Trinbagonian versus African Descent

Emancipation Day Special: Part 1

By Dr. Kwame Nantambu
July 19, 2011

As T&T celebrates the United Nations-sponsored “International Year for People of African Descent,” it is a sine qua non to analyze/investigate the crucial reality of being Trinbagonian versus, albeit compared to, being of African descent in this Euro-centric environment.

The stark reality is that the ordinary Trinbagonian of African descent does not regard himself or herself as African. He/she is Trinbagonian, period.

Moreover, he/she would prefer to be called “Afro” or even “Negro”— call them everything else but African.

This unconscionable historical dislocation of Trinbagonians of African descent is shamefully reflected/propagated in headline articles in a local newspaper dated 17 July, 2011, titled “Afro Trinis earning more” and “Caribbean Americans and Afro-Americans”.

The stark reality is that the label “Afro” has been expunged from the societal jargon/lexicon of the United States since 1988; ergo, now is the time for Trinbagonians of all descents “to get with the program.”

The fact of the matter is that Barack Obama is America’s first African-American/ Black President. He is not America’s first Afro-American President. And it would be a total insult and the zenith of disrespect to refer to him as such.

In addition, Mrs. Beatrice Welters is the African-American Ambassador to T&T. She is not the Afro-American Ambassador to T&T. And it would also be a total insult and the zenith of diplomatic disrespect to refer to her as such.

Indeed, there exists an overt, tragic dichotomy between being a Trinbagonian versus being an African. The truism is that 99.9 percent of Trinbagonians of African descent consider T&T as their Home as in Mother Country; they do not consider themselves as belonging to Mother Africa.

The fact of the matter is that this historical-ancestral umbilical cord was severed centuries ago and it has not yet been re-constructed as of this writing.

It must be clearly understood that being an African is an inside job wherein one internalizes one’s Africanness. Celebrating one’s African heritage does not an African make. Dressing in very expensive African outfits does not an African make. Adopting an African name and being fluent/knowledgeable about African history does not an African make. In fact, the reverse may be true and that’s the real situation in T&T today.

The reality is that the vast majority of Trinbagonians of African descent are simply outward and/or “one-ah-Day” Africans— annually on 1st August: so-called Emancipation Day.

To this vast majority, being African is a feeling-good exercise on that day; it is certainly not a liberating, consciousness-elevating exercise.

Inwardly, this vast majority is “Trini to D Bone”, 24-7-365. Ergo, their celebration of “People of African Descent” is being celebrated as Trinbagonians, not as Africans.

As such, this celebration only tantamounts to nothing more than one more full year of carnival mentality.

This Euro-centric feeling-good mindset speaks volumes as to the mental slavery that now afflicts and affects this vast majority of Trinbagonians of African descent.

As deceased founder of the Black Consciousness Movement (BCM) during the Apartheid era in South Africa, Steve Biko once remarked: “The most potent weapon of the oppressor is the mind of the oppressed.”

Put another way, Emancipation Day celebration in T&T only serves to physically free Trinbagonians of African descent; however, in this celebrative year, these Trinbagonians have not yet emancipated themselves from mental/psychical slavery. This is real.

Maybe, Trinbagonians of African descent have not yet read nor internalize Bob Marley’s memo titled:

“Emancipate yourself from mental slavery
None but ourselves can free our minds”.

Indeed, this year-long celebration will do absolutely nothing whatsoever to transform the ordinary Trinbagonian of African descent into a true internalized African. He/she will still be permanently cemented in his/her Euro-centric Trinbagonian mind-set as at 31 December, 2011.

And this is the endemic problem with the approach to African history in T&T— it is from a Euro-centric, feeling-good perspective rather than an Afri-centric perspective. The Afri-centric perspective utilizes African history as a potent, effective change agent.

From the Afri-centric perspective, T&T represents the Destination of Trinbagonians of African descent while Africa represents their Home as in Mother Land. Africans came from Africa to T&T and not the other way around—- that approach is totally ahistorical and Euro-centric, period. We were all Africans first and then we all became Trinbagonians, Brazilians, Cubans, Jamaicans, etc.

Indeed, it is totally insane, ridiculous and also laughable for any one to be ‘African’ only on 1st August but a Trinbagonian from 2nd August to 31st July annually. Nevertheless, that’s the current and recurrent dysfunctional Euro-centric mind-set among Trinbagonians of African descent.

And the powers-that-be in the Emancipation Support Committee (ESC) have done absolutely nothing nor will the celebration of the ” International Year for People of African Descent” also do anything whatsoever to change this Euro-centric mind-set among Trinbagonians of African descent.

Indeed, it is important for Trinbagonians of African descent to be cognizant of the adage: “Knowledge is power. Information is valuable. A people who are ignorant of their past will defile the present and destroy the future.”

And as the erudite , Afri-centric, African-American scholar Dr. Marimba Ani admonishes:

“You’re not an African because you’re born in Africa. You’re an African because Africa is born in you. It’s in your genes… your DNA… your entire biological make-up. Whether you like it or not, that’s the way it is. However, if you were to embrace this truth with open arms … my, my, my…what a wonderful thing.”

Translation—Mother Africa is born in us; it’s in our genes, our DNA. T&T is just an accident of birth, albeit an indictment /imposition, from Father Europe per colonialism and slavery.

Or as Dr. Hollis “Chalkdust” Liverpool opines in song in relation to the liberation consciousness of Trinbagonians of African descent :”Dey aint see Africa yet, ah lie?”

In the final analysis, the fundamental question/outcome is that as at 31 December, 2011, would Trinbagonians who attended the year-long celebration activities consider and/or refer to themselves as Africans “To D Bone” or would they continue “to run from their race?”

“To be or not to be, that’s the question.”

Shem Hotep (“I go in peace”).

Dr. Kwame Nantambu is a part-time lecturer at Cipriani College of Labour and Co-operative Studies.

20 Responses to “Trinbagonian versus African Descent”


  • We keep mixing up nationality and race/ethnicity. The South Africans are Africans (of European descent). Obama is American of African and Irish descent. Tiger Woods – American of African, N.Amican and Thai descent. I am American of Trinidadian & Tobagonian, West Indian, and East Indian descent. Should I ditch the “Mother Trinidad” then? Should I abhor all things Trinidadian and embrace America fully? Yeah, give up cricket & soccer for baseball and football? Acording to your logic – yes!
    Then I won’t be going to Caribana in Toronto and Labor Day in Brooklyn. All those carnivals in Canada, US and UK should be banned as Caribbean immigrants should cut ties to Mother Trinidad” and other Mother Caribbean countries. I should not be reading the Trinidad Express & Guardian. Forget the Soca & Chutney, pelau, roti, callalloo etc etc.

    • West Indian, and East Indian Um Um! West Indian East Indian- stop fooling yourself! You are an Indian Full Stop! the 2 former are political. For you guidance American is not a race either-Fool! Your are just a lost soul without a history as you’ve chosen actually-Yet your genetics remains same and so is your DNA. Go back to school!

  • And as the erudite , Afri-centric, African-American scholar Dr. Marimba Ani admonishes:

    “You’re not an African because you’re born in Africa. You’re an African because Africa is born in you. It’s in your genes… your DNA… your entire biological make-up. Whether you like it or not, that’s the way it is. However, if you were to embrace this truth with open arms … my, my, my…what a wonderful thing.”

    I have met Africans from Africa and Africans from the Caribbean. They are two different type of set of people. No different than Indians from the Caribbean and Indians from India. Why? Because the African experience in the Caribbean and North America is different from the African experience in Africa. The Africans I have met from Africa are more refined and more family oriented. They tend to be married and enjoy living a life like any other proud cultures of the world. The African from the Caribbean is unfortunately psychologically damaged. He does not stay with his woman and I have seen too many single parenting models for my liking. Africans from Africa care about their image and are more likely to disassociate from the Africans from the Caribbean.

    Now I have come to this conclusion experientially, if you read the media messages or visit Africa it may be diffrent. I dont know.

  • We keep mixing up nationality and race/ethnicity. The South Africans are Africans (of European descent).

    When you have no knowledge of simple geography you ought to stay away from commenting on issues like these. The indigenous peoples of South Africa are not European or of European descent. The vast Majority of South Africans, whether that term is used in a national context or a geographic context, are people who have inhabited that area since time immemorial Europeans came there and usurped and oppressed the indigenous peoples of that area. To the same extent that you cannot use that description to refer to the inhabitants of T&T, you cannot use it to describe any land mass where indigenous peoples existed from time immemorial.

    If a chinese person born in Trinidad is still a chinese, and an Indian born in T&T i9s still an Indian, an African is an Afrcan regardless of their birth place. If you want to come down to description, African is not an ethncity. It is the only racial group that can produce genetic evidence to corroborate this fact, because Africans happen to be the first people to walk upright in this world. All other groups are mutations of different forms, and perhaps that is why all other groups are found to have at least 4% of neanderthal genes.

    Finally, there is no clause in Imotephs’ will that allows any jackass to make dterminations of what we are. You claim to be an Arab and that is your choice. The slave master inheritance that inundate your mindset perhaps confuses you and carries you back to that point and time. If my mother gave birth to me in China or an oven I would neither be Chinese or biscuit. In this context you need to shed the ignorance that is becoming boorish and nauseating. Only a jackass would assume that he can extrapolate his individual experiences with the few Caribbean Africans or other Africans that might have encountered across a entire population. But then again they say that pregudice is a symptom of ignorance, and boy, you surely give credence to that observation.

    • “a jackass would assume that he can extrapolate his individual experiences with the few Caribbean Africans or other Africans that might have encountered across a entire population” Keith Williams

      Now this is why I say there is a diffrence, because the Africans from the mother land would never speak like Mr. Williams. The ones I have met (qualifying statement) are very cultured and concern about their image in the world. I do not claim that all Africans from the mother land is like that…But I have met a good many of them and find them to be simply more cultured than the African in the Caribbean. Most genuine Africans will agree with me.Why? They will say it is effect of slavery. In Jamaica over 60% of the population is single parent. Unfortunately, Africans born in Trinidad are following that trend, but it has not always that way, going back to 60s. Most social psychologist will tell you that homes where there are single parenting, these homes are the most vulnerable for children turning to gangs and criminality. The Africans from the motherland that I have met are married and living with wife and children. It is no diffrent from any civilize culture. That’s all I am saying.

  • The only permanent marker of identity is carried around with us in the blood. Everything else, including a land mass where we sojourn now, or a land mass where our forefathers may have sojourned for thousands of years, is temporary. To be “Trini to d bone” is a cultural affectation, often a pose, but there is no such thing as “Trini by blood”.

    Likewise, it is not Africa that flows in our blood, it is a seedline that goes back to Noah, a flesh and blood person. Everyone on the planet is of the “race of Noah”, which is a way of saying Noah is the root of the entire family tree. (The word “race” comes from the Latin “radix” which means “root”, literally.) But we all go back to Noah through one of three sons — Shem, Ham, and Japheth. Therefore, at this first-level division, there are three races of mankind corresponding to these sons of Noah.

    As it happens, Ham is associated with the land mass today called Africa, through his sons Canaan, Phut, Kush, and Mizraim. Canaan lived in the land now known as Palestine, Phut in the place today called Libya, Kush in Ethiopia, and Mizraim in Egypt. Kush had a son named Nimrod, who famously built the tower of Babel in a place that today is called Iraq. So Ham got around, and was not limited to the land mass we call Africa today.

    Shem for his part produced the line that came down to Abraham->Isaac->Jacob. The children of Jacob (aka Israel) sojourned in the lands of Canaan, and Mizraim, and clearly were also a “black” people like Ham, because Joseph’s brothers took him for an Egyptian, and Moses was raised in Pharaoh’s household as his own grandchild, after he had issued a decree to slay all the new-born male Israelite (sons of Jacob) children.

    And later, millions of Israelites scattered into Africa, and lived among the Hamites, who themselves had earlier scattered south and west into Africa from the Edenic region of the North-east. (See Chancellor Williams, The Destruction of African Civilization. See also Cheikh Anta Diop, Civilization or Barabarism. It is because of this scattering that echoes of Kemetic (Egyptian) civilization may be found all over Africa, while Egypt today is called an “Arab” republic.) My point? We the “Afro-Creoles” (see note) of the Caribbean and the Americas are descended from the Shemitic line of Jacob/Israel, not from Mizraim (Kemet) or any other Hamitic line. The reason is that we fulfill all the relevant biblical prophecies. So we came *from* Africa alright, but we also came *into* Africa. The evidence is in the fulfillment of prophecy, but it will also be in the blood.

    More significant than laying claim to a land-mass, we may lay claim to being of the seed (or root) of Jacob. There are still many Israelite tribes sojourning in Africa, e.g. the Lemba, the Igbo, the Baganda, the Zulu (in part), the Yoruba (in part), among many others. This is important to know. I’ve been to Africa several times. Very few “African” consider themselves to be “African”. Identity is a tribal thing, and tribes trace back along a seedline to an original patriarch. All in Africa know their tribal identity. Some don’t even know that they are on a continent today named “Africa” — on maps produced by Europeans.

    And when the slave trade occurred, the “Africans” who uniformly were sold into slavery were black Israelites, not black Hamites (e.g. Wolof of West Africa, Kushites of Ethiopia), not black Edomites (e.g. Idoma of Nigeria, Asante of Ghana), not black Ishmaelites (e.g. North Sudanese). I am saying all this, not per se to reject African consciousness (like Joseph and
    Moses, we have inter-married with Hamitic women), nor black consciousness, but to raise Israelite consciousness.

    This will ultimately be more powerful, because true and real — this reawakening was also prophesied (Isaiah 44:4). It is in the blood, the way the association with a landmass, temporary as it may be given all the comings and goings of humanity, can never be.

    Shalom.

    Note: The term Afro-Creole is precise in a way that “African Trinidadian” cannot be, because “African” denotes someone carrying a passport of an African country, not only someone carrying features deemed “African”. Hence an immigrant born in Nigeria, now carrying a T&T passport may be “African-Trinidadian”, but not an Afro-Creole. The term Afro-Creole means born on this side, of African heritage, moreover acculturated to the civilization we have here developed. There is nothing wrong or derogatory about the prefix Afro, or Indo, or Sino. And their use avoids the sort of ambiguity — heritage vs nationality — that would otherwise attach to the full terms African, Indian, Chinese, etc. The same ambiguity attaches to the term African-American, and I think we should not copy it, especially not based on spurious ideology or political correctness. And btw, the powers that be would rather keep us confused thinking that we are African, than have us embrace our true heritage and future destiny as Israelites of the book! See http://lawoftheholycovenantfoundation.org for more info.

  • Wait, wait, wait, having lived in many different countries in Africa and to the ordinary African I was never an African. I was a West Indian and a Trinidadian but not an African. As a matter of fact they don’t consider themselves as African, they are Nigerian and then only secondly. Primarily a Yuroba man/woman or a Ebo man/woman. The higher up the hierachy one starts to hear muffed tones of diaspora but only as so far as how the interconnectivity would be broached. The diaspora would be better able to interlink with the external forces to facilitate the internal politik.
    Once, in Senegal, someone selling the slave trade in tourism tried to explain to me how the captured were held and sold to the European traders. When I questioned him further on the capturing he referred me to the status of king and princes deciding who was to be captured and which level of society was disposable and for sale.
    So we can celebrate the year but we should not lose track and aspire to something that we would never be allowed to be. There are people of the African diaspora in Africa fighting to remain there and be part of the great Mother African and their greatest hinderance is presented by Africans who see them as interlopers and johnny come latelys.
    Lets celebrate and learn, but keep our feet on the ground.

  • Same parallel in India – very few people call themselves ‘Indian’. They are either Bengali, Marathi, Punjabi, Sindhi, Madrassi (Tamil), Bihari etc. We are still confusing Nationality with race and ethnicity.

    Yoruba Israelite – great article. How come no mention of the Congo. That’s where most of Windians came from.

    • Its called negative ethnicity Fool! A culmination of racist Colonialism. Based on whats going on in TNT soon we will accept Arimian Sanfernoan WoodBrookian and all those stupid ethnic frivolousness that are at the core of Divide & control.

  • I agree.

    Facts are stubborn things. They certainly are resistant to mere ideology.

    Here is one fact. The Falasha Jews of Ethiopia are a black people who call themselves “beta Israel”, which literally means “house of Israel”. The word “Falasha” on the other hand means “stranger”, and was the name put on them by the Kushite people of Ethiopia when they first arrived there about two thousand years ago. Two thousand years later, they are still called “stranger”.

    Here is another fact. The Ashanti (Asante) people have apologized for their role in the slave trade. (See Godfrey Mwakikagile (2007). Relations between Africans and African Americans: misconceptions, myths and realities. New Africa Press. At p. 164: “Six years ago, a delegation of Ghanaian Chiefs led by Nana Oduro Numamapau, the Paramount Chiefs of Asumenya in the Asante Region did in fact travel to the USA to deliver an apology to an African-American group for Ghanaian chiefs’ role in the slave trade.”)

    By way of compensation, they have offered free land, in a place called Fihankra — I was there once — to returning slave descendants.

    The underlying reality is that a black Edomite people (the Ashanti) sold a black Israelite people into slavery, to white Edomite people. These latter are white Jewish slave traders such as Aaron Lopez — see Nation of Islam, Historical Research Department, The Secret Relationship between Blacks and Jews.

    Likewise, Black Hamites in Senegal, most likely from an Egyptian or Kemetic seedline, sold black Israelites (us) into slavery.

    If we see ourselves as “African” or “black” it will never make sense why brother would have sold brother into slavery. When we understand tribal and seedline dynamic, it begins to make more sense.

    My point is not to rekindle old tribal animosities. Scripture is clear that we the Israelites would be scattered to the four corners of the earth (Deuteronomy 28:64 and elsewhere) if we disobeyed the law of the covenant to which we were bound as Yahweh’s chosen people. Therefore, our captivity should be blamed first on no one but ourselves. Nevertheless, Yahweh promises punishment, a la Black Stalin’s “Bu’n dem”, for those who wiped their feet on us, whether black or white, brown or other, unless there is repentance and recompense (yes, reparations!).

    Reparations will of course not happen in time to prevent the coming punishment. But the Ashanti (Asante) at least have some glimmer of understanding as to what is required. what they have done through Nana Oduro Numamapau ca. 2001 is in my opinion too little. In the first place, the apology should come from the highest level, namely the Asantehene (the Ashanti king) and further subscribed to by the President of Ghana and his government, to ensure that the recompense offered is real, and does not turn into bureaucratic run-around.

    Any talk of African consciousness without dealing with the issue of recompense — apology at minimum — due to the Afro-Creole slave descendants of the Americas, by the Hamitic, Edomite, and Ishmaelite tribes of Africa which had a hand in the trans-Atlantic slave trade, is building castles in the sky out of ideology and political correctness. Scripture is clear that it is the truth that will make us free. Ideology and false talk of political correctness, whether sanctioned by the U.N. or otherwise, will not do it.

    We the Afro-Creoles of the Americas, are Israelites! That is the rock-bottom reality that we need to come to terms with. It explains our captivity, the curses under which we have struggled for lo, so many hundreds of years. But it also foretells a glorious destiny (e.g. Deuteronomy 30:5-10, Isaiah 49:23), for those of us who return unto Yahweh and get right with him.

    Shalom.

  • Well it is everyone’s choice to identify with what they want to. Because someone chooses to identify solely with their national birth place is not an imperative that others should follow that pattern. I am an African immediately after my human identificaton, and everything else afterwards. That is distinction I will not yield.

    My presence in the West is a result of a forced removal. To therefore constrict my historical self identification to the time that holocaust ended is ridiculous. That is what most of the anti-black assholes desire, because it allows them rationalize their nurtured perspective that the existence of black people began with slavery. I believe that we have to be frontal in presenting the fact that as black people we represent humanity in its original non mutated form. If those that have gone through this mutation over the thousands of years of human existence can beat on their chest and scream about “me ah dis” and me ah dat”, hell, my grandparents to the furthest infinity looked exactly as I look today. And I am damn proud of that.

    • Keith:

      I understand where you’re coming from, because I’ve been there. However, “African” is not the term that describes the identity that you assert. “Original Man” maybe might do it.

      There is no land mass to which the Original Man may not lay a claim. I remember meeting a Fijian lady once, and to all appearances she was African, but the Fijians came to the South Pacific a very long time ago. In what sense is she “African”?

      If you say she is unmutated, and therefore African, then your definition of Africa would have to be broadened to include at least all the lands drained by the Tigris and Euphrates, and you may well want to stretch it to include all the lands where unmutated man walked, which would likely be the whole planet. How useful would that be?

      Mutated or otherwise, we all go back to a single paternal root. That is Noah. There then follows the 3-fold division of Shem, Ham, and Japheth. Later divisions occur on the family tree of mankind.

      The Afro-Creole of the Caribbean and the Americas, trace back to the patriarch Jacob (aka Israel). We certainly are “African” in the sense of unmutated, and in the sense of a definition of an African land mass embracing the lands drained by the Tigris and Euphrates rivers.

      But why force an identification with a land mass, when what defines us, wherever we may sojourn, is the seed of our forefather?

      And of all our forefathers go back to Noah, it is the destiny prophesied for Jacob and his sons which have defined our reality since. Scattered to the four corners. Enslavement. Loss of name. Loss of culture. Loss of religion. From king, to priest, to prophet, to peasant. Everybody else knows exactly where they come from, and remain connected to the seeds of their forefathers through the names that they carry. We answer to someone else’s name. In a word, we lost our identity.

      That we would was prophesied a long time ago. And Yahweh requires us to search for and reclaim that identity. There was a conspiracy to make us forget (Psalms 83:4), and there remains a conspiracy to keep us in a state of forgetfulness as to who we really are. There are even impostors that would steal that identity from us (Revelation 2:9, 3:9; Daniel 11:14).

      Therefore, it is the Israelite identity that matters.

      More broad — African — and you are lumping in with named tribes that Yahweh has some serious scores to settle with. You may want to be part of that settlement; I don’t.

      Less broad — Trini to d bone, Yardie, etc. — and your view is so limited you’ll never come to understand where we have come from, and how come we came to be in the condition we are in. Yahweh has a score to settle too with those of us who choose to remain so blinded. That settlement too I will avoid.

      Obviously, you are free to identify in whatever way seems best to you. To me, the bottom line question is what is true and real. The bottom line answer is that we, the Afro-Creoles of the Caribbean and the Americas, are of the seed of Jacob, and our sojourn here in this land that is not ours, was prophesied 3,500 years ago by Moses, the great grandson of Levi, the third son of Jacob. To use your term, they were all unmutated.

      If I were of the line of Ham and Mizraim (Egyptian) I would happily embrace it. Likewise, if I were of the line of Ham and Kush (Ethiopian). But that is not true and real.

      Yes, we have sojourned in the lands of Ham — Canaan, Mizraim, and from “beyond the rivers of Ethiopia” — lands now more or less collectively called “Africa”. But it is seedline that is true and real and permanent; land mass, like form in cricket, is temporary.

      Shalom.

  • Well the long one was not posted so I thought this was the limit for people like me

  • Can we get some consensus about how to call each other once and for all? I’m happy with a simple ‘Indo-Trinidadian’. I’m sure the Sino and Euro Trinidadians would be ok with that ( as if they give a rat’s behind). I’m ok with Afro-Trinidadian but that’s stirring a hornet’s nest here. What’s the consensus, guys? I don’t think we should be using colours anymore: Black, Brown, White, Yellow.

    • Well I am an African as much as I am Carib Indian & French and that’s my DNA, of which I am not to proud of. Look at the confusion. But its fact. I am indigenous as a result of Spanish Slavery of both the African & Arawak Americas, English Colonialism & Indentured Labor and the defeated French aristocracy that succumbed and been recruited in the British contingent that inherited from their cousins (us) slaves from its Spanish devils. I am African and it doesn’t mater how much White historians denigrate “Africa”me.

  • There is so much here in this delightful conversation that I don’t know who to address, so I am just going to say my piece. Guys don’t you think that this discourse identifies what is wrong with our country. Let me say that I am a quintessential Trinbagonian and I am proud of all my ancestors, the ANCESTRAL EXPERIMENT THAT IS ME, could only have happened in this beautiful land. To add to this, my cultural diversity has been a real blessing to me, I can relate to just about anyone without prejudice.
    But let me get back to the defined topic, to Dr Nantambu let me say that I take great exception to your inference that we should get with the programme and follow the linguistic shenanigans of Americans. They are the last English speaking people on earth you may want to model your speech after. What is Africa, is it a place, a culture does it define a single race of people. We tend to relegate this huge complex continent to the status of a small simple country. It is 11.6 million sq mls, home to 54 countries, countless languages and cultures and over a billion people of many different ethnicities. It is the home of mankind, oldest known ancestor of humans are found in Ethiopia and the cradle of civilization, the Nile region. So how do we define being African, that to me is a very vague description of self. Those of you who claim to be Jewish, I can understand you wanting to run from your African past because its so vague and downright embarrassing because of slavery, but your history did not start there,go into the long and illustrious history of the continent and you would get a better understanding of the self within, the role your ancestors played in the development of human society and who you are today. So let me say that I am proud of my vague African ancestors (I hope to know more of them someday),my Carib forefathers, my French great,great grandfather, my English great grandfather and my Irish forebears. Mix in all that East Indian culture that influenced me from my earliest memory and you get a Trini To The Bone. Now I don’t mind being called Afro Trini, Afri Trini, or Mixed Trini but to me I’ll always be just a Trini. It is not important what I am called but rather how I define myself and who I am.
    Nuff Said.

    • Derick:

      Those of you who claim to be Jewish, I can understand you wanting to run from your African past because its so vague and downright embarrassing because of slavery

      I do not claim to be Jewish; I am an Israelite, and moreover so are my brethren the Afro-Creole slave descendants of the Americas. It is just that most of us don’t know it yet.

      What’s the difference? The matter is complicated, but the simple summation of it is that those who today call themselves Jews, fall into three predominant categories, namely (i) the Khazar (East European) Jews, who do not trace back to Abraham, rather are gentile sons of Japheth, (ii) the Sephardic Jews, who trace back to the land of Israel, but are not of the seed of Israel, rather are a gentile people brought over to populate the land of Samaria after the northern kingdom was taken away ca. 725 BC by the Assyrians; and (iii) the Edomite Jews, who trace back to Esau, twin brother of Jacob (Israel), and who therefore are Hebrew Edomite, but not Hebrew Israelite — they came up into the land of Judah after Nebuchadnezzar sacked Jerusalem and took the tribe of Judah into captivity in Babylon.

      Hence, those who today call themselves Jews are not of the seed of Israel (Jacob), and therefore those who occupy the land called Israel today are also not of the seed of Israel. They are so-called Jews, and Israelis, but they are not Israelite.

      Interestingly they never make the latter claim; rather they leave it to others to make that (false) inference for them.

      I say, “so-called Jews”, because Yeshua (Christ) put us on our guard when he said “I know the blasphemy of them which say they are Jews, and are not …” (Revelation 2:9). Daniel also put us on guard when he said “the robbers of thy people shall exalt themselves to establish the vision, but shall fail” (Daniel 11:14). Therefore, we know that there are fake, or so-called, Jews.

      We know further it can’t be the Afro-Creoles of the Americas because we do not “say we are Jews”. It is the aforementioned Khazars, Sephardim, and Edomites who make, falsely, such a claim. And they moreover convict themselves — see Arthur Koestler, The 13th tribe; Shlomo Sand, The invention of the Jews; and Jewish Encyclopedia, 1925 edition, Vol. 5, p. 41, where we find the statement: “Edom is in Modern Jewry”.

      As to the Israelite origin of the Afro-Creoles of the Americas, this may be proven scripturally (I also separately claim direct spiritual knowledge of the fact, take it or leave it) because we alone, of all people on the planet, fulfill all the curses of Deuteronomy 28:15-68. These curses moreover were to be a “sign” by which we would come to remember who we were (Deu 28:46). The clincher lies in v. 68, which describes the key features of the trans-Atlantic slave trade — that we would be taken into slavery “in ships”, and sold into a kind of slavery from which no man could redeem us, ie. chattel slavery. Moreover, it was prophesied that we would be scattered to the four corners of the earth, and be afflicted 400 years in a land that is not ours, and that we would lose our culture, heritage, language, and even our names. This very discussion is evidence of the last, for unlike every other people on the planet, we do not carry the names of our ancient forebears, and don’t even know what to call ourselves as a people. So *we* fit the prophecies; the so-called Jews do not. For deeper analysis of these points, see http://lawoftheholycovenantfoundation.org.

      In any case, the term “Jew” came to mean someone living in the land of Judah, not necessarily someone of the seed of Judah. In that sense, king Herod, the Edomite, could be called a “Jew”, in the same way that anyone born in Trinidad, of whatever parentage or seedline, may be entitled to call themselves a “Trini”. Now, Judah was merely the fourth son of Israel, one of 12. Therefore there are many who are Israelite who are not Jew, taking the term Jew in the strict sense of being one who is of the seed of Judah. In my case, and in the case of the Afro-Creoles of T&T, we are of the tribe of Benjamin, and therefore not Jews in that strict sense. Certainly also we are not Jews in the loose sense used by modern Jewry. (Those who are Jews in that loose sense of modern Jewry would know it, and there certainly are white Trinidadians with Jewish heritage, and no doubt also some inter-mingling with Afro-Creoles. The product of such inter-mingling, may also be of the *house* of Israel, though not of the paternal seedline.)

      As to “running from my African past”, I do no such thing. I call myself “Yoruba Israelite” in fact to emphasize an African connection to the Yoruba people. (But the Yoruba people are in any case a partially Israelite tribe; that is why so many of the Yoruba made the Middle Passage.) And there remain Israelite tribes throughout the length and breadth of Africa, “beyond the rivers of Ethiopia”, including the Lemba, the Igbo, the Baganda, the Zulu (partially). At the same time there are Edomite tribes in Africa, like the Idoma, and some of the Akan. There are Canaanite tribes, such as the Ijebu (Jebusites of the Bible). There are also lots of Hamitic tribes, certainly the Kushites of Ethiopia, and many Kemetic (Egyptian) tribes (e.g. the Wolof of Senegal) that were displaced south and west into Africa as Egypt became overrun in turn by Babylonians (themselves Hamitic), Persians, Greeks, Romans, and black and red Arabs.

      I am saying all that to say that there is much about Africa and African heritage to run to, not away from, not least being the glory of ancient Egypt. And to lay claim to an Israelite heritage is not at all to run away from Africa, for that is still today where the bulk of Israelites may be found. Furthermore, to claim an Israelite heritage, as a simple matter of fact, is to embrace the slave past of my forebears, not to run from it, because it is the slave past that is the biggest “sign” that lets us know that we are Israelite.

      I am trained as an engineer. I learnt a long time ago that no building stands or machine runs on the basis of false ideologies and assumptions, however devoutly we may wish them to be the case. Therefore, I ground my approach to the question of identity likewise on fact, truth, and reality. As Yeshua said, “the truth shall make us free.”

      And if you would know the truth, I am rather proud of Afro-Creole accomplishment and the civilization we have built here in T&T and elsewhere, against huge odds. I acknowledge the inputs from other streams, but the simple fact is that it is the Afro-Creole contribution that is defining of whatever we mean by “Trini to d bone”. Why would I run from that? Neither do I run *to* Africa, as is the fashion in some quarters, here exemplified by Dr. Nantambu, or *from* Africa, for that precisely is where still lies the bulk of the true Israelite heritage.

      Shalom.

  • Carlene Marshall-Knight

    This conversation is symptomatic of the problem! Splitting hairs about labels and titles; at times I am disheartened as it seems we are stuck in endless discourse and analysis with no real tangible solution. The problem of people of African descent all whether they are Trinidad or any other country is generally the same; we are plagued by our own self hatred never mind the racism and prejudice of others.

    I live and work in the very cosmopolitan city of London and come into contact with people from all walks of life and the one common thing I see in all the success of these people is that they have strong identities and cultural links that they embrace.

    People of African decent have nothing to be ashamed of. Slavery happened but we survived; a lesser people may have been made extinct. We are broken by the process; but we can be whole again if we stop blaming ourselves and embrace it. I believe that the original article said it eloquently:

    “You’re not an African because you’re born in Africa. You’re an African because Africa is born in you. It’s in your genes… your DNA… your entire biological make-up. Whether you like it or not, that’s the way it is. However, if you were to embrace this truth with open arms … my, my, my…what a wonderful thing.”

    It really angers me when I hear people say that it was Africans who sold Africans into slavery. Does that in some way reduce the guilt of the European or justify what was inflicted upon us? A father physically and sexually abuses his children does this fact give licence to the next man that comes along?

    Secondly, I find that people who have not had the experience of being of African decent are too often dismissive of what that means and contributes to the identity and wholeness that one must have to be feel equal. Many forget, that they have their cultural identity; they never questioned their humanity nor did any one else; they were not the ones denuded of these essentials.

    We need to move quickly on from all this talking to action to try and save the young men of African descent! The dire state of young men of African decent is a pandemic we cannot ignore.

    As a people we need to embrace our “Africaness”, and that does not in any way mean that we lose some other part of our who we are; it simple means that we love our “Africaness” equally!

  • I would be called ‘racist’ and backward by Afro-Trinis if I wrote the following:
    “You’re not an Indian because you’re born in India. You’re an Indian because India is born in you. It’s in your genes… your DNA… your entire biological make-up. Whether you like it or not, that’s the way it is. However, if you were to embrace this truth with open arms … my, my, my…what a wonderful thing.”

    As a people we need to embrace our “Indianess”, and that does not in any way mean that we lose some other part of our who we are; it simple means that we love our “Indianess” equally!

    Thank you Carlene!

  • According to the latest information of the beginnings of life, it started around the Nile. So what is the problem. We all have DNA from the original man, whether you look white, black, blue or green. History is good but it forever changing according to the information made available and who is reporting it, therefore it should be noted and referenced periodically but it should not get in the way of the future.

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