Dr. Williams as a Man of Culture

By Dr. Selwyn R. Cudjoe
October 06, 2011

If I turn into earth, water, grass,
Flower or fruit-if it comes to pass
I return to Earth in the animal class,
Why in the world should I care?
In the limitless bond wherever I pass,
A kinship is ever there.

Rabindranath Tagore, Of Myself

Dr. Selwyn R. CudjoeA few things before I start. First, although my original paper is 27 pages long in conformity with the instructions given, I have had to cut my paper down to fifteen pages so that you will forgive me if there are gaps in my presentation. Second, the title of my paper is taken from an essay that Dr. Williams offered at the Second Congress of Negro Writers and Artists that was held in Rome from March 26 to April 1, 1959, entitled “The Political Leader Considered as a Man of Culture.” Third. Although my original paper examines the former article and “Four Poets of the Greater Antilles,” I will look at Dr. William’s relationship to literature and his essays on Mahatma Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru and Rabindranth Tagore, with an emphasis upon the latter. In the process, I would like to expand upon the Professor Rampersad’s observation that Dr. Williams, a man of letters, was “comfortable with literature, capable of invoking the words of Shakespeare and Dante and showing a greater familiarity with their works and the work of other eminent writers than one finds using the index to Bartlett’s Quotations.” In the process I also hope to put a dent into the silly allegation that Dr. Williams was a racist who did not like people of Indian descent.

Dr. Williams, one of the most brilliant scholars of colonial reality, did not only feel comfortable with literature, he also used literature and the arts to organize and express his truths. Moreover, when we turn to the major religious/philosophical influences on Dr. Williams’ life, one ought to look no further than his exposition on the works of Rabindranath Tagore, the great Bengali poet and author, to get a better sense of who Dr. Williams was — an entrée into his philosophical and religious thinking. This fact is lost upon many who see only the outer dimension of the man rather than his resilience, his beliefs, and his understanding of the world.

Dr. Williams’s admiration of Tagore came from his deep appreciation of literature and art “as sources for the understanding and appraisal of historical development” as he observed in Inward Hunger, his autobiography. He subscribed fully to Tagore’s conviction: “In a literary work the author’s purer being reveals itself unconsciously; the work thereby is a purer thing. That is why I go to poetry and drama for evidence.” He loved Tagore, primarily a poet, who on his seventieth birthday could say of his vocation: “Now I have followed this long orbit of life I can take a look at the circle in its entirety at the hour of farewell, and I understand that I have only one identity, and it is this: I am simply a poet.” It is this love and appreciation of Tagore’s work that Dr. Williams sought to express when he delivered his lecture on Tagore at Queen’s Hall, Port of Spain, Trinidad, on May 6, 1961, at the invitation of India’s high commissioner.

THE POLITICAL LEADER AS A MAN OF CULTURE

In April 1959, Dr. Williams used the Second Congress of Negro Writers and Artists to expand upon his views about the role of culture in the liberation process. In “The Political Leader Considered as a Man of Culture,” Dr. Williams elaborated upon an observation that Alioune Diop, editor of Presence Africaine, made at the First International Congress of Negro Writers and Artists held in Paris in 1956 when he said: “There is no people without culture. But we often lose sight of the natural bond … between politics and culture. It is the State that guarantees a culture, the memory of its traditions, and a sense of its personality. A community deprived of political liberty has great difficulty in creating the image of its past.” Although Dr. Williams drew upon the Ancient Greeks to set up his argument, he was convinced that Diop was only “seeking to translate to the African struggle what has already been established on the Indian field of battle. For it is modern India which most clearly demonstrates the natural tie between politics and culture as symbolized by Gandhi and Nehru.” He noted that Gandhi, in his struggle to free India from colonial rule, emphasized the importance of a national culture when Gandhi said, “I must cling to my mother-tongue as to my mother’s breast, in spite of its shortcomings. It alone can give me the life-giving milk. I love the English tongue in its own place, but I am its inveterate opponent, if it usurps a place which does not belong to it.” This does not mean that the movement towards the adoption of a national culture was made any easier by the several languages that were spoken in India. It only means that one could not cultivate a national culture if one did not give precedence to the language of one’s people.

If European colonization implied a displacement of local languages and cultures, independence demanded its reversal: that is, an emphasis on local languages and culture. In this context, Dr. Williams also quoted Kwame Nkrumah, Prime Minister of Ghana, who observed:

We must work a greater glory and majesty, greater than the civilization of our grandfathers, the civilization of Ghana, the civilization of the Mali Empire and the civilization of the Songhay Empire. Long before the slave trade, long before imperialist rivalries in Africa began, civilizations of the Ghana Empire were in existence. And here, you even discover that at one time, at the great University of Timbuctoo, Africans versed in the science of and learning were studying their works translated [from Latin] in Greek and Hebrew, and at the same time exchanging professors with the University of Cordoba in Spain. These were the brains, and today they come and tell us that we cannot do it.

Culture, as Dr. Williams observed, and the Congress emphasized, was not an embellishment. It was a way of thinking about one’s society and an integral part of the nationalist struggle for independence.

Dr. Williams believed culture had an important role to play in welding the society together. This could not be achieved if the people’s culture was not at the vanguard of the nationalist movement and the educational system was not rooted in the national culture. This is why he affirmed that “the struggle for the national culture today is not only a part of the struggle for political independence but also the struggle for building a new social order as well.” Therefore, when the people of Trinidad and Tobago started their quest for national independence, Dr. Williams saw the practice of culture as integral to the construction of the new society. He offered his analysis against a background of the tendency of the colonizing powers to privilege their culture and languages over local languages and culture which led leaders of newly independent states, both in India and Africa, to insist on the revitalization of their indigenous cultures and languages as central ingredients in the construction of these new states. This still remains the challenge of postcolonial nationhood.

GANDHI & NEHRU

Dr. Williams’ lecture on Gandhi in October 1959 allowed him another opportunity to elaborate on the role that culture plays in developing societies and to continue the discussion he began in Presence Africaine. Even before Dr. Williams’ conference paper, Gandhi was venerated by the people of Trinidad and Tobago. Both C. L. R. James and Beatrice Greg, an English woman living in Trinidad, had alerted the public to Gandhi’s accomplishments in the Beacon in 1931 and 1932. Dr. Williams reminded his listeners that Gandhi, “one of the most gifted human beings who has ever lived,” centered his work around the Indian peasant “by whose progress and emancipation from misery and poverty the standard of Indian civilization was to be judged” (The Birth of Dr. Williams, 46). He emphasized Gandhi’s role in education and the social sciences and noted: “The history of Indian national awakening combined with a living appreciation of India’s struggle for social, political and economic freedom should prepare the pupils to bear their share of the burden joyfully and to stand the strain and stress of the period of transition” (The Birth of Dr. Williams, 48).

Dr. Williams also pointed out the lessons that Gandhi’s life had for the citizens of Trinidad and Tobago. He noted: “The traditions against which he fought in South Africa and developed his capacities were in some respects very similar to those which existed in the Trinidad of the time. Gandhi’s relations with the Indians and the Africans in South Africa should form a chapter of his history which should not only be of interest but of profit to all of us at this particular time.” (The Birth of Dr. Williams, 51) He ended his lecture by highlighting Gandhi’s method of passive resistance and “the highly spiritual quality of his personal life… To acquaint ourselves with it [his life], to whatever degree, can only lead to the enrichment of our own. ” (The Birth of Dr. Williams, 52-3)

Dr. Williams felt closer to Nehru politically than he did to Gandhi in spite of Gandhi’s spiritual qualities and the tremendous contribution he made to revolutionary theory and practice in the twentieth century. While Gandhi played down the importance of academic learning and attempted to spiritualize poverty, Nehru was more politically inclined and was determined to reduce poverty through scientific methods. Tagore also “thought little of Gandhi’s alternative economics, and found reason to celebrate, with a few qualifications, the liberating role of modern technology in reducing human drudgery as well as poverty.” It helped that Nehru, an amateur historian, was the leader of a nationalist movement who had a close attachment to his people. Like Dr. Williams, he became “alive before a large audience; his speeches, whether in Hindi or English, were always clear, direct, easily understood if somewhat lecturing. The communists’ nickname for him was ‘the Professor.'” Trinbagonians called Dr. Williams fondly, “the doc.” Although Dr. Williams compared Gandhi’s accomplishments with those of Marx and others “in the sense that he discovered and invented a new method of political struggle, carried it through successfully over a vast area of human activities and has left it as a heritage which has been studied and followed in areas as far apart as Ghana and Montgomery, Alabama” (The Birth of Dr. Williams, 52), Williams’ ideas and ideals of national independence were closer to those of Nehru than they were to Gandhi.

As a historian, Dr. Williams appreciated Nehru’s “analysis on Britain’s imperialism in India” (The Birth of Dr. Williams, 13). One may remember that Dr. Williams did a similar thing for British capitalism in the Caribbean. He also restated Nehru’s contention that British imperialism led to “the total destruction of Indian community life and community values” (The Birth of Dr. Williams, 14) which led, subsequently, to the pauperism of Indian peasants that sent millions of them to Burma, Malaya, to Sri Lanka, Kenya, South Africa, Guyana, and Trinidad and Tobago. This exploitation led to the “demoralization and sapping of the spirit of the people” (The Birth of Dr. Williams, 18-19); hence the goal of the independence movement was to restore that dignity to the Indian people.

Dr. Williams appreciated Nehru’s masterful writing of history. Glimpses of World History, written while Nehru was in prison, revealed Nehru’s “vision of human progress, advancing through periods of inhumanity and suffering but teleologically moving onward towards better lives for the world’s ordinary people. … There is great praise for the Indian epics, the Ramayana and the Mahabharata (in particular the Bhagavad Gita), but as works of literature rather than as sacred texts. ” Dr. Williams calls Glimpses of World History “a classic in the literature of intellectual decolonization” that places “the history of India in true perspective” (The Birth of Dr. Williams, 20-22) and his description of the Dravidian civilization one of the finest chapters of his work. India’s cultural unity comes in for special praise even as its caste system, “the enemy of every kind of progress” (The Birth of Dr. Williams, 24), is condemned. No progressive leader-Tagore, Gandhi, or Nehru-could be silent about its debilitating effect on the progress of India.

Dr. Williams was inspired by Nehru’s internationalist perspective. Speaking of the new creative spirit that was being reborn in India, Dr. Williams says of Nehru: “[He was] internationalist because he was nationalist, just as he was the champion of all colonial peoples because he was an Indian colonial, Nehru, with the universal vision of a Walt Whitman or a Victor Hugo” (The Birth of Dr. Williams, 27). In 1932, as Nehru compared India’s struggle for freedom against Europe’s dominance and authoritarianism, he could declared in confidence: “So while we struggle for the freedom of India, we must remember that the great aim in human freedom, which includes the freedom of our people as well as other peoples'” (The Birth of Dr. Williams, 27). Dr. Williams could invoke Whitman to demonstrate how these literary personalities assisted in the construction of his vision.

From these essays one gets the impression that Dr. Williams felt a certain anxiety about his role as historian and nationalist leader, trying as he did, to locate himself and his activities within the decolonizing process and seeking to understand his place as a colonial intellectual and historian with the larger international process. In Nehru, Dr. Williams saw “a man who was at one and the same time a national symbol, a philosopher of anti-colonialism and a student of world history” (The Birth of Dr. Williams, 42) whose task it was to build up “that inner strength of the people that we were after, knowing that the rest would inevitably follow. We had to wipe out some generations of shameful subservience and timid submission to an arrogant alien authority.” (The Birth of Dr. Williams, 28) Dr. Williams might have uttered these words. He said as much when he declared in his time and space: “Massa Day Done.” Each man believed that greatness was thrust upon him.

Dr. Williams identified with Nehru’s legacy in a meaningful way. He concluded his lecture in the following manner: “India today would not be what it is if India had not achieved independence and if Nehru had not been there for forty years to learn and to teach, to guide and be guided, to inspire and be inspired, to aspire and to achieve. He stands out as one of the greatest champions of freedom for all times” (The Birth of Dr. Williams, 43). Interestingly enough, the national motto, “Together we aspire; together we achieve,” is inscribed on the Coat of Arms of Trinidad and Tobago. It is tempting to think that Nehru’s influence might have been essential in the coining of the national motto of Trinidad and Tobago.

RABINDRANATH TAGORE

Dr. Williams admired Gandhi and was inspired by Nehru’s political achievements, but it was Tagore in whom he found a measure of spiritual guidance and a canvas upon which to reflect upon his humanity. Unlike Gandhi and Nehru, Tagore was still in vogue during Dr. Williams’ adolescent years, his having been awarded the Nobel Prize in literature in 1913 and a towering international figure during the first twenty-five years of the twentieth century. It helped also that Tagore’s “outlook was persistently nonsectarian, and his writings — some two hundred books — show the influence of different parts of the Indian cultural background as well as that of the rest of the world.” He was committed also to the humanitarian ideal. “As early as 1908, he put his position succinctly in a letter replying to the criticism of Abala Bose, the wife of a great Indian scientist, Jagadish Chandra Bose: ‘Patriotism cannot be our final spiritual shelter; my refuge is humanity. I will not buy glass for the price of diamonds, and I will never allow patriotism to triumph over humanity as long as I live.”

Although Tagore, Gandhi and Nehru knew each other, worked together, and were committed to India’s independence, the Amritsar Massacre of 1919 brought them together in common cause and “made Indians out of millions of people who had not thought consciously of their political identity before that grim Sunday. It turned loyalists into nationalists and constitutionalists into agitators [and] led the Nobel Prize-winning poet Rabindranath Tagore to return his knighthood to the king and a host of Indian appointees to British offices to turn in their commissions.” The Trinidad awakening and the Bandung conference had a similar impact upon Dr. Williams. Caught up in the intensity of a rising nationalist movement in Trinidad and Tobago, and anxious about his role as a historian/intellectual in the movement, Dr. Williams regarded the philosophical reflections of Tagore as guides to his behavior. He admired Tagore’s aesthetic sensibilities, his participation in India’s nationalist movement, the breath of his internationalist concerns, and what Amartya Sen called his “reasoned understanding of the world around us, … his wholehearted support for scientific education … [and] his cultural evaluations.”

Tagore’s epistemic approach to his work and his concern for the common people appealed to Dr. Williams. His belief in the “freedom of mind,” the expansion of education as “central to social progress,” the importance of science in understanding the world, and the use of modern technology to develop India must have impressed Dr. Williams. Amartya Sen puts it this way: “The poet who was famous in the West only as a romantic and a spiritualist was in fact persistently guided in his writings by the necessity of critical reasoning and the importance of human freedom.” Most of all, Tagore believed that “Truth is realized through men.” Like Tagore, Williams believed that if you gave people the information (in Williams’ case, historical and political information) they required they would be able to make intelligent choices about where they wanted to go as a people. His association with C.L.R. James during the early phases of the nationalist movement tended to reinforce this position.

According to Dr. Williams, Tagore represented “one of the best examples that we can ever hope to find of the role of the intellectual in the Nationalist Movement in colonial countries.” (The Birth of Dr. Williams, 57). It may have helped if Dr. Williams had emphasized that although Tagore fought for the independence of India, he “was critical of the display of excessive nationalism in India, despite his persistent criticism of British imperialism. And notwithstanding his great admiration for Japanese culture and history, he would chastise Japan late in his life for its extreme nationalism and its mistreatment of China and east and southeast Asia.” Yet it remains true that it was a role that Williams tried to emulate as he gave himself more and more to his nationalist movement.

As an intellectual at the head of a nationalist movement, Dr. Williams drew on Tagore’s inspiration to assist him in understanding the demands of our nationalist movement and his own humanity. Although he never articulated his religious beliefs, his conception of the Godhead was closer to that of Tagore who prayed that “he may never lose the bliss of the touch of the One in the play of the many” (The Birth of Dr. Williams, 68). In his final submission to oneness of the world, Tagore declared: “I have come to the brink of eternity from which nothing can vanish-no hope, no happiness, no vision of a face seen through tears. Oh dip my emptied life into the ocean, plunge it into the deepest fullness. Let me for once feel that lost sweet touch in the allness of the universe” (The Birth of Dr. Williams, 68-9). It was this magnanimous, all-embracing spirit that Whitman, whom Tagore also admired, tried to capture in his poetical rendering of the world. It was a vision of the world that Dr. Williams also shared.

Dr. Williams never wanted any monuments built to commemorate his achievements or to perpetuate his glory or his memory. He wanted to be cremated and have his ashes thrown into the Gulf of Paria to merge once more with the great confluence of nature out of which he had come. Eternity rather than the passing moments of time mattered to him. This is why he quoted Tagore so approvingly when he said: “There, where spreads the infinite sky for the soul to take her flight in, reigns the stainless white radiance. There is no day nor night, nor form nor color and never a word” (The Birth of Dr. Williams, 68).

Tagore was also fascinated by the play between life and death. Dr. Williams writes: “His principal concern was death” (The Birth of Dr. Williams, 68). In Phalguni, a celebration of spring, Tagore captured this pas-de-deux between life and death when he observed, “those who fear death do not know life; they embrace decay and exist in a living death, cut off from the life-rich universe.” Men and women, as Tagore said, yearned to experience life in a fuller and truer manner leading him to believe that “The life that is continually in blossom in the journey of human civilization, is so by continually conquering death.” It is in this conflict between “death and life, might and love, self-interest and welfare, this struggle of opposites to which only man’s religious instinct can glimpse a true solution — a solution that is supreme peace, supreme good and supreme unity.”

In their introduction to Tagore’s autobiographical essays, Devadatta Joardar and Joe Winter say of Tagore: “If literature was a focus for his inner energies the village of Santiniketan was where Tagore’s practical life sought an ideal. In the deepest of ways he lived for his people. From 1901, when he started his school there, to his death, he worked continuously to let the creative currents of the society find their freedom.” From the moment he entered politics in 1956 until his death in 1981, Dr. Williams strove continuously to let the creative currents of our people find their freedom in an understanding of their sensuous activities. In committing his life to re-searching and serving his people, he was aware, as Thucydides who wrote, that the essence of historical inquiry was “to correct and eliminate legends, false beliefs, [and] mistakes” without which a people could not understand themselves. This is what he sought to do throughout his life.

Eric Williams read widely and drew his inspiration from the best that was said and thought in the world, a concession he might have made to Matthew Arnold who would have understood him perfectly. He was committed to “freedom of mind,” freedom of the press, and an open democracy. His sympathies knew no racial barriers as he embraced us all. He understood Cicero’s injunction that “to be ignorant of what happened before you were born is to remain a child forever,” which is why he believed that a study of history and literature hold the keys to understanding who we are. He would have been sympathetic to the imperative that we ought not to be trapped by our past. The least we can do is to come to terms with his teachings and the interracial message that he left us seeking to find kinship everywhere we pass and perhaps, proclaiming as Tagore did in Gitanjali:

Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high;
Where knowledge is free;
Where the world has not been broken into fragments by narrow domestic walls;…
Where the clear stream of reason has not lost its way into the dreary desert
sand of dead habit;…
Into that heaven of freedom, my Father, let my country awake.

Notes are available here:
www.trinicenter.com/Cudjoe/2011/0610.htm

20 Responses to “Dr. Williams as a Man of Culture”


  • Much in keeping with your analysis above of Dr. Williams as an internationally renowned scholar, Caribbean political leader, and Trini, WBYeats who gave to English Literature and modern thought the lines, “…things fall apart, the centre cannot hold…” also said, “Culture is the sanctity of the intellect.”

    In the strategy of the imperialists, culture is essentially infantile and a means to control and ensure, as Walter Rodney put it, ‘the underdevelopment’ of the colonized.

    It is song and dance and ethnic foods usually dusted and brought out for empire days and play.

    Culture is everything one does, has and is (my definition).

    The Death-culture in which Black youth now exist, for example today’s Rap and Hip-Hop in which according to criminals like 50-CENT and Snoop Doggie Dog to whom in their lives and lifestyles Black women in particular are called bitc*es, ironically emerged from a Life-culture begun by the Last Poets and Public Enemy Number One.

    The recording industry and their distributing networks, radio and TV killed off the Life-culture of those heroes, including political figures and artistes like Rap Brown of the Black Panthers, and James Brown (Sing it out loud, I’m Black and I’m proud) and replaced it with what now exists.

    Mysogynists like the white rapper, Eminem, are multi-millionaires from cussin and degrading Black women, and women in general.

    This hasn’t occurred by guess.

    The owners of the state apparatus in the American empire and in other European spheres of influence have always been very cognizant of how culture can be used either to free a people or to further enslave them.

    Their private enterprise surrogates have also used culture to enrich themselves even as they concomitantly pauperise the ‘wretched of the earth’ from whom authentic culture is created.

    One of these, Tommy Hilfiger (see Tipping Point, written by Malcolm Gladwell) when his clothing style was going no where, used Black urban youth as his ‘tipping point’ to globalise his financial and designer clothing via rap and hip-hop that was degenerate and degenerating.

    Meanwhile, what were they doing to the creators of Rap? Demonising them as anti-Semites and killing off their influence and impact on Black urban youth who now face the future, not with righteousness and uplifted faces but with exposed buttocks.

    While personal morality and individual resposibility are the ultimate arbiters of success and/or of failure, societal expectations and influence from institutions as schools, churches, synagogues, TV etc., are potent with the seeds of change and of control.

    It is these institutions which compete effectively with family to early influence one’s choices and decisions, and in no small way, one’s future.

    It is here that culture (with a capital ‘C’) has the national and international impact to affect a people and their future. This impact is not universal but simultaneously affects and is affected by the strength of a people to defend their interests, politically and otherwise.

    One’s ‘culture’ by way of language–the vehicle by which the mind communicates all else to others, and is communicated to by others–, belief, attitude, self-perception etc., is derived and defended or surrendered.

    Every human, regardless of everything else, creates culture. The challenge is in who subsequently and eventually controls and benefits from this creation.

    Ownership is not necessarily control.

    This is, in my opinion, the point of departure between the culture of Black people and the culture of all other people.

    Black culture out-competes, globally, every other form of culture, be it Jazz, Rn’B, Reggae, the Blues, Negro Spirituals, etc. In the US, it is the indigenous culture, and the bedrock of all other cultural exhibits. Bar none!

    Unfortunately, while Black culture benefits others it does not benefit Black communities. Thus, in the US, if one needs to use any form of these cultural manifestations, for example, Bob Marley’s compendium of musics, Muddy Waters’ Mississippi Delta Blues, or Negro Spirituals, one must seek permission from White promoters, and lawyers.

    Even Black TV Stations, for example, BET have been converted from news analyses and social commentary to “Pimp Night” cheap, degenerate productions.

    In TnT, the ‘culture’ created by calypsonians equal the impact of these North American creations.

    Calypsonians like Spoiler, Black Stalin, Cro Cro and others contribute(d) to commentary, wit, whimsy, and upliftment. As I grew older I more understood why my parents always despised Sparrow. True, he had such gems like, “London Bridge Is Fallin’ Down (and) Dan Is De Man In De Van”.

    However, his magnum opus, ‘Jean an’ Dinah’ continued and accelerated the degeneration of Black women as candidates for whoredom.

    At a time when Dr. Williams was recouping Chagaramus back to TnT control from Yankee domination, Sparrow was taking the opposite route.

    In a devilishly summative and pro-imperialist line; one that captured the worst of circumstances possible in subjugating Black people in general, and Black women in particular, he succinctly prophesied, “The Yankees gone an’ Sparrow take over now”.

    Sparrow didn’t begin the degeneration. He accelerated it. Before him there were such commercial lyrics now iconic like,
    “Rum an’ Coca Cola,
    Goin’ down Point Cumana,
    See mother an’ daughter
    Workin’ for the Yankee dollar.”

    Black people and Black women have seen their lives and livelihoods lowered, not only by men of other races, but enthusiastically by Black men.

    It will take Black men of the calibre, courage, vision, and determination like Dr. Williams to assist in returning us to ourselves, and to Yahweh, the ultimate source of all “creativity” dedicated to righteous passion and wholesome relationships.

    Shalom, Dr. Cudjoe, Shalom.

    • Very thoughtful analysis and I agree with the main point of your post, i.e. the current death culture, a.k.a rap and hip hop are not authentic manifestations of the true culture of many African Diasporic populations, but are in fact poisonous and in many cases, deadly African communities everywhere.

      The current spate of gratuitous violence on the part of many dark-skinned youths with kinky hair have earned us the contempt of many other communities and have brought African communities to shame everywhere and has resulted in the term “black male” having a negative connotation in many other countries across the world.

      The creatures who spew fotth their bile about “b*%ches” and “h#es” are the enemies of black humanity and are part of the forces arrayed against the advances of the black community.

      Their influence must be challenged.

    • Is it the media and art or is it the lack of responsibility, and accountability from members who share the same culture in regards to thier children?

  • Colloboration or exploitation?

    This lively video on the link below, done at Paris stage show , features the electronic composer/keyboardist Jean Michel Jarre (in red jkt. with his uniquely designed guitar-keyboard, musician son of film composer Maurice Jarre, ) his group,and a Trinidad steel band called “Renegades” that he joined up with for his elaborate national tour a few years back.

    The large costumed figure floating around the stage of Paris stadium, is a product of Peter Minshall, award-winning Trinidad designer of huge costumed Carnival bands, who designed the costumes and some of the special effects of the Opening Ceremonies of the ’92 Barcelona Olympics.
    Both Minshall and Renegades steel band were recruited for Jarre’s videos and stage shows on his tour of France .

    Jarre has recorded dozens of CDs over the years, and one especially, “OXYGENE”, is the biggest selling electronic jazz album ever.He’s constantly innovating, seeking out new sounds with new musical collaborators, including a German symphony orchestra, European opera singers, and now a Trinidad steel band.

    Up the sound to get full value – his style is similar to Japanese electronic keyboard artist TOMITA, only at accelerated speeds……

    Finally, do a Google Search for Jean Michel Jarre,son of multiple Oscar-winning French composer Maurice Jarre (Dr Zhivago, Lawrence of Arabia, A Passage to India. etc).

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XNIjDUSIOzY

  • Eric Williams read widely and drew his inspiration from the best that was said and thought in the world, a concession he might have made to Matthew Arnold who would have understood him perfectly. He was committed to “freedom of mind,” freedom of the press, and an open democracy. His sympathies knew no racial barriers as he embraced us all. He understood Cicero’s injunction that “to be ignorant of what happened before you were born is to remain a child forever,” which is why he believed that a study of history and literature hold the keys to understanding who we are. He would have been sympathetic to the imperative that we ought not to be trapped by our past. The least we can do is to come to terms with his teachings and the interracial message that he left us seeking to find kinship everywhere we pass and perhaps, proclaiming as Tagore did in Gitanjali:

    Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high;
    Where knowledge is free;
    Where the world has not been broken into fragments by narrow domestic walls;…
    Where the clear stream of reason has not lost its way into the dreary desert
    sand of dead habit;…
    Into that heaven of freedom, my Father, let my country awake

    Black men like Eric Williams, throughout history, have always disturbed the peace of those who find disproportional ego satisfaction from their perception that their position on the racial continuum is closer to the white end than it is to the black end. They embody all the traditional prejudices repesented by that continuum, and measure their human and group worth based on the myths, stereotypes, vain notions that the closer you are as a group to the white end of that continuum, the greater your human value.

    What and who we are today cannot be separated from who and what we were 100, 200, 1000 years ago. Tributaries from the streams of culturations over time continue to carry us in its directional flow, inundating us with all of the negative flotsam that originated at the source of the streams. So even though we happen to have erected facades and cosmetic character make up to hide our true selves, they emerge in nuances, in innuendos, in attitudes that unequivocally and transparently link us a position on the racial continuum.

    Sigmund Freud came up with a set of psychological defense mechanism that he theorized humans used to ward of consciousness of things they could not deal with. And nowhere is this more obvious than in the haste with which many hurl racism at intellectuals like Doctor Williams and Doctor Cudjoe. In the quest to silence them or silence keen examination of their thoughts, these critics project cultural and psychological deficiences that are inherrently native to them, upon these black men with the hope that the silence they seek will materialized. If it could not during centuries of enslavement, it will not today in a semi emancipated world.

    • “In the quest to silence them or silence keen examination of their thoughts, these critics project cultural and psychological deficiences that are inherrently native to them, upon these black men with the hope that the silence they seek will materialized. If it could not during centuries of enslavement, it will not today in a semi emancipated world”.

      Yes, but too much energy is being expended on this recurring theme. It has become all-consuming and obsessive. Why not follow Linda Edward’s lead and provide suggestions to uplift your own without repeatedly denigrating those who you perceive to be the enemy.

  • I read some comments in the blog that seem critical of Africans pointing to historical contributions and achievements that were beneficial to this world. Well…., as long as people feel they have the right to find group ego enhancement from boasting about academic achievements in a society that was freed up and made more balanced by struggles of Africans that enabled those academic achievements, I assert the right to remind them on how it came about. No one has the right to expect that any dialogue will be confined to a capsule that ignores what happened before they were borned, or before they got to where they are at.

    • “In the quest to silence them or silence keen examination of their thoughts, these critics project cultural and psychological deficiences that are inherrently native to them, upon these black men with the hope that the silence they seek will materialized. If it could not during centuries of enslavement, it will not today in a semi emancipated world”.

      OK agreed. You should not be silenced. You made your point over and over again: “these critics project cultural and psychological deficiences that are inherrently native to them”. Now what? Any new ideas to move your people forward?

      Sermo datur cunctis; animi sapientia paucis. – Speech is given to many; intelligence to few”

      • Be honest.

        For whom did you require the use of the English translation from the Latin?

        • Do not forget that English has Germanic Roots as well. Some may say that the germanic roots have the most influence on the language.

  • Capildeo stood on a political podium and told the Central constituents that he need not ask for their as he was “Brahmin”. Brahmin is a hierarchic order in the deck of the Hindu caste system. This constant slandering of Eric Williams expose and confirm deep seated loyalty bordering hate for our Nation. This direction only serve prepare the nation for a very very dark future. Like we haven’t learn from the Rwanda Bosnia Tamil and Ayoda genocide. Its time The T&T Government i particular the PP constituents reverse this course and be thankful for what Eric Williams saw us through. Suffice to say Eric was not perfect-but who is-He’s the best we had and few come along in the passage of time with the knowledge and Brilliance like Eric Williams Brian Lara Hasely Crawford Kenneth Julian Kitchener Basil Pit. We must rationalize dream from reality. Humanity and the global community will not accept the diabolical ferment of race as its architecture for demographic structuring. God may bless us only thus far-God Forbid we cross the line- if we haven’t already. You will not succeed (PP)!

  • Linda Edwards, class of '67

    Before Dr. Williams came into our lives as an exemplar of learning, thought and scholarship, I used to find the quotes of someone else, used at the start of a piece of writing, or speech, irrelevant, time wasting. Through him, I learned to value each quotation, each learned allusion, and taught my writing students at the high school level, to use them to show “a touch of learning,” and to convince the reader that they were widely read. I also made them check allusions in other people’s work. There is a portrait of me hanging in the Regional Office of the State Board of Education, that attests to the work I did, inspired by this man of learning. I made them read and decipher parts of his work, Derek Walcott’s Antilles, and a science piece by Dr. Stephan Gift called “The Red Shift Controversy”. But what impressed my students most was that I knew these people personally and at least one of them would have recognized me walking down Frederick Street.
    This is what I mean when I say that an Afro-Centric education is very important to Diaspora African children. They need to be able to tap into the greatness of people who look like them.Children need heroes to imitate.

  • From papa Eric, to hindu prince ,Uncle Capildeo, and so the nostalgic mantras continues by staunch fans yes? How interesting indeed! Don’t wish to rain on anybody parade , especially since impressionable minds are up for grabs, but I view dem past heroes in the same way I look at a relay race Madame L. Let’s for example follow my metaphor, by saying that ‘life is a relay race to the top ,’ yes?
    So the Papa Eric , Hasley Crawford, Wendell Motley, Mc Donald Baleye ,Joseph Umbala, Max Senthouse, Professor Batholomew ,ANR Robinson,Janelle Panny Commissiong ,of the world ,led the way ,and placed us on the map ,as far as achievements ,but what did they pass on for succeeding generations?
    Ever vindictive , intellectual genius, Papa Eric was so obsessed with power ,that he died in office , with no clear successor to his neo imperial – ‘no darm dog barking throne,’ but confusion reigned, as his modern day,equally vindictive , self serving clone, in Patrick Manning ,will do everything to die the same way. Hasley Crawford only gave us our 1st 100 meters Olympic medal after following stalwarts such as named above , but fast forward to today and see the result, Jamaica under Don Quarry is a sporting giant of the world, and in the last Bejing Olympics , so disgusted were the T&T sporting committee was with this one time drunken party freak, that they made him pay his own passage to come to the games , as a member of the Grenadian contigent. Play boy maxsenthouse squandered his papa fortunes, Umbala maybe likewise , and today has resorted to racial rants on the radio, so that the only Afrikan business people we can see in our country emerged from Georgetown , where they escape the racially discriminatory fiefdom ,of Jagdeo the closet socialist.
    Penny won our first Afrikan Miss Universe , but did it really matter? 2011 , we have another self serving , educated ignoramus in Wendy whose claim to fame after her own victory , is that she not only never misss a carnival jump up , but made a illegitimate /bastard kid, with some Jamaican married man, and proudly masquerade it around POS ,for all our girls from john , john , and beetham to see, so that they too can recognize that the way to social independence as a woman , is to cause Yardee married men, to cheat on their clueless spouses , and refuse to use a condom.What a sick tragedy , in an era of AIDS crisis , eeeh Wendy?
    Oh , I forgot ,our resident life time rabid feminist , a la Madame L ,applauded her , for not settling down with some illiterate , abusive Trini male.
    However I digress, ‘Diaspora kids need role models’ such as these , self serving creatures.
    As Afrkan folks continue to tout the virtues of dead heroes, with little hope in sight, as any leader of worth , remains out of the country , let’s just say , we know who our Indo Trini , Chinese, Euro , Arab,local Jewish , and high end 1% French creole kids,had so that they could emulate.
    Your call ,Madame L. For de record, de time for gloating ain’t reach yet , my good lady , as there is much more work to be done, not only for the kids of Southern Houston , but T&T, yes?
    Stand by for my call, if Uncle Rick Perry, ain’t tap you to be his education secretary advisor as yet. Just kidding!

  • Linda Edwards, class of '67

    T-man, let the record state that Linda Edwards uplifted ALL her people, students who crossed her path. I once worked in an 80% white school on the US east coast,a d as associate principal, and was highly regarded by the students. When I taught in an all Hispanic school, my students, taking a writing examination in English for the first time, got 100% passes. When I taught at Woodbrook Secondary in its early years, my two closest students were Indra Bissoon and Charmaine Brown, who were like twins, one Indin originated, one African originated. It is how the Edwards family does education. I represent the third generation of us, and my two nieces, teaching and administering schools in another US state, do the same. You find EXMPLES OF THEIR GREAT PeOPLE, TO HELP THEM IDENTIFY.If you care about teaching children, that’s what you do. That was why my late sister Mrs. Jestina Guerra reported a teacher from Barataria Senior Comp.to the Ministry of Education, for dividing the class into India and Africa, movin his desk to “India” and teaching only the Indian children. He was the principal’s drinking buddy so he got away with it. This was in 1987. The country is now reaping the hate he and others sowed.This half drunk teacher, also routinely sent the young African poor children out of class to count the toilets in the building, and to count how many bricks are alongside one wall. Stupid stuff like that probably still goes on. Such people are NOT part of the Williams legacy.

  • Madam L, please , please , enough with the patting on de back, and gloating about your great service to the world, particularly in the past.
    All right , all right , as we say on the street , I’ll admit it , if such places a smile on your respective faces , de doc was great Dr Cudjoe, and maybe we can name every street from St Anns ,to Woodbrook ,POS, and beyond , after him in tribute, but enough already hmmmm?
    Just in case ‘you alls are asleep,’ our country is facing a human security crisis, of epic proportion, yes?
    For those not acquainted with the lingo of modern international relations , it means ,a crisis in health , physical/national security, education of relevance, economics , and joblessness, continued corruption, administrative inefficiencies , and none transparency ,in both government , and private sector , and yes an overall lack of vision by all our leaders ,in and out of power , that one cannot help but be in a state of panic, for our youths.
    You guys fully know ,what can occur, when a people remains stuck in a state of despair ,yes? Wake up, for it time for baby America , to start our occupy Port of Spain , SanFernando, Couva, Chagurnas,Siparia , Tacarigua, Scarborough, and even the drunken chamber Red House of Parliament.

    http://www.adbusters.org/campaigns/occupywallstreet

  • Linda Edwards, class of '67

    I am not patting myself on the back Neal, I am stating a record that others can still emulate. I still do motivational workshops for others, for free. The idea expressed by T-Man was that Edwards did for her people, meaning African originated people. I was only showing him that the world’s people are my people. If you have a problem with that, I would exempt you from any future reading comprehension exercises based on what I write.Each of us is given a talent or two, to share. Sharing with the world is what I do. How does one establish a bona fide hiding behind one name that may not be a real name. Eric Williams was who he said he was. Cudjoe is who he says he is, and so am I. Anything I say can be checked as a fact. Some may prefer my women to get pregnant at 13 and be a grandmother by 27, what I do is designed to send them along another path. I cannot understand, and have never understood mean spirited people.I stand in the truth of my own name, and in the grace of the creator God, whose work I do. I call names beause I want people to check, and possibly, learn something.That teacher, reported by my sister, might still be teaching, and running taxi between classes. He wanted to beat her up for reporting him, except that her husband was part of the defence services. My people!

  • I hear you Madam L, and as you very well know , will always respect your service, and keen patriotism, when it comes to your wonderful country.
    By de way , you said ,”How does one establish a bona fide hiding behind one name that may not be a real name?”Now I am not too sure if that was a jab at yours truly , or….., since my comprehension ain’t dat great ,as I could not pass my common entrance back in the day,so as to enter one oh dem ,fine secondary schools ,Papa Eric initiated ,in the 70’s .
    If so , however , are you saying by the above,that I am a fake , phony , none authentic creature, who is hiding behind some fictitious name , and my background cannot be verified,since I do not hold Phd’s like papa Eric / Dr. Cudjoe , or served on exalted board like you did?
    Hey folks , you see why it remain’s difficult ,to be my usual nice self , to dis woman , when you give her a pale of milk , and she comes into your yard, and destroy your cows?
    Oh, I get it , it’s dem South Asian /Indo Trini blood ,you have flowing in your veins , huh? In dat case , tell cuz Boodram I say hi.
    Just in case Madame L was alluding ,that this ,or similar nonsense ,was the case , can someone please tell her , that I am the closest you can get in terms of authenticity anywhere on dis her information highway.
    Don’t worry, my memoirs will be out soon, just trying to tweak the title a bit, as we speak. Here is my lists ,maybe you can provide some help as an editor yourself? 1. A 2nd Class citizen Stranger,’ in my own land, 2. How race mongrels,and neo imperial ,fake leaders ,destroyed my country , and made me almost nostalgic for de return evil European Massa again, 3. Keeping the Barbarians at bay. 4.If your right hand offend you cut it off: Why secession is necessary for Tobago AGORA.
    Seriously, I know my country and it’s people , as I have observed them up close , both at home ,and abroad.
    I know that they are hurting, and can achieve no tangible benefit , if we continue to look over our shoulders. There is work to be done, so let’s roll up our sleeves ,and get down and dirty.

  • Linda Edwards, class of '67

    Response to Neal’s last post.Nothing of the sort. Just that any reader could google me, get past that articles I have written, see my picture, possibly read excerpts from my books, I don’t know what’s all out there. One can do the same for Eric Williams, Stephan Gift, Selwyn Cudjoe, but what does one do with a “neal”, “Mamoo” or “TMan”? We have never had as far as I know, country where one was afraid to use one’s own name, until this last five years or so. Regret.In the African tradition, standing in one’s own name means saying who you are, your honorifics, your parimony so that others can measure the calibre of the man or woman. Understand now why Miriam Makeba, late great, used all 26 of her names?(Check the names of the Dutchess of Alba, (Spain) who made the news lst week, by marrying again, at 85)She has about ten names.
    Now, I’m done with this. I prefer to be an issue person, rather that focussing on individuals, including myself.

  • “I prefer to be an issue person, rather that focussing on individuals, including myself.” Talk about contradictions Madam L. This is just the point , I personally do not wish to place too much focus on myself , opting instead to make my voice heard instead.
    To you , it seems as if you view your job / journey has ended , as for me , mine is just beginning , so stay tuned.
    Part of my seemingly idiotic cyber escapades is to find like minded folks who care about country , and humanity , and are willing to make a difference – not looking backwards over our shoulders, and why you might enquire ? Well ,as the actor Tom Hanks once said in the 95 Movie Apollo 13, “Huston we have a problem!” No need for me to indicate where the present day problem lies, and remember, beseeching Trini center moderators not to delete our posts because they disagree with the tenor of our thinking , or crying to Queen K , and her minions ,with sound reasons,might amount to nothing, especially since they have enough advisors
    Prudent Solidarity dear friends! There must be some deep reason why a few of us would spend so much time driving on dis here information highway, I am certain.
    As for Neal , the person, my life is quite an open book, and anyone who took the time to read my commentaries over the past 3 years , would know exactly who I am . Luv country .

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