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Confusing Diversity with Divisiveness
Posted: Tuesday, September 14, 2004

By Stephen Kangal

Hitherto the much-anticipated, outstanding contributions of Senior Citizen, Elder statesman/publicist Martin Kavanagh to the editorial excellence of the Newsday remains unchallenged. Without intending to diminish this tribute, I refer to his letter headlined "TT, largest insane asylum?" (Newsday Aug.4, p.11) that may have fallen short of his traditional erudition. After all of 81 years, my brother writer is still human.

May suggest that what he mistakenly calls "fragmentation by racial divisions" is really ethno-cultural diversity. In fact diversity is fast emerging as the common distinguishing feature in more than two-thirds of the member countries of the international community. This is the net effect of, inter alia, globalisation, South- North immigration, the brain drain and integration/free trade movements.

There can be nothing negative about the existence of the divine-inspired diversity in cosmopolitan T&T. T&T is a community of citizens (the liberal view) as well as a community of communities (pluralist view) welded together by the amalgam of Unity in Diversity, cultural pluralism and loyalty first and foremost to Dharti Mai T&T.

Like Minister Valley publicist Kavanagh may be confusing diversity with divisiveness and may not be able to distinguish between one’s nationality/citizenship on the one hand and ancestral roots/religion/cultural heritage or genetic persistence. Accordingly he arrives at several misleading conclusions on race, identity, nationality and imaginary lack of patriotism to T&T.

As for Dr. Capildeo he had no influence over Indo-Trinbagonians’ pre- and post-1962 continued preservation of their diasporic cultural, religious and ancestral links with Indian civilisation as did the local anglo-plantocracy with Rule Britannia. In defence of the late Dr.Williams he categorically stated in 1962: "There can be no Mother Africa, there can be no Mother India. The only mother…is Mother T&T."

Accordingly Sino-Indo-Afro-Anglo Trinbagonians do not currently harbour political/nationality loyalties to foreign countries such as India, Africa or Britain even though we have persistent cultural ties with our ancestral civilisation. We remain always conjoined irrevocably to Mother T&T by the strong underpinnings of the territorial imperative. Trinbagonians are not even remotely thinking of returning to Uttar Pradesh/Bihar, any country in Africa or to London. Their "flight" response to kidnappings/immigration patterns is focussed on metropolitan Miami/Toronto/New York.

T&T "… is not already fragmented beyond repair". A growing list of multicultural, diversity-based society worldwide has successfully adopted legal and institutional mechanisms supported by policies, programmes and priorities to manage and transform diversity beneficial to their national interest and development. Even homogenous democratic societies suffer from internal differences and instability.

The innovative concept of the exclusive Imranian Muslim Village must be discouraged having regard to the current occurrence of Islamic States worldwide that are based on a regimented Islamic Code of Conduct and extreme Muslim fundamentalism beliefs. However the proposed Muslim village concept cannot and must not be discredited by exaggerating and distorting established facets of the prevailing socio- political landscape in T&T. Diversity does not spawn insanity. Ethno- nationalism may.

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