Tag Archives: Selwyn R. Cudjoe

Decentering Dr Williams: debasing the PNM

By Dr Selwyn R. Cudjoe
September 20, 2021

PART III

Dr. Selwyn R. CudjoeOn January 29, 2011, I delivered a lecture on the pitfalls of multiculturalism, at a Multiculturalism Conference at Gaston Court, Chaguanas. It was sponsored by GOPIO (T&T), the leading purveyor of Indian culture, when then-PM Kamla Persad-Bissessar introduced her cultural policy to engender greater equity within the society.
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Decentering Dr. Williams— Denigrating the PNM

By Dr Selwyn R. Cudjoe
September 14, 2021

PART II

The UNC represents the true spirit of Trinidad and Tobago,… all the poor, humble working people, farmers, small business owners, ordinary men and women, from north to south, east, west, central, the urban, the suburban, the rural, the swampland, the coastal, and floodplains, the hills and the lagoons.

—Kirk Meighoo, The Checklist (2021)

Dr. Selwyn R. CudjoeIf V. S. Naipaul was Kirk Meighoo’s intellectual guru initially, he later turned to Lloyd Best for intellectual guidance and direction. Since a “half-made society” (a term that Naipaul used disparagingly) is a literary conceit it could not bear the sociological weight that Meighoo thrust upon it. Meighoo argued that Politics in a Half-Made Society (hereafter Politics) was “a slight reworking” of his doctoral dissertation. This led Anton L. Allahar, professor emeritus at the University of Western Ontario, to write: “I have never seen a doctoral dissertation in the social sciences that was devoid of a theoretical perspective and a clear statement of methodology.” (Caribbean Studies, 2005).
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Decentering Dr. Williams; Denigrating the PNM

By Dr Selwyn R. Cudjoe
September 05, 2021

PART I

“Ethnic mobilization [in Trinidad and Tobago] is the result of national political impotence, not its cause. Such parties, without any firm, rooted principles, provide no basis for political solidarity….These loose ethnic solidarities arise from the safe cliques by which citizens organize themselves in this half-made society.”

—Kirk Meighoo, “Ethnic Mobilisation vs. Ethnic Politics,”

Dr. Selwyn R. CudjoeDr. Kirk Meighoo is one of our better scholars. I have followed his academic progress since he was a student at the University of the West Indies. In his well-researched book Politics in a Half-Made Society (2003), he argued that societies such as T&T “have not yet established enduring, meaningful standards of their own. They are societies still in formation and unmade, without a firm foundation (intellectual, cultural, political, military, and/or economic), and in which solidity is elusive.” Although I disagree with his central thesis (taken from the work of Vidia Naipaul whom he calls one of T&T’s “great philosophers”) I still think his book is a worthwhile read.
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The Passing of the Pointer Man

By Dr Selwyn R. Cudjoe
August 31, 2021

PART 3

“Pointerman/The crossroad is self…./ seek the source of rivers/ begin here, in your hands, begin/each beginning,/new beginnings/ like vertiginous sacraments of water/ begin at the navel’s resolve, new/ incarnate flower.”

—LeRoy Clarke, Douens: Poems and Drawings

Dr. Selwyn R. CudjoePainting was LeRoy Clarke’s true forte, but he was equally adept at poetry. In Parables of Joyless Days, Clarke described himself as “The Poet Who Paints With Words.” In 1981, he shocked our sensibilities when he cried: “Carpenter, shoemaker, dancer, wirebender,/ let me be the Artist—Poet—Farmer./ I will fork this earth, with my tongue/ let me plunge into your ear/ through syllables of violet, the science of turquoise, / through populous ochres and energetic reds/ through fathomless greens, through supplicant blue, / through the arterial vegetation of the rainbow” (Douens).
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The Passing of the Pointer Man

By Dr Selwyn R. Cudjoe
August 23, 2021

PART 2

EL TUCUCHE can be made the symbol of our greatest achievements—it is graced with the sovereignty that represents our transcendent power over Douendom where we are still held in disarray and ignorance. Above all, is Aripo, symbolically, the Eye am that Eye am, the one God in whose house there are many mansions, and to which many are the paths!

—LeRoy Clarke, Parables of Our Joyless Days

Dr. Selwyn R. CudjoeIn the 1950s a modern phase of T&T’s artistic development revealed itself in the paintings of M. P. Alladin, Geoffrey and Boscoe Holder, Leo Basso, Alfred Codallo, and Carlisle Chang. In “Painting in Trinidad and Tobago,” Pat Bishop declared: “These painters were not merely taking the brave step of painting in black face but were also prepared to participate in the modification or destruction of traditional image making.”
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The Passing of the Pointer Man

By Dr Selwyn R. Cudjoe
August 16, 2021

PART 1

“I maintain that art at its best reveals to us the fullness of what it means to be human.”

—Ben Okri, The Theatre Diaries

Dr. Selwyn R. CudjoeNo creative personality writes, paints or sculpts outside of his/her time and place. Necessarily a product of his history and his geography, s/he always tries to cast a light on the perils that confront his people. In so doing, s/he reflects on the truths and failings of humanity as well. LeRoy Clarke, our master-blaster, resided in that elevated region of greatness. He took on the persona “The Eye” to illuminate the perils that confronted his nation. In the words of our Orisha devotees, he was a Seer (he would have said Obeah) man, who strove assiduously to illumine the darkness that enveloped his people.
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Encounter with The Maestro

By Raffique Shah
August 16, 2021

Raffique ShahI was dreaming of the din that has developed over vaccination—to vaccinate or not?—which of the vaccines is acceptable, which is not?—an unholy row that is international in its reach, with the Internet offering a global platform to everyone who must have his say—when an apparition of Cecil Hume, stage name The Maestro, blotted out everything else, crooning in his high-pitched voice the near-comical lyrics of his masterful calypso, ‘Mr Trinidad’.
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GLORIOUS DAYS OF THE HAPPY AND THE FREE

By Dr Selwyn R. Cudjoe
August 09, 2021

PART II

“Pas de six ans, Point de six ans!” (“No to Six Years. No more six years!”)

—The chant of the ex-slaves on Emancipation Day

Dr. Selwyn R. CudjoeMore apprentices came to Government House on Saturday, August 2, to assert their freedom. There was “a visible increase of insolence in the behaviour of the Negroes. The muster around Government House continued, and His Excellency again attempted to persuade them to return to their work, but his efforts were fruitless. They first laughed at, and then hooted [we would say heckled] him” (PoS Gazette, August 5, 1834).
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Glorious day(s) of the happy and the free

By Dr Selwyn R. Cudjoe
August 01, 2021

PART 1

The masters were “dam tief”, the Governor an “old rogue”, and the King not such a fool as to buy them half free when he was rich enough to pay for them altogether.

—Port of Spain Gazette, August 5, 1834

Dr. Selwyn R. CudjoeToday is Emancipation Day. Ashton Ford, one of our respected elders, remembers the impetus that led former prime minister George Chambers to change the Discovery Day holiday (a day that recognised the misdeeds of our oppressors) to Emancipation Day that honours the achievements of our ancestors.

Chambers believed if you named your streets and monuments after local patriots, you encouraged a sense of nationhood and strengthened national identity among the population.
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Honorable Lives / Forgotten Worlds

By Dr Selwyn R. Cudjoe
July 26, 2021

By the rivers of Babylon/Where we sat down/And there we wept/When we remembered Zion.

But the wicked carried us away in captivity/Required from us a song/How can we sing King Alpha song/ In a strange land?

—Jimmy Cliff, “Rivers of Babylon”

Dr. Selwyn R. CudjoeTwo Fridays ago Brian Lehrer interviewed me on his radio show on WNYC (New York) about Jamaica’s most recent petition to Britain for $10.5 billion (US) in reparation for the damage done to our people during slavery. I informed Lehrer that Jamaicans have been battling Spain and Britain for the control of their lives and the product of their labor ever since those two countries enslaved and later colonized their country.
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