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From Independence to Nationhood
Posted: Thursday, August 29, 2002

By Stephen Kangal

During the past four decades we have as Trinbagonians together traversed an eventful and historic road. That journey commenced with the symbolic severing of the umbilical chord that conjoined us to monarchial Rule Britannia. The genuine reservations harbored by sections of our cosmopolitanism in the prologue to this seminal occasion in our history soon dissipated in the face of our manifested sovereign right to determine and chart our collective and evolving national destiny. This progression to nationhood that is being partly driven by the monetisation of our abundant physical and human endowment must redound to the equitable benefit of all Trinbagonians

Our birth to nationhood in 1962 was spawned by a colonised Third World being roused from political marginalisation by ascendant emancipatory nationalism and founded on the inalienable right of all colonial peoples to self-determination and independence.

After 40 years, T&T has, in the contemporary era, progressed to playing its part in shaping a fundamentally reconstituted, and evolving international economic and political paradigm.

This is not only the age of Aquarius. We have ascended inexorably unto the new of plateau of globalization signaling the progressive decline of the traditional concept of the nation-state being succeeded by functionalism, interdependency and economic federalism.

The days of flaunting our cosmetic national sovereignty that constituted such a compelling priority in the Third World of the 60s and 70s are numbered. In its place T&T has to meet and beat the challenges spawned by a 21st Century, globalised village and border-less world in which private sector driven capitalism has overwhelmed the tenets of welfare-oriented state capitalism/socialism. This is also the era of informatics linking a virtual paperless, cash-less, centrally and self-regulated, plastic-funded market place. T&T cannot opt out of this brave new nascent utopia.

In the face of this dynamic, evolving scenario we have as a plural people continued to show-case our harmonious co-existence that constitutes a paradigm for other unstable cosmopolitan societies.

The divine, irrespective of the harshness and inhumanity that presided over our trans-Atlantic Caribbean- bound pilgrimage brought us together to dwell in unity in one of his/her most luscious, well-endowed, idyllic, turquoise Caribbean vineyards. In T&T calling the Divine is a local call.

Accordingly we have, as a people progressed to the threshold of political maturity, fine- tuned our native entrepreneurial and athletic skills and transformed our physical landscape/endowment. We have harnessed our innate creative cultural drives to evolve a cosmopolitan Caribbean sanctuary of togetherness empowered by exponential prosperity.

T&T since 1962 has exhibited a varied quantum of cosmopolitan richness endemic in our unique, inimitable genre of Caribbean diplomacy conducted on the world stage and which is way out of proportion to our small size. I pay homage to the innate drive and unbridled vitality that empowers our peoples to excel in several fields of competitive endeavours.

This predilection underlying our multiculturism to innovate, to re-tool, re-engineer and adapt is limitless and unpredictable. Our penchant for invoking humour in the face of the most trying and challenging circumstances has been celebrated on the local stage with international approbation

In 1986 we dramatically abandoned the yoke of adversarial bi-polarization championing the advent of ONE LOVE. We as a united people effected a qualitative leap into a new political watershed. In 1996-2000 we celebrated the tenets of inclusion, national unity and the politics of accommodation.

In 2001 the enigmatic T&T- electorate telegraphed a coded message rejecting the historical shackles of the Westminster paradigm of the winner- take- all and based on a constitutionalised dictatorship. The substitution of co-operation, power sharing and the rejection of adversarial -based governance in plural T&T was ignored. Some confused that message with ethnic polarisation.

The calculated response to this telegraphed electoral message unfortunately had the effect of relegating us back politically to the sterile, monopolistic, discriminatory-based era of the 50 and 60s as alluded to by former President Clarke in his last Sunday Guardian interview. In effect it derailed, albeit temporarily, our divine-guided, missionary journey geared to building and forging real nationhood.

After hitherto travelling 40 years to political maturation we are now saddled with an 18-18 scenario which to all intents and purposes has neutralized and suspended fundamental constitutional checks and balances as well as the collective wisdom immanent in a functioning parliamentary-based democracy. Public- spirited citizens are now forced to seek legal redress to enforce democracy. Where has our independence reached?

Have we benefited and learnt from the cumulative political experiences derived from our transformation from a monarchial to our Republican status during our last 40 years? Have we really translated the underpinnings of our political independence into the ideals of integrative nationhood?

This is the jihad that we have to prosecute together as one people! One nation! Ours is to aspire and achieve in forging unity out of multicultural diversity to enter the portals of Satya Yuga and abandon Kali Yuga.

T&T must evolve a new political culture- a new political paradigm- a new janaam in which all legitimate interest groups are fairly treated and enjoy unrestricted access to equality of opportunities. Instead of the invisible hand we have to benefit from the guided hand and an interventionist strategy to increase levels of equity and justice to make all feel that they have a stake in the prosperous vineyard of Trinbago. The alternative is too frightful to contemplate.

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