Ravages of Ethno-Nationalism

By Stephen Kangal
February 21, 2011

Stephen KangalAfter 49 years of an ethno-nationalism-based and driven Independence and four distinct nationalist-leaning regimes what is the prevailing status quo on cross- cultural relations/diversity management that now impels us in T&T to want to chart a new culturally-sensitive and responsive way forward (multiculturalism) instead of continuing along the unjust and hitherto ethno-nationalism-paved track?

This is where we are today in Mother Trinidad and Tobago:

— a racially- polarised T&T where geography correlates with ethnicity and a centre-periphery ( urban renewal better than rural revitalization) based neo-colonialist relationship;

— the only multicultural society in the world in which a largest minority feels discriminated against by the public sector and the state in several fields of national endeavours;

— we have not considered and agreed in a dispassionate organised forum on the elements that constitute the T&T identity. This composite identity must recognise and reflect the diversity of our cultures/ethnicity/ festivals to strengthen a sense of belonging, identity, pride and patriotism (Unity in Diversity) and remove the cobwebs of alienation and marginalisation;

— we have not been able to distinguish between and understand the political and legal aspects of the T&T personality (Indian and African) on the one hand and our cultural and religious heritage as Indians and Africans ( endogenous variable or cultural persistence) as demonstrated in Williams 1962 Address;

— we do not have a National Cultural Policy nor A National (Multicultural) Commission on Culture (the culinary, plastic, literary, creative and performing arts);

— We are reaping the fruits/whirlwind of a policy of ethno-nationalism indiscriminately imported post-independence from the another Caribbean country (Jamaica) and is doing its own damage in developing pools of alienation/marginalisation in T&T or what His Excellency The President calls “fissures”.

— a Vision 2020 futuristic developmental agenda that ignores and pays lip service to the question of diversity and its contribution to organisational effectiveness, organisational behaviour and development, social cohesiveness and achieving competitiveness/ efficiency both internally and on the expanding globalised market place;

— we perpetuate an Anglo-American emphasis (the melting pot thesis) in our social landscape at the level of religion, culture, education (the national Curriculum), politics and nutrition and diet and even in public housing;

— we have established three cosmetic race relations Committees and a fourth if you add the Gordon Committee, with neither Secretariat, nor supporting administrative, research and field staff, nor terms of reference nor national policy underpinnings (White Paper on Managing Diversity). Not one black cent is made available to fund or achieve anything of substance or value (critical policy-related research on race and diversity issues, visits to other multicultural societies etc) that can be factored into the multicultural policy formulation/determination process. These Committees have excited public expectations that they will not and cannot fulfill and they are clearly indicative of the cosmetic, superficial value that we place on the development of mutual respect and cross-cultural understanding;

— The Gordon Committee completely ignored the relevance of these three Committees and excluded them from its consultations. The Vision 2020 Culture and Ethnicity Sub-Committee may constitute another layer of bloated bureaucracy and the fourth in the stratified bureaucracy. This sub-Committee of the Vision 2020 also ignored the three other Committees during its public consultations held with stakeholders on 16 October at the Crowne Plaza and did not even address ethnic relations nor cultural co-existence;

— Charges/judgments on subjective decision making in the State sector, inequality, marginalisation, rural decay, urban tyranny and monopoly, cultural discrimination tarnish the social landscape. There are over 100 public sector litigation awaiting determination in the High Court and private groups would appear to be free to discriminate in violation of UN/OAS Conventions on Human Rights and Racial Discrimination to which T&T is a party;

— No institutional arrangement and/or legislative action (Bill of Human Rights and Freedoms) has been undertaken or established to promote equality, cultural heterogeneity, fairness for all, meritocracy in the public sector work place except some provisions of the Constitution that are dependent on invoking expensive and prohibitive constitutional litigation procedures. Senator Wade Mark said: “If you do not have money to take this Government to Court-yuh coo coo cook”). This is supported by CJ Mr. Justice Sharma in his 2004 Law Term Opening Address.

— A de-monopolised mushrooming print and electronic media (19 radio, 3 TV and 13 more to come for 1.3 million people) and telecommunications infrastructure that facilitate the widespread articulation of real and perceived acts of discrimination and lack of transparency and accountability in public affairs (radio talk shows). Discussions of cross-cultural relations/justifiable claims articulated by the marginalised and rural fringe raise racial alarm bells and the cultural status quo is considered sacrosanct and immutable;

— Several recent litigation determined in the High Courts, including the Gordon Committee have clearly established the widespread practice of flawed administrative decision-making based on ethnicity intended to thwart upward mobility and promotion in the Public and Foreign Service of T&T;

— Former Senator Wade Mark said in the Senate: “… So merely because of where you live this society discriminates against you… when we talk of discrimination it does not necessarily mean…racial discrimination…We are talking about discrimination based on region…”(Geographic Discrimination)

16 thoughts on “Ravages of Ethno-Nationalism”

  1. Do we need something like this to move forward?

    “”National Institute for Civil Discourse to open at University of Arizona. We can follow this example as TRinidad and Tobago, is surely a second country that will need an Institute like this:

    Former presidents Bill Clinton and George H.W. Bush will serve as honorary chairmen of a new center at the University of Arizona that will focus on civility in political debate, university officials will announce Monday.

    The National Institute for Civil Discourse – a nonpartisan center for debate, research, education and policy about civility in public discourse – will open Monday in Tucson. It was created in the aftermath of the Jan. 8 shootings in the city where six people were killed and 13 injured, including Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.).

  2. Right Stephen, I hear what you say, so let`s start with the Reshmi affair, how many Indians are getting the big contracts as opposed to other races etc…

    And for good measure let`s have the Integrity Commission investigate the Nizam Mohammed affair..

    Lets see how bipartisan and fair you really are..lol..

    I wait with bated breath to see what big position you will be appointed to soon, a la Sasha and Andy Johnson…

    One Love,


    1. It seems to me that my karma is stronger than my political dharma for even though having served in the diplomatic service for 22 years, was politically active since 2001 and wrote profusely on political matters including on the property tax, the rapid rail, T&T/Barbados Boundary, foreign policy etc and I am living in T&T since 2000 continuously I am missing qualifications in vet science.
      I refuse to be clustered with Sacha and Andy and cannot arrange big parties on my pension.

      1. … but had you kept implicit faith with your explicit values you might have contributed more, and especially now in a time when being a patriot means choosing singularly not to be a mere political and/or racial partisan, but instead striving to be incisive and broadguaged in expression and outlook.

        In this vein I can think from reflection and study of one other political leader-statesman who thereby graced this country with his presence, scholarship and vision.

        Everybody has potential, obviously; everybody with the right environment can do better, much better and improve–but not everyone has been graced with prudence enough, and commonsense par excellence to become another Dr. Eric Eustace Williams.

    2. “Right Stephen, I hear what you say, so let`s start with the Reshmi affair, how many Indians are getting the big contracts as opposed to other races etc…”

      Eric said Indians are recalcintrant, PNM MP for Laventille echoed the same words. So there are really no big contracts going to Indians if the fadder of nation and his follower said the same thing. In fact Indians are now playing catch up after all the PNM govern T&T for over 40 years. The PNM hired their own people and fired a lot of Indians in the civil service which explains why it is 85% African in its’ composition. That HAVE to change and it have to change immediately. The national pie should be divided equally.

  3. Here we have Indo-nationalism masquerading as all-embracing “multi-culturalism”, while wrongly labeling the party of Eric Williams as Afro-nationalist.

    The “Mother Trinidad and Tobago” policy of the PNM is what gave to the “recalcitrant minority” the space necessary to prosper in Trinidad and Tobago. That the Afro-Creole has not prospered nearly as well is testimony to the generosity of the Afro-Creole and to the lie that the Indo segment of the population has been discriminated against as a matter of policy.

    It is rather the opposite, for the Indo society has indeed been recalcitrant as Eric Williams perceived so many decades ago, and chose rather to alienate itself from the Afro-Creole civilization into which it was a late arrival. Worse, the Indo segment of the society, by force of cultural imperative (to help each other), has engaged in bold-faced discrimination whenever they found themselves in a position to do so, especially against the Afro segment.

    Talk of multi-culturalism coming from the Indo segment is the policy mask needed to hide an ugly reality underneath.

    They accuse the Afro precisely of that of which they are the ones who are guilty.

    Moreover, under the mask, the true program is one of political domination. But Indo domination of a society that is still culturally Afro-Creole, must necessarily be illegitimate, certainly destabilizing. Just as was the case in Fiji, there will be resistance to Indo takeover, not because of any racism (for Afro-creole civilization is welcoming to a fault), but because there is something inherently illegitimate about such an outcome. It was wrong to expect the Fijians to hand over their country to Indian interlopers, whatever the dictates of “democracy”. And it is equally wrong for an Afro-Creole society to sacrifice itself in the way Indo domination would require.

    That really is what this talk about “multi-culturalism” and its associated baggage of lies is intended to accomplish.

  4. T-Man, what these links show, like those two decades ago of Roots, is that those today referred to as “niggers and coolies” have almost identical narratives, but of which the other is ignorant.

    In fact, it is more than possible that neither group even knows the fullness of their own history.

    Ironically, while each group now has an undisguised hostility to the other, both were so named by the same English who profitted first from the African slave trade especially in sugar, and then forced to officially end slavery with the 1834 Emancipation Proclamation, then four short years later in 1838 secretly re-continued slavery disguised as indenture, using the blackest of “coolies” many of them wearing the same nappy hair as their African kin.

    Today, while African Trinis do not blame Indians for enslavement, Indians blame Africans–not the English–for “discrimination”, and wherever these two now reside at home or abroad, the latter have become the point-guard giving comfort to anti-Black white racists against Africans, as epitomized by Bobby Jindal against Barack Obama.

    As Governor of the State of Louisiana, Jindal could not have been elected without the support of African-Americans. Now, as payback, he is closing one of the oldest “Black Universities” and linking it to a white Southern one. This university was one established after the Civil War in the US.

    Is the PP government elected under similar circumstances also indulging in similar payback?

    Are the recent high-decibel accusations of anti-Indian racism recently raised publicly by Jack Warner and by the Prime Minister herself, cavalier demonstrations of Indian triumphalism trumping African defensiveness?

    A perennial optimist, I think that today, someone is needed in T&T to bell this cat of African-Indian hostilities; that is, for the nation first to come to an appreciation of being truthful and factual in this discourse; and thus, to finally come to grips with its fundamental narratives, these two narratives written in oppression and redeemed in struggle; enlightening everyone, with understanding, mutual respect, and thereby ensuring the determination to live in peace and mutual prosperity in each other’s presence.

    If this desire and possibility are not too much for which to hope, they cannot be too much for which to struggle and to live.

  5. To Tman –

    When I went to school the broad outlines of Indian indentureship were well covered. The youtube vids are interesting, but it is incorrect to equate indentureship with chattel slavery. Indentureds served a limited time, and were paid for their labor. Indentureds kept their history, their heritage, their language, their culture, their names. Therefore, it is another lie now to suggest that Indian indentureds have an equal claim to victimhood as the victims of the trans-Atlantic slave trade. The indentureds were paid! The Afro-Creole descendants of the trans-Atlantic slave trade have never been paid for the many centuries of enslavement they endured prior to the Johnny-come-lately Indians. The indentureds were paid off with land that should arguably have gone as reparations payments to the Afro-Creole. Moreover it is also arguably the case that the key reason why they now have a leg up over the Afro-Creole precisely is because they were paid in land.

    I do not minimize the suffering of the indentureds, but it is quite simply a lie to revise history by suggesting that indentureship was just a continuation of the chattel slavery endured by the Afro-Creole.

    The simple truth is that chattel slavery is the distinguishing sign that lets us, the Afro-Creole descendants of the trans-Atlantic slave trade, know that we are the true Israelites of the Book of Yahweh (so-called Old Testament). For chattel slavery entered into via slave ships was prophesied at Deuteronomy 28:68 as something that would befall the true Israelites.

    It was also prophesied that we would *not* be paid reparations, unlike many other peoples who have been spoiled at one time or another:

    “But this is a people robbed and spoiled; they are all of them snared in holes, and they are hid in prison houses: they are for a prey, and none delivereth; for a spoil, and none saith, Restore.” (Isaiah 42:22).

    Therefore, the Indians in Trinidad should tread carefully where the Afro-Creole is concerned, for the final redemption of the scattered Israelites is also prophesied, and is not too far off. And when that happens, prophecy assures us, those who made a spoil of the Israelite will themselves be made a spoil. And those who bless us will themselves be blessed (Genesis 12:3).

    1. “And when that happens, prophecy assures us, those who made a spoil of the Israelite will themselves be made a spoil.”

      The scriptural support for the foregoing is as follows:

      “Therefore all they that devour thee shall be devoured; and all thine adversaries, every one of them, shall go into captivity; and they that spoil thee shall be a spoil, and all that prey upon thee will I give for a prey.” (Jeremiah 30:16).

      Those who are wise will understand; the wicked will not. (Daniel 12:10).

  6. Specifically regarding Genesis 12:3, my parents considered the possibility that the number of Europeans who perished during WWI, more than ten million, was the chickens of history unfortunately returning home to a deadly roost of genocides and scorched earth policies first implemented retail time and again by people like Cromwell in places like Ireland, but then taken overseas wholesale into Africa.

    It is significant, too, that the weapon which caused the most casualties among Europeans, the newly invented machine gun was manufactured from its earlier prototype, the Gatling gun, first used against First Nations people in Canada; against people like Louis Riel and Crowfoot.

    See http://www.nfb.ca/film/ballad_of_crowfoot/

    The Sherman tanks, used to deadly effect against Europeans, were first baptised in the blood of Filipinos during the American 19th Century war against Filipino patriots like Aguinaldo.

    In addition, WWII during which more than sixty million European civilians and soldiers perished, my parents saw as history again come calling, to take in only four years what Europe had in four hundred years, taken out of Africa.

    In fact, while Europeans generally suffered dreadfully, the Germans suffered more per capita than others, for example Dresden; history’s calling card for Germany’s 1885 role in staging the iniquitous Berlin Conference.

    In this conference, Africans formerly enslaved, saw their territories now carved up, as Leopold II Emperor of Belgium said, “like an African cake and of which he would get his share”.

    Mark Twain, in a poem summarizes the role played by Leopold in The Shame Of The Congo.

    See: http://www.chss.montclair.edu/english/furr/i2l/kls.html

    Also, America’s Civil War (1861-1865) in four years, claimed more American casualties than America has lost in all wars in which Americans have fought since. It’s continuing flirtation with ubiquitous violence stems from its historic mindset about the dehumanizing of Africans.

    Unfortunately, Africa itself, its leadership more thugs and bandits foisted on the populace by European merchant and mercenary interests, continues to lose masses of its peoples through wars and genocides.

    In the Diaspora, Africans there continue to perish through homicides caused by self-hatred, and from lifestyle illnesses and diseases primarily caused by violating dietary laws regarding eating swine.

    1. “In the Diaspora, Africans there continue to perish through homicides caused by self-hatred, and from lifestyle illnesses and diseases primarily caused by violating dietary laws regarding eating swine.”

      Well no. Scripture is very clear as to the Prime Cause. The “Africans of the Diaspora”, by which I take it you mean the victims of the trans-Atlantic slave trade, are scattered Israelites, fulfilling Deuteronomy 28:68 and other prophecy. We are in our present pitiful state because Yahweh cursed us for breaking the law of the Covenant, prime among them the very first commandment. That Covenant applies only to the seed of Israel, not to any other people. That is what makes Israel a holy or set-apart people. Our destiny is either to be set above all other nations, or to be set beneath them. Our problem is not caused by “lifestyle illnesses and diseases”, nor even “violating dietary laws”. Our problem is that we are “cursed in the city, cursed in the field” (Deu 28:16). And we were cursed because our forefathers broke the laws of the holy covenant Yahweh entered into exclusively with us. We will continue to be cursed (and the curses upon us serve the purpose also of a sign that would let us and all else know that we are the people of the Book) up until Yahweh’s return.

      From Daniel 12:7 and Hosea 6:2 we can be sure that his return is imminent.

      And when he returns we can be sure that there will be a major settling of scores. It is quite possible that some interim payback has already occurred, along the lines you mention. However, the prophecies call for nothing less than the overturning of the current world order, as we see from:

      “And kings shall be thy nursing fathers, and their queens thy nursing mothers: they shall bow down to thee with their face toward the earth, and lick up the dust of thy feet; and thou shalt know that I am Yahweh: for they shall not be ashamed that wait for me.” (Isaiah 49:23).

      The Indians in T&T have the option to graft themselves into the house of Israel. Dohglarization is only an extreme possibility, not however strictly required; it would be sufficient for them to walk our walk with us, i.e. assimilate, and become part of the mixed multitude that will be regathered (Isa 56:6-7, Eze 47:22).

      However, my expectation is that there are too many stumbling blocks in the way (pride and arrogance not least) for that to happen, although there are many Indos who are “Trini 2 de bone” in the same sense that Rudder meant. The latter however are few compared to the tribal mass represented by UNC.

      At the end, we shall see what we shall see.

  7. I see that racist pnm propagandists are taking over as they are on the Express-They are missing the Gravy Train-no more freeness,handouts,cronyism,nepotism,smart cards,free HDC houses etc
    I do hope that PP supporters(70% of the Electorate) do not but the Express!!


  9. I am a Trini living abroad and it really makes me sad to see how little Trinis want to move on and accept the cohesion needed for a for a successful nation.
    While we are busy moaning and groaning about our racial origins and about whose experience of oppression was greater, the present and the future are being made less successful. The colonial strategy of divide and rule is still very much with us. Equality of man is a genetic and historical fact….we all have common genes. The rest is for us all to learn to respecwith all of us key to accept that equality in our behaviour and thinking.

    Good Luck to this lovely ……divided nation..whose potential will remain…….untapped….if sections of talent are excluded, for reasons of racial biggotry.

    Would it not be better if we were to join forces to get the Government to rebuild POS General hospital? It was dilapidated when I was a child…it is still dilapidated after so many years as a rich, independent nation.

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