The Enigma of Arrival
Posted: Monday, June 14, 2004
By Stephen Kangal
I take serious umbrage with my former Caroni brother, Clive Nunez lecturing us Indians what aspects of our socio-political history we should or should not celebrate (Probe June 6, p.9). That is going places where angels fear to tread.
His article exemplifies and is symptomatic of the traditional Afro-centric frame of reference with which our African brothers view us Indians and by extension the enigmatic manifestations of our culture and our arrival. They arrogate the right to proceed to tell us what is good for us. Please respect us! We reserve the exclusive right to define our priorities and practices for ourselves in our own "leela" to carve our own socio-economic and religio-cultural space in Dharti Mai T&T.
Clive will recall the lack of credibility that underpinned and followed the 1970 Black Power Banner:
Indians and Africans Unite!
After this the most vicious acts of victimisation were visited on Indians by the regime of the late Dr. Williams in the public sector with Black Power acquiescence. Since then I learnt to screen very carefully whatever pronouncements my Afro-brothers issue on Indian questions. I was part of the Black Power March when it passed through Caroni.
The celebration of Indian Arrival Day (IAD) is not only the positive celebration of life. It is also powerfully indicative of our genuine and deep commitment to Dharti Mai Trinbago. We do not hark back to the past inhumanity of indentureship, colonialism and slavery. That is in the hands of Karma and the Divine and He does not need our support to dispense justice. That is also introducing unnecessary negative drag effects that are inimical to our jihad and crusade to transform our physical and mental adversities into success- our moving from indentureship to entrepreneurship and empowerment.
Consider the philosophical/religious undertones of the lyrics of the Pichakaree song composed by Raviji on the occasion of the observance of the 150th Anniversary of Indian Arrival in 1995. It was sung by Mrs Seeromanie Maharaj-Naraynsingh:
"There is a mystery behind indenture history
Haa Sahaib take we, from the ancient country.
Beyond Kaalaapani, only half the story
But a secret voice was singing that they need you
So ah sending you.
Ja ah sending you on a mission to the Caribbean"
IAD testifies and pays tribute to the sacrifices made by our Pitris after having been deceived to leave Uttar Pradesh and Bihar and survived the rigours of the "kalaa pani" so that we their children can have an abundant life today. Our Pitris were vectors of an ancient and supreme cultural legacy and civilisation that we have maintained and embellished to date in its originality and purity. This legacy has been preserved in the face of inhumane British, Catholic and Anglican neglect and exacerbated by the alienation and the marginalisation perpetrated by the successor Black Nationalist Movement that relegated us to a life of second class citizenry against which we have finally triumphed and arrived.
The alternative to IAD was a life of congenital penury and isolation in the backyards and rural fringes of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar including in the still inaccessible village of Lakshmanpour from whence the ancestors of former PM Panday came. Our success today has served as a palliative to temper the atrocities and inhumanities of the British who were no different from the cruel and exacting zamindars of UP and Bihar. They virtually enslaved our pitris and subjected them to the viciousness/inhumanities of the Hindu caste system from which they were escaping en route to the Caribbean via Calcuttia and the Fath el Razack. They were going to chalay chinee in Chinidad even though it took them a little longer to realise this dream.
Indians by culture do not look backwards. They do not attempt to claim reparation for past atrocities or to pour venom on Massa to foster and promote a political agenda. The observance of the end of indentureship will provide such a historically correct platform that will keep us back from going forward into nirvana. We might be forced unwillingly to show how we exchanged white economic indentureship for black political and social indentureship and therefore 1 January 1917 did not in fact end our life of indentureship. Some may even conclude that Panday has taken us back along the path and consigned us to a parlous state of permanent political indentureship from which we cannot recover owing to the house padding taking place in the crucial marginal constituencies.
It is to be noted that while coming from an agricultural background, we celebrate our arrival on the cane-fields of Caroni on 30 May 1845 our Afro-brothers commemorate their departure in 1834. We have no problem with that. We will be considered farse and out of place to try to define and dictate social and historical priorities and strategies for our Afro- brothers and sisters to follow.
For us the land was Dharti Mai. Land, labour, capital, our religion and our value system are what powered us to sustainable prosperity and to become a property owning class.
That is the kahani bhaiyo Clive for IAD. We have arrived!
We have sown good sanskaar in every parivaar in Caroni and charhawaid jaal to Dharti Maata Trinbago that is now our own Ayodha. We have no time for hate and neemakharamism and blaming every Tom, Dick and Harrylal for our misfortunes imaginary and real.
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