By Dr. Kwame Nantambu
September 13, 2006
One of the most revered and nationally accepted, but Eurocentric, ahistorical, divisive and dysfunctional adages is the 31st August 1962 Inaugural Independence Message by then Prime Minister and historian Dr. Eric Williams, in part as follows:
“There can be no Mother India, for those whose ancestors came from India, there can be no Mother Africa, for those of African origin, and there can be no Mother Syria or no Mother Lebanon. A nation, like an individual, can have only one mother. The only mother we recognize is Mother T&T and mother cannot discriminate between her children.” (Guardian, 31 August 2006).
At the outset, it must be explained that historian Dr. Williams seems somewhat confused as to the difference between ancestors versus forefathers. The fact of the matter is that our forefathers came from India as indentured labourers and our forefathers came from Afrika as slaves or “infidel peoples” during the A.D. era.
Our Afrikan ancestors built the pyramids in the B.C. era. The B.C. era of our Afrikan ancestors accounts for 99.9 per cent of the history of Afrikan people on this planet while the A.D. era of our Afrikan forefathers only accounts for 0.1 per cent. This historical reality must be properly understood.
While this writer agrees with Dr. Williams that it is delusionary to believe “that T&T is an African society”, nevertheless, his message not only served to disunite and dislocate Afrikans in TnT but has also led to their multifaceted powerlessness. In addition, his message is replete with endemic historical contradictions in terms of the societal reality of TnT.
The fact of the matter is that TnT cannot claim to be a polyglot, multiracial/ethnic/cultural/religious society if Afrikans didn’t come from Mother Afrika, Indians didn’t come from Mother India, Chinese did not come from Mother China, Syrians did not come from Mother Syria, Lebanese did not come from Lebanon etc.
So for historian Dr. Williams to suggest that “there can be no Mother Syria or no Mother Lebanon” is just a blatant, typical Eurocentric notion that an individual should abandon his/her original, ancestral homeland. This is incongruity at its insane, ahistorical zenith. Maybe Dr. Williams had serious hidden problems with his Afrikanness.
The stark reality is that Afrikan peoples are the only ones who have been taught, miseducated and/or edjumacated to hate themselves and to be ashamed of their original, ancestral Afrikanness. In his independence message, Dr. Williams has not only compounded this Afrikan-Trinbagonian historical dislocation but has also posited more salt into their historical cultural amnesia wound. In typical Eurocentric modus operandi, Dr. Williams has successfully severed the umbilical cord between Mother Afrika and Afrikans in TnT.
The fact of the matter is that one wonders if the major Jewish organization in the United States, B’nai B’rith, were to dare tell Jewish-Americans that there can be no Mother Israel. Or if the Kennedy family were dare to tell Irish-Americans that there can be no Mother Ireland. Or if former U.S. Secretary of State, Dr. Henry Kissinger, were dare to tell German-Americans that there can be no Mother Germany.
If these actions were taken, proud Americans will immediately assign these leaders to the nearest qualified psychiatrist. They would consider such advice as sacrilegious and an overt, direct insult of their ancestral homeland.
All peoples are not only superbly proud of and pay homage to their ancestral motherland but also seek to remain psychologically tied to her 24/7/365; Afrikans in TnT are the only exception a la Dr. Eric Williams’ message.
As such, when there is a problem in Israel, the average Jewish-American feels the inner pain of his/her people because he/she is still tied to Mother Israel’s umbilical cord. He/she would be willing to go back to Mother Israel and fight, even die for his/her mother.
The reverse is not true in the case of the Afrikan-Trinbagonian thanks to the Eurocentric admonition of Dr. Williams. Whenever a problem occurs in Afrika, the average Afrikan-Trinbagonian couldn’t care less as a result of the severing of his/her maternal umbilical cord by Dr. Williams.
As a result of this dislocation and amnesia, the average Afrikan-Trinbagonian in TnT now prefers to be called “Afro”, “Negro”, “Redman” – any other name but Afrikan. And more deleterious, he/she displays an overt, potent, acerbic disdain for anything Afrikan.
Indeed, the Afrocentric, Afrikan-American psychologist, Dr. Na’im Akbar, once correctly concluded that “the problem with Afrikan people is that we have not yet recovered from the psychological impact of slavery.” In the specific case of TnT, Afrikan-Trinbagonians have not yet recovered from and overcome the detrimental and self-destructive psychological impact of Dr. Williams’ 1962 independence message.
Afrikan-Trinbagonians are the victims of historical ancestral incest inflicted upon them by Dr. Eric Williams, but more viciously, his message has imbued in them an irreversible syndrome of mental paralysis, Afrikan sclerosis, induced collective lobotomy, fratricide, and internecine madness.
And to add insult to injury, one finds that today’s anti-people PNM government under Patrick Manning has allocated millions of dollars for the erection of private denominational educational institutions to teach Indian history, culture and religion while conversely allocating millions of dollars for the “school pan programme” in the nation’s public schools.
Afrikan-Trinbagonians comprise the bulk of students in these schools. The severing of the Afrikan maternal umbilical cord continues unabated.
The fact of the matter is that the Sanatan Dharma Maha Sabha has never fallen for Dr. Williams’ ahistorical trap. Since 1952, this organization has been legally teaching the history, culture and religion of Mother India. There can be and is a Mother India for the Maha Sabha. Indian-Trinbagonians are educated and conditioned to be historically culturally located, tied and grounded in Mother India while Afrikan-Trinbagonians are systemically being historically culturally dislocated and uprooted from Mother Afrika.
The umbilical cord between Mother India and Indian-Trinbagonians has never been severed – it has always remained intact since 1845.
Hence, it need occasion no great surprise that Indian-Trinbagonians celebrate Indian Arrival Day while Afrikan-Trinbagonians celebrate Emancipation Day. It is also very poignant to observe that Indian-Trinbagonians do not celebrate Indentureship Day on 21 March – the date on which the British Parliament effectively abolished the Indian Indentureship System in 1917.
Indian Arrival Day is directly related/correlated/connected to Mother India and all the maternal power derived there from. Conversely, Afrikan Emancipation Day is directly divorced, dislocated and disconnected from Mother Afrika and the maternal powerlessness derived there from.
Unlike the leadership of the Maha Sabha, the leaders of the Emancipation Support Committee (ESC) sheepishly concur with Dr. Williams “that there can be no Mother Africa” in TnT. Hence, the raison d’etre why they and other Trinbagonians of similar ilk voluntarily resign themselves just to be one-ah-day Afrikans every 1st August – TnT’s third Carnival day.
As a result of Dr. Williams’ message, Afrikan-Trinbagonians are now brain-dead, brain damaged, culturally comatose and anesthesized.
The fact of the matter is that Pat Castagne would not have been able to insert “let every creed and race find an equal place” in TnT’s national anthem if there were not a Mother Afrika, Mother India, Mother China, Mother Syria, Mother Lebanon, Mother Portugal, Mother Corsica etc.
Mother Afrika’s emigrants became Afrikan-Trinbagonians, Mother India’s emigrants became Indian-Trinbagonians, Mother Syria’s emigrants have become Syrian-Trinbagonians, Mother China’s emigrants have become Chinese-Trinbagonians and so on.
Ergo, TnT did not give birth to these varied ethnic nationalities; their respective mothers did. Thus, diasporan, surrogate Mother TnT “cannot discriminate between her children.”
It is ridiculous and absurd for historian Dr. Williams to opine that “a nation, like an individual, can have only one mother.”
In the real world, an individual can have a biological mother as well as a surrogate mother also.
In the real world, Afrikan peoples have a double heritage, namely:
1.) Their ancestors, the world’s original powerful master thinkers/teachers, who not only built the pyramids and invented mathematics, medicine, astronomy, architecture, writing, chemistry etc, but also humanized, civilized and educated the powerless Greeks (world’s first Europeans) in ancient Kemet (Egypt) in the B.C. era (Originality).
2.) Their forefathers, who were brought involuntarily from Mother Afrika as powerless, defenceless nothing slaves to cut sugar cane, pick cotton etc. for their powerful European slave-masters on the plantations in the Diaspora in the A.D. era (Nationality).
Hence, it is no surprise that when an Indian-Trinbagonian entertainer sings Chutney, he/she sings in his/her original, inherited Mother India tongue (Originality) but when an Afrikan-Trinbagonian entertainer sings Calypso or soca, he/she sings in his/her imposed/indicted European slave-master’s tongue (Nationality).
In the spirit of Eurocentrism, then all Eurocentric scholars, including Dr. Williams, have consistently sought to deny Afrikan peoples of any sense of originality. And this xenophobic denial is blatantly manifested in Arthur de Gobineau’s “eulogy of the Aryan race” titled The Inequality of Human Races (1854), as follows:
“Such is the lesson of history. It shows that all civilizations derive from the White race, that none can exist without its help and that a society is great and brilliant only so far as it preserves the blood of the noble group that created it, provided that this group itself belongs to the illustrious branch of our species. No Negro (Afrikan) race is seen as the initiator of a civilization.”
The alternative, historically correct Afrika centered message to Dr. Williams is: Mother Afrika is our home, Mother TnT is our destination; Mother India is our home, Mother TnT is our destination and so on.
In sum, the legacy of Dr. Williams’ message is that Afrikan-Trinbagonians are the only ethnic group in TnT that is motherless, ancestorless and powerless.
In essence, the stark reality is that if the emigration of people did not take place from their respective mother country then TnT would have remained a dual society populated in the north by the original Kalinas (renamed Caribs by the Euro-Spanish) and in the south by the original lokonos (renamed Arawaks by the Euro-Spanish).
In other words, a people without a sense of their correct history are ill equipped to visualize and plan a future because of an unclear/distorted/miseducated/misdirected/detoured picture of their past. This not only dooms such a people to failure and permanent powerlessness but also guarantees their locus at the nadir and/or periphery of society. This is the sad, tragic plight of Afrikan-Trinbagonians in TnT today.
Shem Hotep (“I go in peace”).
Dr. Kwame Nantambu is a part-time lecturer at Cipriani College of Labour and Co-operative Studies and University of the West Indies.