Tag Archives: Raffique Shah

Fight, not cry for our beloved country

By Raffique Shah
September 19, 2022

Raffique ShahI cried for my country on the eve of Republic Day celebrations, this one marking the 47th year as a sovereign state. That graduation of sorts removed the Queen of England as our Head of State—a contradiction so many former British colonies cling to long after they became independent.

We did, too, but opted to shed the colonial shawl in 1976. Still, we retained a critical umbilical cord that leaves us clinging to Mother England, to the Privy Council as our final court of appeal. If that sounds jokey, think about the embarrassment that we have lived with for so many years.
Continue reading Fight, not cry for our beloved country

The Queen and I

By Raffique Shah
September 12, 2022

Raffique ShahIt’s incomprehensible that I, whose generation had every reason to dislike the British monarchy and wish for its early demise and for it to be replaced by something more modern, early in my life, became indifferent to the Windsors’ lingering presence as a symbol of Britain’s once inordinate prowess, and more than that, one woman’s mesmerising presence that defied all odds for almost 100 years.
Continue reading The Queen and I

Academic oasis

By Raffique Shah
September 05, 2022

Raffique ShahI was scanning the local television channels last Tuesday for any Independence-related special programming they might feature on the eve of the 60th anniversary, when I realised CCN TV6 was about to run live coverage of the formal opening of the Dr Eric Williams Memorial Library and museum in Port of Spain.

As the cameras panned the guests arriving for what was likely to be one of the feature events of the anniversary, I experienced a wave of nostalgia, memories of what seemed to have been many years ago when Erica Williams, daughter of the late prime minister of Trinidad and Tobago, first communicated with me about her project.
Continue reading Academic oasis

Show me your leader

By Raffique Shah
August 29, 2022

Raffique ShahIt’s not so much that we have little or nothing to celebrate on the 60th anniversary of our Independence from Britain, as so many who swear they are patriots, but whose patriotism swings with the pendulum of their political party’s fortunes, which almost always are linked to their personal fortunes.

It’s more that our democracy has been carved up into near-equal but uneven parts in such manner, to misquote Irish poet William Yeats in his near-prophetic masterpiece, “The Second Coming”, “…Things fall apart, the centre cannot hold; Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world/The blood-dimmed tide is loosed and everywhere/The ceremony of innocence is drowned/The best lack all conviction/While the worst/Are full of passionate intensity…”
Continue reading Show me your leader

Ten thousand-gun salute

By Raffique Shah
August 22, 2022

Raffique ShahA few weeks ago, my cousin Susheela forwarded to me an interesting piece of Internet trivia that was anything but trivial. The author had given that generations in recorded history had lived through the most exciting period, based on facts cited, that people now in their 60s and 70s, having been born in the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s, had enjoyed some of the most dramatic developments man has ever experienced.
Continue reading Ten thousand-gun salute

Finding African farmers

By Raffique Shah
August 15, 2022

Raffique ShahIt pains me whenever I feel it necessary to confront the race issue in my column. I see it as a waste of valuable column centimetres where those of us who have been selected by the managers and editors of newspapers to highlight and comment on matters of national importance instead find ourselves discussing drivel.

But there comes a time when columnists cannot ignore attempts by influential people in the society resorting to race, playing the race card when everything else fails them, in the hope that controversy might save them from oblivion, a fate politicians fear more than they do the hell-fire that is promised to believers and non-believers alike for the sinful lives they lead, convinced they are so clever, they can fool even the Creator.
Continue reading Finding African farmers

An unforgiving electorate

By Raffique Shah
August 08, 2022

Raffique ShahContinuing where I ended last Sunday, by the turn of the millennium and the century, the Opposition United National Congress had positioned itself to capitalise on the vulnerabilities of the People’s National Movement, which had been weakened by the mass movement of 1970 (Black Power) that was driven largely by the children and grandchildren of the PNM.
Continue reading An unforgiving electorate

Let’s try ah madman instead

By Raffique Shah
August 01, 2022

Raffique ShahI do not believe the people of Trinidad and Tobago, least of all those whose votes matter in a near-evenly-divided electorate, are ready for a leader who has the fortitude to take the resource-rich though now declining economy out of the cycles of poverty, stagnation and prosperity, to put it firmly on track such that it steers as close as is possible to an equitable distribution of its wealth—or suffering—and in the painful process deliver us from the evils of free-wheeling capitalism and neo-liberalism that coagulates into one of the filthy-rich, dirt-poor extremities that are imploding across the world, their populations equally stripped of all hope as ours is, the only difference being this time we go down with the ship since there are no alternative options.
Continue reading Let’s try ah madman instead

Circling like corbeaux

By Raffique Shah
July 25, 2022

Raffique ShahNothing defined the great dividing line in this country the way the Law Association lawyers’ motion to have Attorney General Reginald Armour resign from office did when it came before the legal fraternity two weeks ago.

As people with an iota of common sense will have noted, while there was an element of race in the proceedings, it was not the only, or even the main factor that drove the campaign to oust the AG. It was all political—a straight case of who in the profession supported the incumbent PNM Government, or who supported the Opposition UNC. The stench of politics in what can be said to have been a minor confrontation was overpowering.
Continue reading Circling like corbeaux

Fight…or die like cowards

Raffique Shah
July 18, 2022

Raffique ShahFor many readers, my recollections of “Shanty Town” and the “La Basse” in the 1950s-’60s stirred memories of another day, an era from which the society ought to have long evolved.

Others thought I exaggerated wildly in my description of corbeaux and half-naked boys wrestling over discarded meat. I wonder if I had added to creatures I saw foraging for food the biggest hogs I had lain eyes on among the “gladiators” in that putrid “gayelle” that was the “La Basse”, what they might have thought of me: a writer whose imagination had gone wild?
Continue reading Fight…or die like cowards