Happy Emancipation!

By Dr. Selwyn R. Cudjoe
July 31, 2008

EmancipationThe Airports Authority’s emancipation exhibit in its atrium proudly proclaims, “Happy Emancipation” and informs us that “in 1985, Trinidad and Tobago became the first country in the world to declare a national holiday, Emancipation Day, to commemorate the abolition of slavery on August 1, 1834.” As I am neither a linguist nor a logographer, I wondered why the use of “happy” to describe Emancipation Day and in what sense it should be described thus.

I don’t want to be picky and I understand why enslaved persons were happy when they were emancipated–there was great rejoicing–but I cannot understand why, in 2008, it is still considered a “happy” day. Are we supposed to rejoice and sing; get ecstatic because emancipation happened; or commiserate with the happiness our ancestors felt when they were emancipated?

When a stranger comes up to me and exclaims “Happy Emancipation!” how should I respond? Is he telling me I should be happy; does he wish to tell me that he knows I am happy; that he is happy because I am happy; or that he rejoices because my ancestors were freed from slavery?

The narrative of the exhibit continues: “Throughout their adversities Africans slaves retained a strong sense of their people’s history. While slave masters believed their stories, chants, songs and dances were a sign of their contentment; to the slaves they were far more significant. This is how they could keep their history and culture alive. As slaves from different tribes mingled together they even developed new dances and stories, creating their own unique culture.”

A few no nos. It is better to refer to Africans who were ensnarled in the European slave trade as enslaved persons. We should characterize groupings from which they came as ethnic groups rather than tribes. One seldom hears of European peoples (the Basques, for example) referred to as tribes. Even in Iraq, they speak of ethnic violence. In 1834 Africanness (or our being Africans) was a diasporic rather than a continental concept. Those who were taken from the homeland identified primarily with their ethnos. In other words, an Ibo captured and brought to America never saw himself as an African. He was an Ibo, plain and simple.

People, enslaved or freed, maintain their ways of life by keeping their culture alive. They could not do otherwise. Literally, they are their culture. A culture defines a person’s sense of self or his being. The trick is to determine how that identity changes over time as he or she adapts to a new land.

After Africans were freed formally, their immediate challenge was to ensure that they were rewarded adequately for their labour. As a consequence, they went to their former masters and began to bargain for wages. As they bargained for wages and better working conditions the cost of labor increased and the slave masters had to find a plaster for that sore. They promptly set their eyes on India and got some fresh laborers whose primary function was to undercut the gains Africans made after formal freedom. Some of the enslaved stayed close to the plantation; others formed new villages.

The first indentured Indians were brought to these shores in 1845. Then, there was a lull until about 1865 when they began to come in droves. By 1917, over 237,000 Indians had come to the island. They worked hard. According to the terms of their indenturship they were given lands in lieu of their passage back to India. When the English tried to stop that practice there was big panchayat in Tacarigua in 1899. Indians declared that John Morton could speak for them no longer.

Malcolm X once declared that liberation/revolution always revolves around land. Fast forward to the end of the twentieth century when my government decided that apart from giving the Indians (well mostly Indians) billions of dollars to compensate them for the termination of planting sugar cane it also gave them additional lands. Workers who were laid off by BWIA and the Port Authority had no such luck. One would not be surprised if they do not take too kindly to this massive land transfer.

When one realizes that the energy and food crises are the two most pressing crises the people in the world face today formally–freed Africans are bound to ask if they are to be held in fiefdom for the rest of their natural lives and remain perpetual consumers. A people without land may be heading towards another form of enslavement.

“Happy Emancipation Day,” you say.
The cynic answers, “What’s so happy about the day?”
“You were freed,” he says.
“My ancestors were freed but I is still catching hell.”
“You should be happy on Emancipation Day,” he insists.
The ambivalence remains.

As we commemorate this important event, we remember our ancestors’ struggle and pay homage to their courage. It is a day of combustible emotions: happiness; pain; longing; and frustration. These emotions cry out to be stilled and to find comfort in a constellation of forces that undermines the sentiments that inheres in “Happy Emancipation Day.”

25 thoughts on “Happy Emancipation!”

  1. I am reminded, this Emancipation Day, of Jonas Mohammed Bath, a freedman of the Mandingo people, who, having purchased his freedom before emancpation came, wrote to Queen Victoria to ask for compensation for haviing purchased his own freedom and that of every MAndingo person in trinidad. The British Government ignored him.Such a response had economic consequences that are still felt today.
    What was the worth of all that free labour? How does one measure the worh of the denial of one’s humanity for all those yers?

    One does not wish to be bitter, but everytime we contemplate the structural poverty f the majority of Africns in the west, one cannot help but fel that this is the result of deliberate policy, first by the british and then by those who have held power since. No goernment has sent any time discussing the status of the poor Africans in TnT, who are still poor. It would be easy to say they are lazy. If they were lazy would they have built the plantation economy of the Caribbean? Perhaps it is time to tae another look at the status of the African in trinidad and Tobago, and examine what structures are in place to “keep him in his place” As Dr. Jonetta Cole of Emory university is fond of saying “Every skinfolk is not your kinfolk”

    One of my big surprises when I worked in the Eastern Caribbean is how mny Africn looking women owned their own businesses. Those who would have a market stall in TnT owned stores and trucking companies in Antigua. Of course bank managers like John benjamin had a lot to do with that. John is one of the darkest skinned people I know. The Benjamins are one of ntigua’s most prominent business families. trinidad went along different path. Why? There were “buffer zones” of Indians, Syrians and Chinese in TnT. Weshould take another look t that.

  2. When a man is brought to justice after many years of criminal activity, the family of the victims say they now have closure. They feel that they could deal with the pain and loss because awrong has been acknowledged.
    In the case of the forced enslavement of Africans in the west, no one was brought to justice for it. The pain lingers. Although a few have publicly acknowledged their wroung, the profits made from the sale of ancestors, and the free labour they provided remain in the hands of Europeans(those same ones who are so Anti-Mugabe, and who still hold economic power in the Caribbean.

    Twice in the last two years, when in a group of Trinis of mixed blood, I have heard the derogatory term “Black Hen Chickens” used as a put down for inappropriate behaviour among young Africans. This was never something I had heard when I was growing up, nor in the first half of my life which was spent exclusively in Trinidad.

    It may be that we are regressing as African originated people and are internalizing the hate others have for our skin colour. Those who use the term must be proud of the Mixed heritage, which often is a product of bastardization(I know Dr. williams banned the term bastard. It is used here deliberately)
    On on occasion, this term was used oon an outing to the Pitch LAke from Arima by a church group. When I corrected the woman, my relative who had invited me to the trip felt that I was out of place. She too is lightskinned.

    If that attitude is now deeply ingrained in the society, it creates a negative aura that the said “Black Hen Chickens:” are constantly struggling against. Like sisyphus, they are rolling a stone up a hill with their noses. Every time the catch abreath of fresh air, it rolls backward.

    those who keep agitating for an inquiry into the coup of 1990 are dealing with painful memories of our lifetime. How will the grandchildren of the late Leo De Vignes deal with it? they will still be angry. The African originated people ofthe CAribbean, particularly in Trinidad, are still angry. Part of that anger seethes in the hearts of women whose husbands frequent houses of prostitution where they cavort with light skinned women from columbia and other places. As late George Chambers once said, he preferred a blonde. The column I wrote on that caused me a lot of trouble, because we are a people like that.

  3. “In the case of the forced enslavement of Africans in the west, no one was brought to justice for it. The pain lingers. Although a few have publicly acknowledged their wroung, the profits made from the sale of ancestors, and the free labour they provided remain in the hands of Europeans(those same ones who are so Anti-Mugabe, and who still hold economic power in the caribbean”(Linda Edwards)
    History has shown that many African slave traders delivered slaves to the Europeans.
    Ms Edwards, it seems that you are enslaved by your skewed versions and interpretations of most issues.

  4. Mr. T.Man, I am a student of history. Slaves built all the structures of the ancient world, including the Coliseum in Roma, and the Pyramids in Egypt. They also built the pyramids in the Yucatan Peninsula. Slaves like Joseph the Jew, was Pharoah Rameses 1’s accountant. The difference is, that these slaves generally could have purchased theirr freedom, were taught to read and write, and sometimes taught their masters to rad and write, and were of every hue under the sun. I have said before that the term came from Slavs the Scandinavian people who were brought back to Rome, tall gleaming people with golden hair and blue eyes. Before they came on the scene, the term was “bondsman” as against freedman. bondsmen worked to become freedmen. At his deathoon the battlefield, Giaus Brutus freed his slave. These documents were called scripts of mnumission. They made the slave a man.

    Now, nowhere else in the world,in Africa,In europe or in China was the status of slvery a permanent system, set in place by the laws of the land. This happened in the colonies of exploitation that were created in the west, from the southern United states to Brazil- the sugar and cocoa growing reas of the western hemisphere. To kep the system in place, a number of fictions were created and justified, incluidng the basic inferiority of the Negro, the fact that they were not Christians and the fact that “their own people had sold them into slavey”. no one said that of the fact that the Romansenslaved the Scandinavians.

    No, do you think you have a more enlightened picture now?There is more slavery i the world today that at the height of African enslavement in the west, but at no other time were so many processes pput into place to bind a specifiic group of ethnicities to servitude in a foreign land. Incidentally, when Eric Williams shed new light on the theories, Oxford University Press refused to publish his theis, which became Capitalism and Slavery.

    enough education for you, for now.

  5. This constant allusion to the Involvement of some Africans in the slave trade in order to rebut the experiential analysis of descendants of the ensalved is palpably disingenuous. Every group in this world, including Indians, Arabs, Jews, and Indigenous peoples had a hand or finger in the enslavement of Africans. This does not mean that the fringes associated with this have any liability where the call for an accounting is concerned, since they themselves were victims in a system that designated black/African as the lowest of the low. At the same time I am tired of people advancing these facetious arguments in order to marginalize the experience of the Transatlantic Slave Trade.

    That is why I do not celebrate emancipation day, and call for holiday throughout the Caribbean and South America to celebrate African Arrival Day. No one can make any legitimate argument against this. Emancimation date marks the day when the kidnappers and enslavers came to their senses. They should be celebrating this, not us. We should be solemnly marking the period as the begining of the end of a holocaust that endured for four hundred years.

    Africans in T&T must demand a special holiday in recognition of their arrival and contributions to the establishment of that twin Island State. There should also be a day set aside for the same purpose for the indigenous peoples who also experienced a holocaust in terms of enslavement and the colonization process. We have to either have one day to celebrate the arrival of all groups, or a day each for every group. To do less is discriminatory and an act of favouritism.

  6. I agree and many of us have advocated for establishing a “Heritage Day” for all groups.

  7. Linda, as a scientist I thank you for the History lesson. But that does not change the fact that Africans delivered slaves to the Europeans for profit.

  8. T-Man, you should also know that the Europeans fostered wars between African nations-like the Yoruba, The Igbo, the Mandingo and others, in order to help capture and sell slaves. The Africans were selling captured people, not their own people as in brothers and sisters,and ethnic or language group. The Fang did not sell the Fang, nor the Mandingo the Mandingo.Today, in Indonesia and other Eastern countries, people still sell people, or prts of people. And some of them are their children. Thomas Jeffeson, the American president, sold his bastard children into slavery, but nowhere in the folk literature that any African has read that I know of, is there evifdence of people selling their own kin.

    Again, the African Slave Trade to the west, is singular inits degradation of the enslaved people. In the process, all kinds of degenerate behaviours were perofrmed by white people.

    In a column I wrote for the express in 1985, the yer Emancipation became a nationl holiday, I pointed out that the slaver too, was emancipated, freed of his greed for proit that decimated the entire west coast ofAfrica, for a hundred miles inland.

    Processes that wer put in place in the Americas to deny the humanity of the African are still there today. Despite the huge profits made forom plantation slavery, that launched the Industrial Revolution which led to western dominance of the economic markets until the end of the twentieth century, the African in the west is stil undereducted, underpaid and thus, not always cpable of taki advantage of opportunities.

    Even where tremendous opportunities exist, like in trinidad and Tobago-to get a good education, opportunities are limited by a number of factors, the most important of which are a diet lacking in protein, and unsafe enironments. These same factors plague American inner ciies, where chilren do not maximize on the opportunity, for the same reasons.

    When people talk of reparation and compensation fo the economic deprivtaions of slavery, I wantthem to thinh=k that western goernments should put the best equipped schools, with the best trained teachers, into schools in depressed areas. This is one major compensatory project that could really help.If children were given the best, they would think they are the best, and can perform at their best. this has been well ocumented.It is not done because the attitudes that caused merchnts from London, Liverpool and the American East Coast togo to Africa to buy humans for free labour, has not changed yet.

  9. A quote from Lennox Grant’s article in The Sunday Guardian.

    “It is an unvarnished historical fact that the ancestors of President Kufuor (now visiting T&T) aided and abetted the enslavement of the ancestors of Prime Minister Manning. No validly useful purpose can be served by pretending otherwise, certainly not at the Emancipation anniversary.

    I rest my case.

  10. I respect Lennox Grants writing ability. Now, where is his DNA evidence that suggests that he was not just talking off his cuff?What ethnic group does Mr. Manning’s people belong to? I know his wife’s people were freedmen here in 1815 but I do not know about him. Where were r. Kufor’s people during the period prior to the ban on the slave trade in 1807? We see the modern displacement of Africas all over Africa due to wars in the period after WW11. Much the same thing was happening in west africa during the slave trade period.

    I respectfully sugest that my friend Lennox Grant is full of animus and nonsense, especially since Ghana was the first African country to adopt the Emancipation Day holiday, and urge other African nations to do the same.

    If he can demonstrate this from the historical record, either in the British Museum, Elmina Castle or other sources in TnT and The USA, I will unequivocally take back this comment.Too many of “our people” are anxious to lay blame on fellow Africans. No blame seem to go towards the huge profiteers in Britain and the USA from whom both Grant and i got our lighter coloured African skin.

  11. Why “lighter coloured African skin”? Why not “darker coloured European skin”?

    At emancipation, 30% of slaves were owned by “non-whites”. What colour were these “free coloured” people? Light African or dark European? The pointlessness of such a question should be relatively obvious…

    Millions of Europeans were captured by the Arabs and sold on North African slave markets. The people who today live in conditions of slavery are African but also Indian, Philipino, Chinese, European, etc… The first slaves in the West Indies were European.

    Associating “blackness” with slavery was a deliberate propaganda exercise carried out by the slave masters anxious to preserve their position. We need to mentally free ourselves from this drivel.

    The purpose of celebrating Emancipation should not be to engage in some victimhood competition coupled with a schizophrenic and racist desire to prosecute a part of ourselves for having enslaved the other. I see no emancipation in that proposition.

    We will be truly emancipated when we have mentally freed ourselves from our historical baggage. We should not forget history. But we should not forget that it is history.

  12. As a non Scientist myself, I too cannot verify one way or the other the validity of the evidence of an objective Guardian journalist such as Lennox Grant. I recognize years ago that columnist and reporters have to also put food on the table and would often sell their moms and sister to the highest bidder if it ensures survival. When I have a beef, I focus a bit more on editors and publishers- but hey this is T&T and it’s nice. I must admit that after I perused his article in its entirety, I saw some merits in the overall premise and direction he was heading. Somewhere along the line one cannot help but believe that the Afro-T&T nationals in particular and our country as a whole are being taken for a ride along the part of the ‘Afro -centric, feel good escapade.’ In normal parlance they are being given ‘a 6 for a 9,’ just like our PM’s old mentor the Dr. did for years against gullible and in -need Afro Trinidadian people ,as he ‘pimped’ them all the way to national power and prominence around 1956 with phony Spiritual Baptist support.
    For the perceptive, there are certain realities that are becoming more self -evident with respect to this our country since it acquired independence. If the country did not have this preponderance of national ethnic holiday celebrations almost every month -like its big brother USA, then it would have undergone a revolution or rather upheavals every month that could have made 1970 and 1990 look like Cuara River lime cook outs in comparison.
    Throughout history it can be noted that when governments and their respective leaders are weak and inept, it is usually reflected in their mediocre domestic policies. In recognition of this, some tend to gravitate towards fancy, lofty, disguised and often tenuous foreign policies to compensate and distract the nation. This PM has learned well at the feet of the original vindictive grandmaster. First he is prepared to give away all our prime ‘VITAL’ assets to the Caribbean ingrates via flimsy treaties and bilateral agreements, and now do the same to the continent where many of the respective leaders are well prepared to trample on the backs of their citizens- with every conceivable Human Rights abuse possible- so as to possibly acquire updates on stolen millions they stashed away in numerous Swiss Bank accounts.
    Unfortunately, this haphazard policy will continue unabated in our beloved country for some time, as long as the suffering masses that make up the both dominant majorities remains uninformed, misguided, and cajoled into the foolish notion that they are each other enemies. In reality, it is a very minute business, political, and intellectual elite that often could care less about the overall welfare and plight of the nation.
    As the politics of distraction prevails, the conscious few must continue to do their part in the interim so as to not only encourage progressives wherever they can be found , but simultaneously be that perennial ‘voice crying in the wilderness’ preparing the way for inevitable change. No need to beat each other up at this juncture, as we only play into the manipulative hands of people’s real enemies.

  13. Ruel makes a very complelling point. I, myself, have never taken part in Indian celebrations in T&T because I have always considered myself a Trinidadian, and have never defined myself by ethnicity. This being said, and having moved to Canada a few years back, I also find myself disliking almost every Indian from the subcontinent (they tend to be unfriendly, arrogant, stuck-up, and feel they better than everyone else) that I have ever met….prompting introspection and great satisfaction that I have never found it necessary to revere my ethnicity.

    I have also had problems with all thse Trinis who feel that parading in Indian-wear and professing their hindu-ness defines who they are. I pity them because they generaly consider themselves Indian first, and Trinis sometime later. Those types look down on most other Trinis, even people like me, who although I may look like them, can’t bring myself to think like them. Most have an unending desire to visit the “motherland” and would be so traumatically hit, if they ever met a true true Indian.

    While I feel this way, I have utmost respect for my ancestors, and what they thought that they had to do to make a better place in the world for themselves. But as far as my respect for Indians go, that’s pretty much it.

    I am just relating my own experience, and am not advocating this opinion for anyone else. I recognize that there are very few historic similaries in the treatment and opportunities between the Indos and Afros in Trinidad, and while I refuse to celebrate my non-Trinidadian heritage (which frankly is not mine), I do respect their right to revere theirs. Happy Emancipation!

  14. Jack wrote:
    “Associating “blackness” with slavery was a deliberate propaganda exercise carried out by the slave masters anxious to preserve their position. We need to mentally free ourselves from this drivel.”

    How about rephrasing that statement, it should read.
    Associating “Slavery” with Blackness was a deliberate propaganda exercise carried out by the slave masters anxious to preserve their position. We need to mentally free ourselves from this drivel.

    Now it make a whole lot of sense.. It seem like a mirror image of the Hindu Caste System to me. And it is through HISTORY we can have a better understanding of our present situation as African people.
    Yes, and we have to further scrutinized the ‘Dutch’ role in implementing this ‘mirror image’ Hindu Caste System here in the Americas. Little is spoken/written of the Dutch East India Company in our ‘mainstream media’ in T&T. That is no coincidence since T&T was the first in an experiment on further marginalizing the African (Ex-Slaves) through the importation of Indians.

    As EUGENE GODFRIED stated in this Clip… Apartheid is a Dutch word.

    And how could they had pulled off their demonization of the African in those times, since Christ was worshiped as Black in most of the churches in Europe.

  15. Unlike those who claim European ancestry, I do not celebrate mine. I know what is in the bloodline, but I ignore it, for fear that some idiot would attribute my intelligence to that bloodline and not to the builders of pyramids, the 8000 year old boat found on the southern(Nigerian) shore of Lake Chad, or the ancient kingdoms of Ghana, Mali and Songhay. I wantto be associated with the Shona people who built Greater Zimbabwe, and not with those who built Stonehenge. We make choices. I have seen too often people who want me to be something other than proudly African. Fat chance! I pour libations at every gathering, proudly, as my ancestors in Trinidad have done, since we got here in 1815, and were free to keep our ways, which were beaten out of other Africans.

    When a friend of mine from another island, saw me to the libation once, she tittered, as if this was a barbaric custom. Her relative, who grew up in Trinidad, in a family of priests, told her, “We always do that in Trinidad.”She shut up. When I gathered the family of a newly married couple in our relatives home in another state, and opened the first bottle of wine, and poured, and prayed, my nephew’s new wife, from another culture, looked startled, but, she was entering a family where the oldest memvber is proud of her African traditions, and she might as well know it at the wedding reception.

    When I met some West African people some years ago, they said “You are Igbo”. I asked how did they know, and it was the wineceremony they saw that told them.

    Now, the Igbo people signal a man’s intention to marry a woman by “taking wine to her father’s house”, a bottle, if he is poor, a case, or a truckload. We in TnT long “knew” that at a wedding, the man provided the drinks. Think there is a connection?
    So, lighter coloured here is not darker European, its is African. get it? Wearing African clothes as I sit in my house, alone, writing is natural for me.
    Of course my professional wardrobe includes European clothes, as well as Indian (both Hindu and Muslim). I also wear ponchos, torquiose beads with silver, and own one Chinese outfit.

  16. Now, Trinidad & Tobago wooing AP farmers

    HYDERABAD: If one thought it is only IT professionals from the state who are in demand overseas, you are mistaken. Now farmers of Andhra Pradesh too are being wooed by foreign governments.

    The government of Trinidad and Tobago has recently sent a proposal to the government of India inviting farmers and corporates to take up farming in their country. The Caribbean government has decided to lease out to Indian farmers seven plots, each measuring 100 acres, for 30 years.

    According to government sources, Indian investors can undertake “investment, development, management and operation of agricultural forms” in the earmarked plots.

    Through the Indian mission in Port of Spain, the Trinidad government wants to reach out to all interested farmers, cooperatives and organisations interested in such ventures.

    Interestingly, Trinidad and Tobago is the latest country to join the club of African countries that have invited Indian farmers and corporates to take up farming on a large scale. But the lack of proper policy to undertake such ventures at the international level has become a stumbling block in sending farmers overseas.

    Now the Union agriculture ministry is looking at Andhra Pradesh to help formulate a policy that would enable India to exploit the virgin lands of these countries to tide over the looming food shortage and spiralling prices in India.

    Even though a proposal to send farmers to African countries was mooted first by Andhra Pradesh in 2004, the idea had to be shelved because of differences within the government.

    While the chief minister’s advisor on agricultural affairs, CC Reddy was for sending farmers to Africa, agriculture minister N Raghuveera Reddy, along with several officials, was sceptical. A team of officials also visited Uganda and Kenya to explore the feasibility of farming in these countries. But the project was ultimately dropped.

    Now, the Centre wrote to AP government to provide guidance in the matter. The state government got a letter from Union agriculture joint secretary Mukesh Khullar in this regard.

    “In view of the increasing pressure of population on agriculture land in India, the recent world-wide food grain shortage and high prices of food grains, the issue needs to be examined with urgency,” Khullar said.

    According to the letter, so far, Uganda, Kenya, Democratic Republic of Congo, along with some smaller countries in Africa requested the Indian government to send farmers to take up farming. Khullar said Brazil also invited some Indian corporates for undertaking sugarcane cultivation along with sugar production.

  17. Ah, T.MAn. Why could not men-(all the other bloggers on this thread )settle for the words I write on issues? For a better “picture” of me, check out my novels in the public library” Coin of Gold, and The Sun, The Snow, The Sea. They are not autobiographical, but contain more that a quarter of a million words, in what some people regard as beautiful English. In a sense, all writing is autobiographical though, since the author creates the characters. Enjoy.

  18. Why are the Arabs-Persians-Spanish not given coverage in Trinidad when it comes to discussing the country?
    Whenever you look at reports or see pictures or even discuss the islands, you never see any information about the 2% Arabs, 2% Persians, and 34% Hispanic population in the island of Trinidad. They seem to forget about prominent Middle Eastern families as Acme of San Fernando and Princess Town, Al jamal family of Princess Town, Aboud of Port-Of-Spain, and a host of others including in the Senate of the Government of Trinidad and Tobago. This is a form of discrimination where an ethnic group seems to take second stage over the dominant East Indian and African population. While we are not the children of slaves, not the children of indentured servants, and not typical of the local population in terms of our names, language, heritage, religion, and even the specific foods of our forefathers and foremothers, we are still a part of the island being born on the island. This is something the government needs to address in the 21st Century and recognize us as being law abiding citizens who have contributed positively to the island and continue, while living overseas to be positive role models or Ambassadors of the island nation of Trinidad.
    Sayyed ‘Abd AL-Mahdi Musawi (Persian-Arab-Nubian Heritage of Trinidad).

  19. Ah ha ! Now we are getting warm , about a real pertinent issue, namely the complicit roles of our greedy savage Arabs brothers in the early enslavement of African people , and the continual exploitations of them where ever they exist even today. I somehow find it comical to see the many Africans that are now quick to adopt this Arab religion with all its attendant deficiencies ,while failing to acknowledge from whence it came, and it subtle role in helping to destroy the continent. North Africans from Morocco to Egyptians, Algerians, and Libyans have always been quick to tout their Arab ancestries over their black Bantu cultures . West Africans like Mali, Senegal, Nigeria, Liberia, and Serra Leon are mostly proud Muslims , but do not try to explain to me why. Somalia, the imitative ,childlike Kenyans, Sudanese, and the wonderful Tanzanians ,were easy convenient targets due to proximity to traders from the Arab peninsular, but unless one is blind , it is clear that the fall out from this religious fantasy have been atrocious .
    Speak to any one from the various countries I have listed today , and you’ll hear about some of the most horrendous exploitative business practices that are being conducted by many of their Arab brothers in the respective countries. Pay close attention to the silence by the disgusting hierarchy of Saudi Arabia to their Sunni bothers and sisters that are suffering in Africa particularly Sudan, where their ethnic and cultural seeds have been sown . Is anyone naïve to think that Libyan kingpin, dictator, and former global terror threat and onetime American enemy Mumammar Quadaffi was only mad at Jews , and Europeans counterparts? No. and if you traverse the history books you can see that he had his so called Arab cousins in his crosshairs as well via all his vitriolic venom.
    Make a turn to any US urban city where black lower class citizens dominate and what do you see? Many lucrative Arab businesses with their usual dangerously substandard and unhealthy foods , and second rate items for sale that are being daily gobbled up by desperate , neglected ,low income former kids of African slavery, many of which have latched on to this phony Muslim religion primarily because of what appears on the surface as a predilection for prison by numerous black males. 90 % of the young black males that goes to prison becomes a Muslim, not because of any deep soul searching conversion like let say Malcolm X , but for survival from prison rapes by angry, frustrated ,lower cast ethnic rival gangs , and white racist skin heads imbeciles. When these clowns return to society , with no skills , or education ,and little job prospects, our black women continues to bear the brunt of the burden because of the stupid fixation of one passage in the Bible that many have learned quite well while serving time . “ Be fruitful and multiply.,” with of course 300 un married naïve young women devoid of guidance themselves due to absentee fathers that went for prison indoctrinations. What a cyclical tragedy of the highest proportion indeed!
    Now to the concerns of cousin Sayyed ‘Abd AL-Mahdi Musawi . I would advise you to quit while you are ahead, as our successive governments have done more than enough for you behind the scenes rabble rousers and yes , trouble makers after all that you and your ilks have subjected this nation to beginning in 1990. Need I say more? Your front man leader embarrassed our nation across the globe, got a phony trial, won countless millions through the gutless conniving British Law Lords , at our expense with astute defense by a former Attorney General and now Deputy Leader.
    Lebanese, Syrians and other Arabs have done quite well from a business angle , and many like the Sabgas and Elias have made useful contributions to our culture and other aspects of our domestic lives I believe, but there is still work to be done . They have paid the piper , and through the years one can be certain have gotten their 30 pieces of political silver from the five political leaders that have ruled our blessed country since Independence .
    My advice to you is to stop forthwith this greedy act of still stretching out your hands to the presently overwhelmed government. Don’t you see we have PM mansion to build, summits to run , Scotland Yard police to pay for security of our nation, and upstart Bajans oil exploration ventures in Tobago to foolishly support to our economic detriment? Where is your nationalism, and sacrificial spirit?
    If you think that your people are neglected , then use some of the million you own and start foundations and grandiose scheme to tout the virtues of your 2% Arabs. Do me a favor and leave 2% Persians aka Shiite out of the discussion for as everyone capable of reading knows, the only place that anyone in the Muslim world seriously care about them is in Iran and Southern Iraq today. Our Police and customs are on alert to begin to finally check their containers as the enter our various ports , to ensure that it’s only fancy bales of cloth that are coming into this gem call Trinidad and Tobago , and not the other dangerous products that some suspects is the root cause of most of our banditry , murders, mayhem and violence across the nations that soon threatens to make Jamaica with its 5000 murders per year , ‘The Garden of Eden,’ when compared to us.

    Don’t worry your pretty head about our 34% Hispanic population . They are happy just the way they are, they have Parang, and many have finally escaped the military buffoon , nutcase Hugo Chavez , Caracas garbage heap . They are primarily grateful for small mercies , for as long as few can pass themselves off as Trini white in good old sweet T&T aka Rainbow country , then they too are happy. They need no celebratory award day advocates, especially by the likes of you. I am not sure if they can be blamed , with a name like yours .I personally feel like sending a SOS to COP Philbert and tell him to arrest you on the spot in the interest of security and all that for our up coming Obama led Heads of State Summit. It sound like an escapee from the now infamous Guantanamo prison, or one of Saddam’s Iraqi Gulags in Abu ghraib .
    Get a new safe colonial sobriquet like Neal Diamond , Heru Gonzales , John Dixon. As the wise lady that grew me up use to affectionately say to me years ago, “A word to the wise is sufficient .” Thanks Granny Socrates.

  20. It’s good to see that philosopy and a touch of class in African History can still stir the well but all in vain. The argument for compensatory measures for Africans based on slavery is mute. Africans are entitled to the same opportunities as every other race. The only slavery the modern African individual has endured is mental slavery. To suggest that they are “somehow” owed is nonsensical on it’s face. In the USA and at home, T&T, it is Africans murdering Africans; is that the fault of the “slave masters?” It “dam right” to say that they are lazy! The 9-5 is the “white-man’s” world not for us,’one drug dealer so proudly announced on a television reality show!

    In Trinidad and Tobago, Africans are killing Africans like flies on honey! History has it’s place, in the annals. If Africans, and I mean the educated ones are offering up the “slavery” argument for the younger Africans, whom by the way have almost no knowledge of their heritage and the slave trade; it’s a disservice to those young people of our nation.

    It’s sad to see after so many centuries, that the slavery vs.poverty is still used in the same sentence! Perhaps all Africans should be required to abstain from education and employment and have the ability to shop, eat, house themselves and their African ancestry be the barcode for daily expenses.

  21. Greetings. The ramblings of “Neal” above prove the level of discrimination that exists on the islands of Trinidad and Tobago regarding people of Middle Eastern background. He alludes to the coup of 1990 when we were away from the island and have nothing to do with a madman who CONVERTED to Islam and gives it a bad name. He alludes again to Arabs as being the ones who supposedly oppress and enslave Africans but does not say anything about our greatest grandfather, the Holy Prophet Muhammad Ibn Abdullah (saww), prophet of Islam who freed slaves as Bilal from the Christian and pagan Arabs at the time, 1429 years ago. He alludes to speak for the Hispanic population as if they matter not!! He continues by separating the 2% Persians and claiming they are Shias when infact, if he did his homework well he would see that most of them are Christians; I am a Shia Mr. Neal-the majority of Persians on the island are Christians and from the Bahai faith having fled Iran. In a country where the motto is “every creed and race finds an equal place” we have fundamentalists like Neal who threaten the very security and peace among the races. It is men like Neal and Abu Bakr who are on the extremes-on far right and the other far left. Either way they are both not good for the country which is trying to achieve peace and stability as it experienced for so long prior to the coup of 1990. Mr. Neal needs to stop his inflammatory remarks and calm down realizing that we have contributed positively to the islands in business, politics, and other professions. We have created jobs; did Mr. Neal create a job in Trinidad? We have paid our taxes, we have been loyal and faithful to the Constitution and nation of Trinidad; has Mr. Neal been faithful and loyal to the country? We have worked with Mr. Lloyd Best and others as Michael Als, Vincent Cabera, Dr. James Millette, obtained scholarships for Universities, gained our degrees and Masters degrees too, and are in positions certainly not what Mr. Neal seems to be labeling us of being. Mr. Neal needs to understand that there is no dictatorship on the island and he is free to join the dictatorship of Basdeo Panday or some other lunatic like Abu Bakr but this is not the path for us. We are the children Mr. Neal who have fled persecution (on our Persian side), left for business opportunities (on our Arab side) and have contributed without a doubt positively to Trinidad. We have neither been involved in nor contributed to any disruption of democracy or stability on the island. Stop abusing our religion and for those who wish to conveniently convert to our Religion and defame it; stay in your own Religion it is better for you.
    Sayyed ‘Abd AL-Mahdi Musawi, B.A., M.Ed.

  22. Ever so often a wonderful and refreshing blog comes to the fore led by a passionate national , that makes you realize why you adore this country of ours so much , and desperately hope to see it reach it’s full long term potential. Thanks cousin Sayyed Abd AL -Mahdi Musawi. Obviously, much apologies are in order if as you’ve claimed I got some of my fact mixed up ,and has therefore hurt some of the sensibilities of our many hard working ,and dedicated Persian and Arab fellow patriotic nationals with my broad brush generalizations.
    Now mind you , I am not apologizing for my forthrightness as I am not one who needs the likes of our ungrateful, international, Nobel Prize national hero V.S Naipaul the Muslim basher , or Western Europeans nostalgic Crusaders to develop my own forceful opinions of Arabs, Turks, Persians and other top Middle Eastern players. I stand by every view I made about them sleeping at the wheel when it comes to the plight today of their suffering African Bantu mainly Christian brothers in Africa, so please refrain from telling me what the Prophet Mohammed did for a token few back in 201 BC .
    I fully accept your strong response in clearing the air re the Abu Backr debacle in 1990, and welcome your public denunciation of him and his group for all they stood for. That I believe makes two of us on this blog, for many believe that we should let ‘sleeping dogs lie,’ and pretend that 1990 never occurred . I beg to differ . Justice demands, it. The dignity of a people , and disgraced leader from a small insignificant island -that gave his entire life for our Twin Republic -warrants answers. You know fully well what can be one of the terrible fall out from humiliations of a people , via denigration of their leaders eh Sayyed? The Middle East and the entire Islamic world are suffering the after effects of it in a Post Cold War era. Some call it global terrorism.
    Now on to the real deal cousin Sayyed. Are you prepared to ‘put your money where your mouth is today,’ and demand from our Government and Opposition that they push for a comprehensive Commission of Enquiry so that we the concern nation can get to the heart of the issue as to who were involved in the devastating atrocities that took place by my former Police brother Abu the Muslim wannabe , and his band of tugs? They I am sure would listen to you , correct? In so doing , rambling, discrimination idiots like myself won’t continue to make foolish aspersions as claimed.
    For the record ,it might surprise you that Neal the alleged right / left wing fundamentalists, is a full believer in the excellent ideals of our motto which strives in theory to see that “every creed and race finds an equal place.” It is just that I also wish to see it manifested in a tangible way not only for the benefit of business , and political minorities along with their cronies and families, but the vast neglected majorities of our 1.3 million that often some either naively , or disingenuously ,want to believe are sill doing fine in the land where an arrogant neo colonialist once claimed that “money is no problem, ” even while most of his party’s supporters were without basic in fractures that folks in Jordan, Syria, Iran , Iraq ,Lebanon , Gaza, and Kuwait took for granted.

    So you “worked with Mr. Lloyd Best and others as Michael Als, Vincent Cabera, Dr. James Millette, obtained scholarships for Universities, gained our degrees and Masters degrees too,” huh? This is 2009 cousin Sayyed , time to ‘throw a bone,’ for some after school programs in John , John ,Upper St Babbs Gonzales, and the snotty nose kids around the Beetham Highway that dives in the black Mang ravine water for hairy unpalatable crabs daily.
    Last time I checked the Cancer Society was about to close down due to lack of funds. Just one Lexus vehicle less , another private Yacht ,or fewer thousands in spending money for that elite yuppie kid of yours in Harvard , Princeton , or NYU , and a Foundation here or there in Sweet T&T aka Rainbow Country , can be put in place to halt recidivism , or go for research at UWI so that they can finally try and find a cure for Cancer with some of our great local untapped herbs . What do you think? I am not sure if anyone in the country under 25 knows who Lloyd Best the intellectual economist was, so time to update the list . How about the
    Hey a Janet Jackson sighting , I somehow forgot what a fine performer she could be . Sing my black Socrates princess. You can tap your feet cousin Sayyed. Music and art in general , can be such good therapy . Not forgetting it can placed a dent on our unemployment rate as well.


    There are a few words that I have often in the past used to describe most of our local business class cousin Sayyed, and its “ greedy , selfish ,blood sucking ,leeches.” Of course , starting today I am prepared to constrain myself , in recognition that there are always exceptions to the rule.

  23. Neal,
    the prophet Mohammed, Peace Be Unto Him, lived in the seventh Century of the Christian Era. not 210 BC. Children who are computer literate may read these comments, and get their “Facts” wrong. Runnng before the moderator people x me out.

  24. If you keep this up Ms. L I might soon be forced to apologize for Europeans crucifying our black Jesus on the cross.
    We won’t let a bit of spurious facts get in the way of the real truth correct? This to reiterate ,is that Arabs , together with close Persian and Turkish neighboring tribal rivals , that dominated this conquest religion , can be some of the most selfish , and uncaring folks in the world, and often suffer from selective political / historical amnesia when it comes to their own atrocities to others , but tend to repeatedly cry out like 400 heavenly Muslim virgins in their quest for sympathy from unleashed venom at the hands ,or behest of North Americans , Europeans , and any similar regional over glorified ally they’ll all enjoy sending back to the stone age for all their so call love for mankind.
    Some might say that you should put down the encyclopedia a bit when it come to this Prophet Mohammed guy ,for if our alleged Iranian ,Christian ,B.A., M.Ed cousin .Sayyed ‘Abd AL-Mahdi Musawi, is ok with it ,as well as the other 1,100 local Islamic Imams , then so should you. As for children that still reads and are computer literate, the only thing this MTV generation cares about is where Britney is going to put her next tattoo , when next the ugly ego inflated Paris Hilton would flash for a camera, can Beyonce learn how to get pregnant before she turns 50 , or which state and it’s desperate teen age groupies can Kobe Bryant screw over next as he becomes bored with his young wife?
    Now tell me , do you think Sayyed and other closet country haters , would loose much sleep if I was to inadvertently say that our sharp eyed Historian friend Madame L was the last batch of ‘Trinidad and Tobago Shango Baptist local students,’ to get a free foreign Scholarship from the late Eric Williams who upon completion of study , joined the long line of ungrateful educated national luminaries to disappear into obscurity , are too busy trying to maintain the Trinidadian penchant of being global saviors ,that is yet to repay the country for it’s initial efforts and huge sacrifice ?
    One can only be optimistic that ‘dog did not eat any conscience’ of nationals so labeled ,for if this is the case , it is sad to watch, as our country sink daily down to the bottomless pit due to the fact that too many borderline illiterate, and inept ,‘square pegs’ are firmly fixated in ‘round holes’ – in essence ,positions of power and trust that they obviously have no right to be in . Happy Emancipation indeed.

Comments are closed.