yo’ does do and do until yo’ can do no more.” And in his own bumbling way, Manning had brought disgrace unto himself and his party by believing that he was beyond the party and the people.

As I saw Manning, I remembered another day only too well: the day when Mr Manning fired Keith Rowley from his post as a minister of government. I was being interviewed by Julian Rogers of CMG television when the news came over the air that Mr Manning had fired Keith because of an infraction he had with Calder Hart. When Rogers asked how I felt about that firing, I made it clear that although Mr Manning was a good prime minister–and in many ways he was–he made a terrible mistake when he fired Keith Rowley, a black man and soldier of the party, for a white man whom nobody knew.

Thereafter, we spent approximately 45 minutes of that interview talking about the inappropriateness of Mr Manning’s choice of Mr Hart. The interview must have been interesting because it ran two or three times on the station within a 24-hour span. That night Mr Manning called me at my home to explain why he had fired Keith. He tried to convince me that Keith had grown uninterested in his job and did not really want to remain as a minister anymore.

In that conversation I brought up the fact that Mr Manning had given Mr Hart too much power and there seemed to be no one to whom Mr Hart was accountable. Mr Manning indicated that a committee of the Legislative Council was in place to do just that and had control over any excesses of Mr Hart. He also indicted that he takes two drinks with a man–that time he was a drinking man: the first when that man is hired and the second when he had completed his job.

I would never know if Mr Manning took his second drink with Mr Hart but it became apparent to me then as it became more apparent as we went along that, in the pursuit of whatever dream he had, Mr Manning had forgotten the first cardinal principle of the PNM: the struggle of a whole cadre of Trinidadian and Tobagonian leaders over the last century to replace foreign men in positions of power with local men and to give the latter as much responsibilities as possible.

When Dr Williams left the Caribbean Commission in 1955, he made it clear that he had done so because of the inability of that important body to recognise and to reward the work of Caribbean men. At his first speech, “My Relations with the Caribbean Commission,” in which he made his entrance into local politics, Dr Williams averred: “I stand before you tonight, and, therefore, before the people of the British West Indies, the representative of a principle, a cause, and a defeat. The principle is the principle of intellectual freedom. The cause is the cause of the West Indian people. The defeat is the defeat of a policy of appointing local men to high office.”

In 1936, Captain Cipriani, a Corsican man of impeccable Trinidadian credentials, opposed the Government vociferously when a measure came before the Legislative Council to grant the Imperial College of Tropical Agriculture–the forerunner to the University of the West Indies–8,500 pounds a year for five years. Cipriani indicated that he would vote for the grant if he could be assured that there would be no discrimination against local men in filling positions of leadership at the ICTA and in the economy as a whole.

Like every other progressive member of the society, Capt Cipriani knew that the ICTA, like the oil companies, discriminated against local men. CLR James noted in The Case for West Indian Self-Government that “the oil companies would as sooner appoint a Zulu chief to some of their higher offices than a local man of colour, whatever the qualifications he had gained at the Imperial College?” Even then, it was important that local men be empowered to run their societies.

This was certainly the policy of Dr Williams and the early PNM: localisation, localisation, localisation. Somehow, when Mr Manning came to power, in his quest for speedy development, he forgot that principle. In the course of his rule he seemed to have lost all confidence in local men and their abilities. Very soon it appeared that to be qualified in T&T meant to be white and to possess a foreign accent.

In this denigration of local men (read black men and women), Mr Manning seemed to have forgotten the original pact that the PNM had made with its members. So that when he threw away the government, two and a half years into governance, the wrath of the members descended upon him. In his letter of resignation he tried to assume responsibility for the defeat of his party but, as in so many other things, it was a case of too little, too late and hence the party’s General Council asked him, in the words of a placard, to “step down now,” “PNM is not yours.”

As Keith Rowley assumes the mantle of leadership, it would be wise of him to remember always that the PNM belongs to us. Leadership consists of a dialogue between a leader and his publics. A party atrophies when the leader (or the leaders) forgets this major principle. At this moment of the party’s history, it would be better if we remove ourselves from the one-manism that characterised the tenure of Mr Manning to a broader form of collective leadership that utilises the best talents of the party.

If it is handled well, the departure of Mr Manning can herald a new day for the party and the nation. Somehow, I believe that it will.

17 thoughts on “How Hath the Mighty Fallen”

  1. “he made a terrible mistake when he fired Keith Rowley, a black man and soldier of the party, for a white man whom nobody knew”.

    Cudjoe’s racist rantings continues. He should keep that in the USA where he lives.
    His vision for the recovery of the PNM is outdated. T&T no longer needs any ethnic-based racist political organizations like the PNM or the UNC.

    1. TMan I am not sure that he was being racist by this, he stated clearly that Manning prefered someone from outside who is white. It has more to do with the issue of Independence than it has to do with race. Kindly reconsider your view in this regard.

  2. Tman, you’re out of line to call Cudjoe’s rantings racist because I dont see how you can say this if you understood the intent of the article. I am not a Cudjoe fan, but I was disappointed that Trinidad couldnt find a better educated and qualified local individual – black, white or even greeen to hire. Instead, you let an uneducated and seriously under -qualified foreigner to badly mess several things up. He was out of control,operated without fiscal guidelines and was accountable to no one, not even the PM. If there was a Gov’t body that oversaw his activities, then by reasonable deduction, they are complicit in any fraud that might have been committed and is responsible for Calder’s incompetence and poor execution of his job. The Gov’t during this period acted as if they were out of control as well precipitating a well deserved beating at the polls.The people decided it was time to put a stop to this political nightmare. I am beginning to have respect for the country I left 40 years ago, it’s a really wonderful feeling and I hope you can feel it as well!

  3. yeah yeah yeah yeah ….Babwah,and with all that said..Cudjoe is still an opportunistic racist..everybody knows that..what is your problem?see a spade for what it is..however we hope to educate him into this trinicountry..not pnm country

  4. When these men start calling Sat a racist, then I will start thinking about how I want to categorize Selwyn, until then leave that racism crap alone. It is high time now that Indians stop resorting to the call of racism in everything that they dont like. The article dealt with serious issues that a aserious blogger should explore, Manning’s one-manism, his pre-occupation with Hart ability to do all things, his hatred for Rowley and of course his dictatorial tendencies. Manning lost touch with the people soon after the 2007 election when he thought that all he had to do is appoint a person to a ministry and under his tutleage that person can become a good minister. Simplistic and stupid but that is what power does to the psyche of men who destroy all challenges to their leadership. I think that Manning is interesting case to study and even propagate because there are many interesting stories from what T&T has experienced under him.

  5. First time I have ever seen a leader with dictatorial tendencies call an election 2-3 yeara before it is due… did not try to steal it.. etc. etc.
    Yet, many continue to see this as basically a mental case study, even the ‘Afro-centrics’,
    Mr. Manning seems to be a victim of spiritual warfare.

  6. We cannot deny that there are racist in the world and it does exist in T&T. Let us hope under the leadership of the PP we would come together for what is best for our country and not our “race ego”. The approach of Madam PM should be admired by all. Somehow I am optimistic that her approach would bring healing to a divided nation. This was a clean and fair election, lets move along as a nation and build our country.

    1. There are very educated folks who work to keep racism alive. It’s a sad thing. We are supposed to have grown and developed in many ways. The world boasts of advanced technology of which we enjoy on a daily basis. We boast of being religious and ever so spiritual. Yet we are constantly fed with hate and fear.

      The formula for ruling the masses is, “Keep them poor, Keep them ignorant and Keep them in fear.” Even super-power countries apply this formula………oddly enough.

      If we truly believe in God or Love which are one and the same, we cannot be racist or think racist. That’s my thought.

  7. Dr. Selwyn Cudjoe,
    I must say that you have been Very quiet lately. A writer or Commentator,writing to the public,MUST be Fair,Get All Facts clearly. What did Manning do to TNT, with all of their arrogance.The writing was on the Wall,5/22/2010,Look at his crowd.UNCOP/COL> had 25% more.During his Sunday Final Campaign,which was paid for by Taxpayers, Look at the body Language,at him.Just as he finished,an Add with his POwerful Voice came on.The writing WAS FINAL. MANNING Going BACK To SANDO.
    Let Fairness prevail.PNM TILL I DIE, is NOW DEAD,Lets RISE TNT.
    ^Thanks GS DEENAN

  8. Erratic behaviour? Ponder on these.

    “Quem deus vult perdere, dementat prius”

    After hubris, nemesis.

  9. Others also to blame for fall of the PNM

    The fall of the PNM was due not only to Patrick Manning’s arrogance, but also to the arrogance of his sycophants, namely Enill, Imbert, Nunez-Tesheira, McDonald, Swaratsingh and Parsanlal. They were arrogant and spoke down to their employers, namely the people of T&T. Therefore, I think it is safe to say that they are as much to blame as their fallen leader.

    Shannon Moore
    San Fernando

  10. Mr. Manning was acting more like a President than a Prime Minister and he became too distant from the people and his own party. No matter how big an individual becomes he should never forget the principles which he is suppose to uphold.

  11. By Dr. Selwyn R. Cudjoe
    May 29, 2010

    (It was one of the saddest days in the history of the PNM. Party members surrounding the political leader’s car and saying “Go!” It had come to that.)
    My question is,Who were those people (supporters of Rowley) and how many were there (maybe 1 or 2 hundred) and why ( because of Rowley and Manning differences).
    Don’t base that on how PNM people feel.

  12. As the PNM moves to regroup and possibly rid itself of the negatives that played an important role in its landslide defeat in the May 24th General Election, one must ask if it’s too little too late. This is a party that boast of being the longest running and most “disciplined”. Enil (Party Chairman) had indicated, foolishly in my view, that the PNM as a party is separate from PNM the Govn’t, how can this be when during the campaign the party boasted of all that they (PNM Party in Govn’t has done. It is therefore only logical that both are the same, for the principles of the party guides Govn’t policies, the Party determines who represents us.

    Now in opposition with just 12 seats (a loss of 14), what can the party do so that the electorate can regain some semblance of confidence that it is in fact a party who seeks to develop the people of this country rather than the elite few that has plundered the resources of this country. This is the very party that defended every allegation of corruption made against the Govn’t. To now decide to act and rid it of the many arrogant and know-it-all is not going to do this so called disciplined party any good; for once they had the power they flagrantly ignored the cries of the people, the warnings of massive corruption even from within. Instead, silenced the one person who raised questions about the operations of the PM’s (Project Manager) development machinery (Udecott) and the Party did nothing about it but allowed the corruption to flourish.

    The next few weeks into months will be very interesting and this cannot be compared to any past instances (33/3) the population is far more intelligent to simply forgive and forget such high-handed disregard for the plights of the poor. The population today is in fact thinking about the future and how today’s actions affect this future. It is absolutely necessary for this all-time corrupt party to look very carefully at those it selects to represent the people, no longer will they be able to get away with its policies of corruption and hold people to ransom with things like CEPEP and the many other social services. The people will demand more. And I am not sure that the party can deliver more than it has after spending billions with no real development of the people.

  13. Interestingly,there are so much similarities between the 33/3 of the NAR and today’s 29/12 of the PP. Presently, everyone is angry with the the former Prime Minister and the PNM and now look for a scapegoat. The PNM was in office for two long and ran out of ideas, therefore, without much effort, resorted to incompetence in its work governance. Congratulations are due to the PP victory as the nation saw you as an alternative to what it had but be careful in your gloating, for when the hard decisions have to be made to restructure the nation’s economy and the people cannot get what they want, the very people who voted for you, not understand the work of government will turn against you as they did in the 33/3 victory.

    To those who would take this election as a race victory, let it be clear, if you are an Indian then India is ready for you. If you are an African, then Africa is ready for you. But, if you are a Trinbagonian of Indian and African descent whose interest is multicultural, multiracial and multireligious Trinidad and Tobago then let us work together regardless of race for the good of the nation.

    Congrats Madam Prime Minister

  14. Manning did a lot for our country and I’m very thankful for what he did. Some things could have been better like security but besides that people had a chance to get free education and jobs were available. Imagine, it took five parties to beat one man. To me that says a lot about his greatness. Right now I wish our country all the best and I hope we continue to thrive for greatness.


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