Lee Sing: Afro-Trinis dying over URP crumbs

Thursday, July 31st 2008

EmancipationThe people who could have potentially been leaders of local African communities have failed Afro-Trinidadians and Tobagonians, says National Lotteries Control Board (NLCB) chairman and radio station owner Louis Lee Sing.

“This group of successful Afro-Trinbagonian(s) see themselves as Trinidadians and nothing else. The plight of the less fortunate of his race do not matter,” he commented.

Delivering an address to the Eastern Emancipation Cultural Committee, Sangre Grande, on Tuesday, Lee Sing said the country’s African leaders have been killed one by one over the last few months, referring to the 20 “community leaders” who attempted to broker a so-called peace treaty in 2006.
Full Article : trinidadexpress.com

15 Responses to “Lee Sing: Afro-Trinis dying over URP crumbs”

  • The African community in T&T prefers the psychological comfort of having “their” government (PNM) in power, rather than programs to improve and enhance their quality of life.
    The Indian community is no better,clamouring for power under the UNC.
    The result is continued stagnation and more phoney “dress up” exercises.

  • Louis Lee Sing’s remarks has to be taken in the context of his previous non-support of informed Africans sharing their perspectives in the mainstream media. So although he pounds unnamed African leaders for “their “absolute silence” on fundamental issues affecting Afro-Trinbagonians”, he is partly to blame for the present lack of informed African perspectives in the media.

    For more, see Why ‘Dialogue’ was taken off the Radio:

    “We continued to question the absence of African programs on the state media until one day, Mr. Louis Lee Sing, the then CEO of the state media, responded. He said, in short, that the state media allocated space for Indian programs because these programs were being sponsored and if Africans programs could be sponsored they had no problem in carrying them.

    I did not believe him, but what he said would have been difficult to disprove so we had to put his explanation to the test.

    Mr. Louis Lee Sing subsequently left the state media and became part owner of another private radio station, Power 102FM. About a year later when I questioned him, live on air, about the absence of African programs on that station, he replied that such programs would bring this country to another Bosnia and Sarajevo. (This spoke volumes about his earlier response).”


  • Afro- Trinis have to do for themselves without comparing themseleves ot other groups. No one else can walk in their shoes nor they in the shoes of others. If Trinidad were ever to fall, where would the Afro Trini go without resources? We know where the others would go because they never left. It’s sad to know that TNT is not one nation but several different minority nations existing with bias on a former British colony

  • In our dialogue we should not loose sight of the meaning of what Mr. Lee Sing is saying. Individually, we have had extremely great Afro-Trinidadians in all sectors of commerce, law, government, medicine, education and law enforcement. If we compile those names to show what tremendous contributions they have made to the society there will be no doubts about their contributions to nationhood. On the flip side of the equation; if we indulge in supposing what could have been the result, if these men and women had become heavily involved in the cause of indoctrinating and mentoring the less fortunate in their chosen profession, like Audrey Jeffers did, we would not have been in the situation we are in today with our young people. Take for example in the field of lawif people like Hudson-Phillips, Ellis Clarke, Martineau and people of that calibre we to extend a couple of hours of their valuable time FREE to the children of the Laventille community (interested in law but needs guidance)to just have the opportunity to be mentored (just with words of advice) by these men what a great achievement that would be. It is a waste of time to criticise Mr. Lee Sing, let his words of advice ring loud and clear throughout the African communities.

  • If its Emancipation Week, it must be “beat up on them ” time by people who do not know their arse from their elbow, on the issues facing the poor Afro-Trin communities. Mr.Lee Sing should ask himself, since his people came here to replace the freed Africans, how come that small few have reached “The Commanding Heights of The Economy”, and thus, an authority on matters Afro-Trini.

    Who has ever done a thorough study of what it means to be poor, Afro-Trini and city based, in our country? Young Afro-trinis in country areas are not into the Laventille Syndrome- no one hires then to rub out anybody, nor even threatens to hire them to rub out anyone, as recent principal of an elementary school alledgedly threatened.

    Are they poor and backward for the same reasn that Haiti is? That the powers that arew ant them where they are? Where else will Port of Spain find its cadre of loaders, barrow pushers and small time vendors if everyone’s standard of living was raised?Laventille has been replenished these hundred years with immigrans from the other islands, who first move into Sea Lots, nd then into the hills.
    Structural Poerty is designed to be what it is. It’s documentable all over the world. It Trinidad, it happens to be Afro-Trinis in the city environs. In other places, its other types of people.There are thousands of young men who do not fall into this syndrome. why does not Mr. Lee Sing start an anti-poerty program in The Hills?

    Light a candle, sir. Its easier to curse the darkness.

  • What amazes me is that ‘we’ speak as if Africans in Trinbago are a minority group as African in the USA (maybe it’s part of the ‘Americanism’ of the society) and this government has no responsibility to “it’s” constituents.
    Then again, maybe we are not looking at the bigger picture and seeing that it is a battle for land. We thrive on becoming another Miami… But do we know the history of Miami told by the Africans who established it? They inhabited the beaches from Ft. Lauderdale to Miami and were later systemically evicted to make way for ‘progress’. Point is, Laventille is the most valuable piece of real-estate in T&T, is it their time to make way for ‘progress’?

  • Laventille: the way up
    March 02, 2005
    By Bukka Rennie

    Finally someone possessed the vision to see it clearly and the guts to say it boldly. One Lloyd Cartar of Port-ofSpain, in a letter titled “Laventille Hilla gold mine,” had the following, inter alia, to say:

    “Laventille Hill, that picturesque spine running from Belmont to the edges of Sea Lots, is today the most valuable tract of real estate in T&T, and its residents stand to make tens of millions of dollars if they manage their properties with wisdom and acumen.

    “The reasons for their new bonanza status are simple: Port-of-Spain has nowhere else to go or grow; and the Hill is extremely convenient in terms of access and availability, being already inhabited from bases to ridge.

    “Another major plus is the abundance of blue stone, or granite, in its make-up. This would make for sound foundation…

    “But without a single doubt, the people on the Hill are potential millionaires who merely need to organise their business to tap into the mother lode at their feet…

    “Go for it, Laventille! You have everything to gain and nothing to lose”.

    Now, I do not know this Lloyd Cartar. I can recall though a similar name that was associated with the Guardian Special Correspondent of the past, someone with whom I could never agree in ideological terms.

    I cannot say whether the two Lloyds are one and the same. However those words that I have quoted above are words with which I concur 100 per cent.

    I had developed the view that Laventille is the best kept secret in T&T ever since some 30 plus years ago I happened to walk into the office of a certain town planner at IDC (Industrial Development Corporation) and saw on this huge table a miniature replica of the Urban Renewal Development Project that was geared to expand the city of Port-of-Spain, eastward, all the way back to Lady Young Road.

    The driving logic behind the project, as explained to me then and with which I could find no flaw, was that the development of the Hill over the years had been so unplanned and haphazard that at this point it had become physically impossible to implement or introduce any forms of modern infrastructure without first having to take everything down and starting over from scratch to properly lay out the place.

    Given my perspective I remember warning against undue haste, urging the planner to take the people of Laventille into his confidence, to have them involved in the entire process from conceptualisation to implementation, and that the only urgency was confidence building, earning their trust, rather than speed.

    The very first phase of that project was the expansion of the Old St Joseph Road, the erecting of the Riverside Plaza and the craft shops and small factories at the eastern side of the plaza.

    The people displaced in this phase were placed into some long wooden barrack-type “decanting centres” higher up John-John to await the erecting of modern, high-rise apartment buildings.

    Those decanting centres virtually became permanent run-down, infested residential ghettoes. Nothing happened beyond the first phase. Economic downturn, stagnation and IMF-promoted structural adjustments of the ’80s took a serious toll on Laventille.

    The pace of upward mobility and social turn-around that came to be associated with Laventille of the ’60s and early ’70s slowed significantly and Laventille found itself bursting at the seams just as the underground drug economy began to take firm root.

    Yes, its development was unplanned and haphazard but one must understand the genesis of Laventille and John-John.

    The slaves, who had rejected the proposal of a six-year apprenticeship period on the sugar plantations after emancipation, came into Port-of-Spain shouting “Pas de six ans! Pas de six ans!” and did not go back to the estates but chose to settle on the Hill because of its proximity to the city and its greater employment possibilities.

    Modern T&T inherited that and continued to go ahead with the parameters of such an unplanned settlement. Should Laventille continue to allow itself to suffer the ignominy of painted water tanks for tourist attraction and soup kitchens?

    Rather than deal with the need to consult Laventille people, the private developers and the State have chosen to go west, to them the line of least resistance. One wonders how they hope to house the FTAA and the ACS and not deal with Laventille?

    When Munroe put up the Calypso Mecca Tent down on the western foreshore, there was a hue and cry from the middle-class environmentalists who protested on the grounds of the fragility of the eco-system down there. Now their kith and kin have established a five-star hotel, Movie-Towne and shopping centres down there, not a squeak is to be heard from the environmentalists.

    But the western peninsula is saturated. Jump high, jump low they have to face the Laventille reality. The people on the Hill must seize the initiative to have the Hill mapped and a development consortium formed to negotiate partnerships with the State and private developers.

    They must organise themselves to have a say and be the socio-economic consultants to the expansion of Port-of-Spain project.

    A significant portion of the 88,000 hectares of Caroni’s lands are about to be given to inhabitants of Caroni for their future development, so they will be in the forefront of the re-configuration of Caroni.

    So what about you the people of Laventille? The time to act is now! Stop the crying and moaning and be the subjects of your own destiny. The moment hope for a new day is apparent, the wanton killings will cease.


  • Linda, Who are Lee Sing’s people?
    He is probably more African than Chinese!

  • Ms L, in case you you didn’t know Mr Lee Sing is of mixed parentage. From your comments you seem to assume by his name he is Chinese. It is convenient when mixed people take one side, everyone will point to their “africaness” but when they are opposed to that side, people disown them.

  • Ah, yes, me and my mixed blood. I go by what people write. You are either in a group or out of it. This, despite blue eyed genes and red hair, and my sister’s death certificate in Atlanta rferring to her as Scotts-Irish, she being a full blooded sister. Mr. Lee Sing, having written the oolumn, should be allowed to answer for himself. I have no doubt that mixed blood people pick their side and stay there. As a former commander of the Coast Guard once said to me, in sexual jest” I mixed with Chinese, but I am African from the waist down”. I never checked out Mr. Williams credentials. But seriously, if Mr.Lee Sing identified with the abject poverty in which some people live and work and have no being, and die, he would not have written what he wrote.
    So I am not impressed with those who want to tell me what his origins really are. If his Chinese parent contributed only his name, he still gave him a leg up, in our constant escape from blackness. So, please do not talk nonsense to me. I am too old for that.Sometimes some people act s authorities when they know nothing of poverty or suffering, and the media lorifie what they say.

  • Spot on Ram, you are indeed up to date with your history, perhaps even better than some of us victims – especially when it comes to land disparities. I can sense that yourself and many others believe that the many illiterate, degenerate, ungrateful, emancipated slaves, were foolish not to take up the noble ‘six- year apprenticeship’ proposal that you alluded to. You also seem befuddled that they did not run back to the estates that were now taken over by indentured laborers. I wonder how many of your then desperate ancestors would have sailed the ships from India if more attractive deals were not presented by the crooked Brits. We did not have the Jim Crow/ 30 aches and a mule problem like our African American cousins in the USA, but I wondered how the powers that be reacted to such a sudden lost of manpower? So many glorious books and studies are done about the plight of the poor indentured laborers, perhaps its time for some of these UWI Social Science Professors and students stop researching and writing about the usual inconsequential nonsense they dribble about with tax payers money, and start to address this and similar urgent issues as an matter of urgent national security interest.
    Let me make my position absolutely clear with respect to you are this so called ‘Lloyd Cartar of Port-of Spain,’ diatribe that you conveniently extracted. To suggest that the families of predominantly African people that settled on Lavantille should be proud of their present real estates which devoid of any meaningful infrastructure, and replete with crimes and others social ills, and it’s somehow their own fault to not recognize and capitalize on such blessing that both you and this Lloyd Carter characters alluded to, speaks volumes of you as a human being and as a national of our country – if you really are. At the same that. I can also envision the lascivious grin on your face, as you make the your absolutely outlandish suggestion under this disguise, as you applaud a certain former Caroni Limited Trade Union leader /com political Opposition iconic figure, for striving to see that every piece of choice national plantation real estate goes directly and only to East Indian inhabitants between Berbice Guyana, Toronto, St James and Couva. How selfish, greedy, and thoughtless is all I can say. If our country was not such a thriving democracy, I’ll personally push and support the passage of a Bill that ensures that anyone that dare to make comments and suggestion such as yours, be skinned alive and placed on a stake in front of Woodford square for the world to see. Forget the many poor and neglected Afro- Trinidadian parents that live in these areas for a moment- as you obviously care very little, but what about the long term future welfare of the children that are subjected to this lunacy? Do you believe that they should wait another 100 years while the politicians determine what plan is more feasible for the development of the local Brazil- like Favelas? Do you and your ilk across our nation can continue to hide your heads in the sand like the common proverbial Ostrich and wish the problem away? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Favela http://www.travel-images.com/photo-brazil150.html

    On a second note, it is amazing to me that people are on this board lamenting about Mr. Lee Sing’s real heritage- is African enough or Chinese – as if it really matters. His exact words were that “The people who could have potentially been leaders of local African communities have failed Afro-Trinidadians and Tobagonians…” as they “see themselves as Trinidadians and nothing else,” and that “the plight of the less fortunate of his race do not matter.” In essence, by not becoming sectarian, partisan, and clannish African leaders these educated elites have promoted others ahead of their own, much unlike other leaders of other races in our beloved country. That is all he is saying whether correct or not. Now, as to the question of what benefits would have accrued to the nation as a whole if such a policy was adopted since 1962, well, that’s a totally different matter, that needs more than just emotional knee jerked comments and analysis. It however matters little, as these same leaders are now in a what is commonly called a ‘Catch 22 Situation’, in that today they are both condemned for neglecting their own people, and simultaneously vilified for practicing racist, and discriminatory policies against other alleged victims,simply because a misguided few still holds what they assume to be real political power in the country. What a travesty in for our young Republic.

  • Neal, don’t bother with dem darn pills they give you man.. We have to go back to the future.
    One of the more LIBERATING articles of the week…

    “In defencE of bush baths.
    Recently Magistrate Andre Stroude recommended to a drug addict that he should take a bush bath to assist him with coming off the habit.

    The reaction that I have gleaned from people who read the story fell into the same genre whenever this “taboo” subject is spoken of.

    The attitude is generally dismissive, scornful, derogatory or, worse, it being ranked in the realm of obeah, whatever that is.

    The bush bath has occupied a very prominent position in our rich folklore culture even though it is a fact of Trini life and is indulged in by, you may be surprised, a very wide cross section of the national community.

    In spite of the bad-mouthing of this bath by the ignorant and religiously biased, it is by no means a “low class” thing.

    More on that later. ”


    The Ifa Corpus

    Bukka Rennie is one of “OUR” great writers Neal.. Trinicenter took the time to archive his work. you must try reading him sometime.

    Have a nice weekend my brother…. Ram Ram!

  • Hi Ram, I must hand it to you, good work on your part this intuitive ability. Can you believe I thought I was smart enough to disguise it? I’ll admit this however, for me writing is the therapy. I am firmly against all drugs – it’s that old solid Christian foundation we chatted about the past few days. The fact is that absolutely nothing, we say on these forum can or will change a thing in our beloved country; it is the people on the ground that must decide the direction they want to go. We should continue to keep the flag flying as we express our love, hope and best wishes to the country- as they’ll certainly need it. Here are a few thought provoking quotes you might enjoy.
    Keep writing.

    George Bernard Shaw
    A government that robs Peter to pay Paul can always depend on the support of Paul.

    . It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.

    Poverty is the parent of revolution and crime.
    BC 384-322, Greek Philosopher

  • What is happening in Laventille has very little to do with people’s “blackness” and a lot to do with their economic conditions. All over the world “white” people in similar circumstances face the same problems.

    To suggest that “successful Afro-Trinbagonians” have more of a duty of care towards those of the disposessed who happen to share some physical traits with them is racist, and implicitly exonerates other successful Trinbagonians from their responsibilities.

  • What is happening in Laventille has very little to do with people’s “blackness” and a lot to do with their economic conditions. All over the world “white” people in similar circumstances face the same problems.

    To suggest that “successful Afro-Trinbagonians” have more of a duty of care towards those of the disposessed who happen to share some physical traits with them is racist, and implicitly exonerates other successful Trinbagonians from their responsibilities.

    Where are you now Jack?

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