Don’t Mourn for La Borde Now

lettersTHE EDITOR: Last weekend I looked at a photo of Coast Guard ratings bearing the body of Harold La Borde and wondered if I was the only one who felt it was just a shallow, hypocritical charade.

I mean it’s not like the La Borde’s amazing achievements of sailing around the globe in a litte yacht he built right here meant anything. In other countries – y’know, those where self-contempt does not run as deep as it does here – what Harold, Kwailan and Pierre La Borde did would have been held up as models of inspiration for fellow countrymen and women. There was so much they did that spoke to the power of imagination and perseverance.

However, in this lovely 2×4 country as one radio personality kindly describes here – and a dung beetle paradise as another one does – it’s different. Everything you need to know about how we view our historical accomplishments and personalities is answered by just looking at the rotting hull on South Quay that used to be the La Borde’s vessel (insert Grey Friar’s Church, CLR James’ homes, the Magnificent Seven…….)

In fact, the very Coast Guard, that was given the task of bearing his remains, created history and was mentioned in the prestigious military journal Jane’s when in 1965 the HMTS Trinity and Courland Bay crossed the Atlantic from England. This was repeated with the crossings of the HMTS Chaguaramas and Buccoo Reef, the TTS Casacadura and Barracuda and the ‘Point-class’ vessels. Are any of them in the water still? Well, yes, technically. Some are artificial reefs in the Gulf of Paria while others sold off as scrap iron. Yet some years ago I walked all over Admiral Nelson’s flagship on which he was killed in 1805, looked at the famous Studio One in Jamaica and a reconstruction of a WWII Halifax bomber in Trenton, Canada.

What bothers me is not the indifference of many of those who will read this, but my own lack of anger towards them. I just eh expect nothing better from many of our educated elites and corporate parasites. Heather Macintosh told us nothing doh be good in Trinbago till some foreigner say so but Harry Belafonte and Pete Seeger did just that with our kasio and pan respectively and what difference did that make? Just last weekend, a newspaper cut and pasted (I assume) an article on the death of the Jamaican co-founder of Notting Hill Carnival…….not ONE word about radical activist Claudia Jones who also co-founded it and who was born right here.

Trinbago is by no means marginal in the maritime and aviation history of the world but say wha, more thing for Valentino, Stalin and Helon Francis to sing about. God help we when Angelo Bissessarsingh throw in the towel.

Corey Gilkes

3 Responses to “Don’t Mourn for La Borde Now”


  • I can tell you from my own heart based on my achievements as a Chemical engineer working my heart out to fix, maintain and keep online The Fedchem plants here in Savonetta Trinidad from 1977 – 2006, starting with Kellogg, Fertiliser – Product Handling, Chemico, Braun now Hydro Plant,Tringen 1 and Tringen 11 for 30 plus long years where I nearly died on many occasions and was medically boarded, spit on, and scorned ….that sir it is not only Harold and his group that are scorned, slighted, forgotten, envied, hated, etc… it is many of us. As a very mixed person of Trinidad origin in the 50s to 2008, and by extension in the industry where you had Indian massa on one side. African massa on the other side, The French Creole bourge bosses who looked down on you, the fair skinned Texaco elite that started Fedchem (Alroy Pariag was just black but schooled white) and above them The English and then The USA crowd in Don Snipes, Costas Throuros etc and of course the dunsee politicians. And facing a White Boss Fedchem – Peter Grace motto that ” you the bosses must suffer them (we) until they (we) leave or pay attention or fall” in your own country and them…placed there by uneducated, bulldogish, racial foreigners (who come here for pure profit of any kind) living like KINGS in our country introducing guinea pig engineering and running the plants at over max safety conditions …as their plants run at on stream time factors way below international norms and you have to accept this for over 28 years leading ONCALL groups of workers to keep the plants online outside normal work hours with little help or else your job and mortgaged house are gone forever. Hence it does not surprise me that our industry has come to nought. There is a God. As the Father of the nation once said … one from 10 leaves nought. In 1975 he sent his troops to Canada to ask us in the 70s to come back home with our BASc to jump start Point Lisas. It did not take me long to find out he was not talking to all of us. Perhaps I was considered one of the Recalcitrant Minority. I did get tossed around depending on who was in power at the time. When you are mixed you have no say in your country. But I did come back home as I missed my small pin sized country. I got fed up with foreigners outside Trinidad who considered us dregs in the huge ocean and Trinis who are quick to disown us outside the Caribbean. Of course he, Eric Williams said that in another context. So sir, you can big up Harold but you must know some of us; who are still on the planet, has had our share of life in T&T with no recognition, no gain, no promotion, no salary increase of any worth, no other opportunity but the one job we were interviewed for ( almost everybody would ask me over the 30 years on the job who was your contact or who pulled the string for you ). I would quietly say to myself – God did. I love my country and only fully appreciated it recently learning french in Quebec as it showed me like in Montreal what the French Catholics did for Trinidad. In our culture, in our foods as inbuljawl or brulle gueule as just one of many oothers the french left their mark….also Jouvert, Dimanche Gras etc. The Brits simply could not handle us so they brought in the French to culturise us….the costumes in our Carnival is other example as are many others etc. So to reply to your article…I praise you for biging up Harold but in the very big picture of things we do not appreciate many of our own who had achieved save ONLY the ones we choose to for our own personal gain. It is our continued failing moments. That is why we continue to be stuck in the mud and cannot ever progress. I used to ponder regularly the statements the ole people left us with over the years. One of them was we were all in Trinidad brushed with the tar brush so we are all marked by God to be one. However we have no real history of where we came and what those gone a long time ago experienced so we will have no real present (more of the same ole) and of course there we will have no future. Harold’s experience is just one needle in a huge hay stack of life experiences that we should learn from.

    • Sounds like u had a really hard life JCH.

      • Yeah where you can pull string; I had to sweat like hell and never got recognized because of my roots. We still live in a jungle in T&T. We need to remove the jungle attitude from our forward movements. The PM now says no one wants to serve on State Boards. Why because they, board members have to suck up to the boss man and when things go wrong their reputation is on the line for attacks from all comers; they become the scape goats . Who is Rowley really trying to fool? Perhaps it is PNM party and rank and file audience he is appealing to. FH of Petrotrin and MJ never achieved anything of worth in their career lives despite their important papers and friends. They ran key areas of the industry of T&T and accomplished nothing from Hydro Agri, Tringen 1, Tringen 11, Atlas, Titan, NGC, Pheonix Park, Petrotrin, Powergen etc. Yes ,they held very important positions, gave big jobs to their friends and brought endless debt servicing to bear down on our treasury monies – our hard fought taxed income. The more the country suffers the more the poor that we are, is asked to withstand the pains. Keith YOU ARE FOOLING NO ONE BY YOUR ROBBER TALK. SO GET WITH IT AND BE AN OBAMA TYPE PM. WALK YOUR ELECTION PLATFORM TALK. MJ CANNOT HELP YOU.

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