The Prime Minister as Goddess

By Dr. Selwyn R. Cudjoe
December 13, 2011

Annabella stocking want patching
She want de doctah to help she with dat
Johnson trousers falling
He want de doctor help he wid dat
Some want a zephyr motor car
Others want a piece of land
[Now] Dorothy loss she man
She want to complain to Doctoh Williams.

Dr. Selwyn R. CudjoeIn 1958, as the demands upon Dr. Eric Williams grew, the Mighty Striker penned “Don’t Blame de PNM” in which he elevated Dr. Williams to the status of godhead. Dr. Williams may have been ironic in quoting this poem in his autobiography. However, Striker was on target when he satirized the fickleness of our people’s understanding of government when he observed that even when yo’ lose yo’ man, yo expect the prime minister to help yo’ with dat.

As the calypso suggests, politics in a colonial era centered on the omnipotence of the leader. Fifty three years later, after all of the criticism of Doctah politics, the party that was supposed to usher in a new day is still singing the same old song and practicing the same old politics. While the maximum leader may have been acceptable in the age of colonialism, in 2011, it is anachronistic.

Take the case of Akini Gill, a young man who broke through barriers of dyspraxia and dyslexia to achieve a first degree at UWI and accepted thereafter into a MA program at New York University (NYU). It is a program I know because my younger daughter received a MA degree in business-music from NYU some years ago.

After Akini was accepted, the heavy hand of bureaucracy intervened. Ten days after having been awarded a scholarship the government informed this young man that the award of his scholarship was “an administrative error.” This is rubbish. I have been a part of the United States higher education system for almost forty years. Once a scholarship (or admittance) is granted to a student it stands whether it is an error or not.

According to the Guardian (the story was broken by the Mirror), the government advanced three reasons for withdrawing the scholarship: a) NYU only accepted him because he has a learning disability and they will receive a grant; b) the Scholarship Selection Committee had no right to recommend Gill for that kind of scholarship; and c) several Cabinet ministers do not support granting Akini that kind of scholarship because they would have to make similar waivers for others in the future.

I do not know how “the Cabinet” gets into such matters? One would have thought that such a decision was within the purview of the committee selected for making such decisions. Most citizens remember the big hullabaloo the Prime Minster made when she revealed that the previous government awarded close to 43 million dollars in scholarships to fellow citizens. No one can forget the spectacle she made when she lamented that over 90 per cent of these scholarships went to Africans without regard to merit or criteria.

Yet, this same government who belabored the unfairness of the PNM scholarship program is now telling us that every Tom, Dick and Harripaul that they can reach into every area of national life to make decisions that affect the most intimate aspects of our lives.

One would have thought that once a competent committee was set up to administer a scholarship program the government would have abided by their decision, the assumption being that it knows what it is doing. I would not expect our Minister of Multiculturalism, for example, to know one thing about the criterion for a student who wishes to pursue a master’s degree in physics. And there is really no reason why he should know about it because it does not fall within his area of responsibility or his knowledge base.

But such is the politicization and over-bureaucratization of the society that ministers of government have their hands in everything. The Minister of Works tells the Port Authority who to hire and fire; the Cabinet tells the Scholarship Committee to whom to award scholarships; the Minister of Foreign Affairs decides the correct balance of ethnicities for foreign consulates; while the Minister of Ideological Affairs decides the race of the child that is admitted into “his” school.

Just when things were looking hopeless, just as Akini began to despair, our loving Prime Minister intervened and, in one splendid moment, she turned water into wine. Akini was awarded his scholarship. Our divinely-anointed Prime Minister declared that “in the spirit of love and giving” “her government will give to young Akini.” And we say that miracles do not happen again.

What remains striking his how little things have changed over the last fifty-two years. Personality and arbitrariness still take place over laws and procedures; the Prime Minister still acts as a god; and every one still bows at her behest. She still see herself as goddess, an anachronism in this day and age and a reduction of the democracy to the “I am that I am” principle.

The prime minister has elevated her status to the point where she asserts that everything in the country revolves around her. Without a trace of irony she declares that “there is always resistance to change that is a known scientific factor…in terms of change in any institution, organization in a society…I am consumed by the need to address all kinds of matters…There is a huge responsibility to get it right and so many people depend on the decisions I make.”

So that what began as a coalition of parties and shared responsibilities reduces itself to a glorification of self to a point where she has the power to give and take; the ability to make and break; and the capacity to fool herself with simplistic rhetoric.

Under the circumstances, one is forced to ask: “In this country, what has changed over the last eighteen months and can we point to one institution that embodies the change of which our Prime minister speaks?”

11 thoughts on “The Prime Minister as Goddess”

  1. [can we point to one institution that embodies the change of which our Prime minister speaks?]
    1.Well the SoE and the sandiwara(Drama) that followed changed for a moment of 10-14 days until they had to release the 16.National Security never had a ethnic policy.
    2.Sympathy & fear under such copycat State-Fear-mongering PR left darling AG & Sandy screaming though d papers remain unapologetic.
    3.We might nominate our Lady of Sorrow & Pity Mother Theresa Pamela and coronate her with a bottle of punchin

  2. “the Cabinet tells the Scholarship Committee to whom to award scholarships;” Sounds to me it is no different than when the PNM was in power. Only difference is there is no secret $50 million scholarship fund for the party hacks and their family. There is greater accountability and transparency.

    The PP for it’s part has given more to black people than any other race in T&T. Just last month the PM announced some $300 million to assist poor black folks supposedly affected by the SOE. Some 12,000 HDC homes mainly inhabited by PNMites are scheduled to be fixed with some 20,000 jobs going mainly to black folks. The PP have been in power for only 18 months. In that time they have done more for black folks than the PNM did in 50 years. CEPEP, URP, HYPE etc all getting incredible funding in addition the Minister of Social services is responding faster that a speeding Usain Bolt.

    Now tell me if ever in the 50 year history of PNM rule they ever spent a “black cent” in the Opposition areas? The PNM never gave us homes, water, or anything of value. The roads were hardly ever fixed. Water came when the NAR came to power.

    Yet PNM appologist blinded by race continues to give people the impression that somehow black folks are an oppressed lot in T&T. That they are sorry victims of racism etc. It is the victimhood mentality that is taking T&T down the road of no return. On the streets of POS the unions have told black people they are victims of the PP administration.
    Yet they forget that PNM did not really care about them, this administration is still giving them something.

    One scholarship not given is now the hue and cry of racist…When will it end. Please spare us this diatribe. Trinidad need to “breathe” a little…

  3. Dr. Cudjoe failed to state that Mr. Akini Gill’s GPA was TOO LOW!!!! as was mentioned in the Guardian article that he has quoted from.

  4. “Gajadharsingh-Nanga has accused the SDMS board and its general secretary, Satnarayan Maharaj, of asking her to block non-Indian and non-Hindu pupils and workers from the school.”

    Oh yes , keep shaping ,the narrative, by distorting the facts, in any form or fashion guys.You remain the victims, and simultaneous saviors , that is so vital to save our society/ nation , and possibly ,by extension civilization, and how preposterous!
    Let me add however , that any political leader ,who in 2011,chooses to have Tim Goopeesing ,as a member of their cabinet ,should be discredited , as a healer , uniter , and caring person , concern about taking our country forward,along the part of sustainable development.
    Without doubt , he is perhaps, the most morally unsound person, in the entire PP government, and that’s putting it mildly.
    Listen to him do his political spin, and blame shift, so as not to address the real travesty as ignored by his leadership.
    An educational institution , whose existence ,depends on state subsidies, then resorted to blatant, systemic discriminations ,against children of our country , simply due to their racial makeup.
    How disgusting indeed, yet why do they succeed you enquire?
    I will tell you.
    1. They were able to convince enough folks from within the tribe , that during the past 49 years of the country’s existence as a nation , Afrikan people, were the evil ones, that have kept the majority of the Indo population back ,in every fashion , from lack of jobs,sub par education, ineffective security across their enclaves,deficient infrastructure , no development, and infrastructural enhancement ,blatant , politically orchestrated police abuses . In short, by engaging in ethnic cleansing and genocides against the Indo Trini populace.
    2.By inveigling a few folks of the Afrikan persuasions , to ignore reality , and so parrot this repeated ,distorted mantra, that Afrikan folks ,have done wanton harm to our country , and our country, would be far worst unless , CHANGE , as we deem it , is instituted , either by selective social purges, and other brands of roll backs , as played out across the maligned Public Service , and others sectors , since assuming power.
    3.By failing to use their influence to encourage the private sector to assume some of the responsibility in helping to fully develop our country via real viable investment , and job creation initiatives , which can help our nation as a whole.
    Not sure if any objective study can be produce to deny that since 1962, to present , less than 2 % Africans ,were ever employed in a private company owned , or operated/ managed, by a citizen of Indian descent- even when 90% of the resources ,along with lucrative contracts , were obtained from the state.
    Not surprisingly , some clueless , and disingenuous soul , would interpret mine , and others commentaries , re our country’s state of affairs, as anti X , Y , & Z diatribes , or even worst,some opaque race envy attempt, which is again , sad.
    The day my country ,decides to open the floor for honest discussions ,on these and similar subjects , is when we can begin a serious task of prudent development.
    Anything short is hogwash, as is destined to result in abject long term failure. Of this they can be assured.
    Luv Humanity!

  5. I am truly happy that I was not part of the education system that this author claims he had been in for over forty years. Having been a counselor for some years, I can say that scholarships are maintained only if set grade point averages are maintained and for full time attendance. Outside of that it take personal intervention by someone on the board of the scholarship, after the presentation of personal letter with relevant facts that caused the GPA to fall below the required number, to change the GPA requirement.
    I think this author doctors the information to make his points.

    1. What grade point average? My understanding is for you to go to a university you need at least a 3.5 and up grade point average. That is if you want a scholarship. Furthermore you have to maintain that average throughout your time at the university or else you will lose your scholarship funding. Under the PNM since 1956 they have been giving out “scholarships” to party members only regardless of GPA. Some of them even take the money and achieved nothing. A friend of mine said he went to WASA met an Afro engineer, who was paid handsomely but can hardly read, understand or write proper English. Mediocracy versus meritocracy. You choose.

      1. Another LIE try harder next time “Mamoo”, In my entire life I in T&T I have yet to met an Indo “engineer”.

      2. You have some gall to talk about “mediocracy” versus “meritocracy” and about an “afro” Engineer who can hardly read, understand or write proper English. You should real know better than that but it is clear now that you stupidity is unsurpassed. I know a lot of indo medical student who couldn’t graduate because they could not pass the year one Use of English Course. So?

  6. Yes ,we hear you AI , but more importantly,outside of your outrage of the flawed education you pinpointed about the “previous author,” don’t you find that sometimes ,the actions of this regime,led by Her Majesty Queen K,’ comes across as almost selectively picky , and amateurish at times , when it comes to governance?
    Here are the facts:- First day after she was sworn into office with the Bhagwat Gita, with promises to uphold our Constitution ,a systematic onslaught was made on citizens – many of whom , gave a kick in de butt, to Manning and his bunch- she and minions began dismantling of the Police Service , so as to bring in some more favored Canadian alleged expert, that set us back 50 years as an independent country.
    The results were immediate destruction of morals of our boys or girls in blue , as daily pressures were placed on their unions, and working personnel to accept , whatever was dished out , or find themselves viewed as obstructionist- to what we are still attempting to know.
    Secondly, after a few weeks jig and dance , Israel Khan Canadian born ,wet behind the ears son , was forced on the Prison Service , to do what, I cannot say , when no policy is being formulated to teach much needed ,life skills ,or Human Rights oriented mechanisms, aimed at changing behaviors of old / young criminals – in effort to halt recidivism.
    Thirdly, if our dedicated DPP ,sneezes in an enclosed bathroom at 3am ,some lurking bozo ,will go bonkers , will run to the Law association to cry while claiming he is cuddling criminals. In the interim , AI ,heard any talk about T&T entering the 21century , by getting rid of the British Privy Council, and support our regional Caribbean Appeals Court- a body that’s based in T&T , and cost tax payers millions.
    Fourthly, a certain dedicated , and from what I told extremely objective local Muslim Journalist, is kicked off his show in most embarrassing fashion, then maligned daily by a chorus of PP fans ,as some woman hater, with the chants being led by ,who else ,Dr. Suraj Rambachan , then fast forward to a few days ago, could not do his homework ,and find out if Fidel’s brother, Raul, had permission from Papa Pax Americana, to eat a croissant at the Hilton.
    Fifth they fire a Port Authority chairman , then surprise , that containers are entering the country left , right , and center , directly carded for well known quarters across the fan base, without getting checked- all the while as low end/ bottom feeding criminals , are getting arrested before one can say Mt Dor , or Never Dirty Movant.
    Sixth , was the firing of a Principal in a Hindu School , who had the courage to spill the beans on the racial shenanigans , as played out using the Sat Maharaj playbook. She is then hired, again,after a hugh backlash, and now anti Afro genocidal crusader Goopisesing , is putting in his two cents , on the side , no one is surprise with.Don’t be surprise to hear maligned ‘Principal Gajadharsingh-Nanga, is ah self hating ,pro PNM tell she dead’
    Seventh , a young 12 year old confuse , over excited girl ,made some stupid remarks, via Facebook, which for sensible parents like my self, would necessitate a slap on the butt, deprivation of her I phone and favorite cookie before bedtime,no computer for a week,followed by a stern lecture about responsible social media protocols. No no no , that’s not enough for the moral police fans/ , and aggrieved political micronization crew members. Off with her heads they say. Jail her for life , others scream. How about de cat- o- 9 – tail maybe , some chimed in,and the rest is history.
    In the mean time , the business of governance is left unattended so as to address – jobs deficiencies, fledging infrastructures , lack of confidence in our national institutions, a coherent Foreign policy, that can make us feel proud as a people. Every day there is a drizzle , Maraval , and Couva ,sinks to 50 inches of waters , as un collected rubbish clog our roads.
    How about a policy that can encourage our sometimes lethargic business community, to invest some dollars into our economy , and ease the job creation pressures, on the state.
    Most importantly, creating a climate , and reaching out in wise fashion to foreign states , and conglomerate ,to come to our beautiful country , abundant with human and natural resources- and do the right thing. Support and empowerment of Civil Society we can add. This is what mature politicians focus on , on the little distractions of little significance.
    Nuff said.
    We wish our people well.

  7. Well Neal I cannot help you carry that load. I was just responding to an article I read, and correcting some facts.

  8. Some naively think dat nation building is a bunch oh roses , but just tell dem dey lie ,folks!
    Did not expect you could, or even cared AI , for often “great talkers are less doers,” as my ever wise , learned ,Grandmom , a proud product of the still ‘neglected Cocrico Island Ward,’aka Tobago, used to fondly say.
    The question remains for you ,and similar egomaniacal, cyber yappers,still trying , too desperately ,to impress some of us about your ‘suspect’ educational excellence , global successes, or noble cultural DNA genes, acquired of course, from the noble , Continental homes of Asia , Afrika, or Europe,and South/ Norte Americana- WHAT IS YOUR END GAME?

    These Trinis , ahhh tell you folks! And some of you remain surprised, as to why the biggest self hating, in secured , ungrateful ,national / global successes, of dem all ,in Uncle Nobel/ Sir V.S Naipaul , aka de Englishman from Chaguranus, referred to dem ,as as a bunch oh mimics .
    What’s that AI, he should know, and along with thousands of similar minded , country loathers , would need 100 Sigmund Feud to exorcised their demons?
    Well , far from me to denounce you for being so astute , so as to finally come around to my thinking on de subject.
    I wish you well in you quest to find psychological solace by cyber , via gloating about your ….., well.. , who cares? Just fill in de blanks with what ever you wish, my friend.

    Luv Humanity!

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