Category Archives: Culture

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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Saying Yes, Sometimes

By Dr Selwyn R. Cudjoe
July 04, 2021

Dr. Selwyn R. CudjoeThe condemnations came fast and furious. U.S. actor Michael B. Jordan, it seems, was farse and outaplace to name his new rum J’Ouvert and equally outatiming to set the label of his product on a box that included “a schematic of the islands of Trinidad and Tobago, plus a written reference to Trinidad and to J’Ouvert as a local celebration of emancipation and carnival” (Newsday, June 21).

One Trini woman mused: “We look for that. This is what happens when we are constantly ambivalent about our culture, largely ignore its historical, spiritual and ideological significance” (Newsday, June 21).
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Bernard Yawching defends book accusing UNC, Hindus of racist agenda

By Julien Neaves
March 17, 2021 – newsday.co.tt

Bernard YawchingPOLITICAL and social activist Bernard Yawching said he expects backlash over his book The Hidden Agenda of Race Relations in Trinidad and Tobago.

The new book accuses the United National Congress (UNC), the Sanatan Dharma Maha Sabha (SDMS), and some members of the Hindu community and the East Indian community of promoting a racist agenda. It tracks events from a 1913 speech by former Arima Mayor FEM Hosein about Africans not being as productive as Indians to more modern-day controversies such as Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar describing the Prime Minister as an “oreo.”
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Remove these shackles

By Raffique Shah
March 08, 2021

Raffique ShahIf a brush with death is said to prompt man to reflect more deeply on life, then the Covid-19 pandemic that swooped down on mankind last year, cutting a path of death and destruction such as we had never seen in our lifetime, has also triggered deep thinking on the social contracts that exist among governments and the governed, on how societies are structured to sustain inequality, and on altering such arrangements, replacing them with more equitable alternatives.
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A More Reflective Society

By Dr Selwyn Cudjoe
January 05, 2021

“So Trinidad was and remains a materialist immigrant society, continually growing and changing, never settling into any pattern, always retaining the atmosphere of the camp… [This explains] its special character, its ebullience and irresponsibility… an indifference to virtue as well as to vice.”

—VS Naipaul, The Middle Passage

Dr. Selwyn R. CudjoeIn 1960 Eric Williams, premier of Trinidad and Tobago (T&T), suggested to VS Naipaul, one of our premier writers, that he write a non-fiction book about the West Indies that the T&T government would support financially. Williams assured Naipaul he “could write about any aspect of the region and visit whatever territories [he] wished” to accomplish his objectives.
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The Potency of the Word

By Dr Selwyn R. Cudjoe
December 15, 2020

Dr. Selwyn R. CudjoeThe savage murder of Ashanti Riley touched many of us. It led us to reflect upon the kind of society we have created and the citizens (social beings) we are cultivating. Ashanti’s murder led the prime minister to talk about “the monsters” we are cultivating within our midst. Phyllis Bruce, another mother whose Black son vanished on March 19, sympathized with Ashanti’s mother in her grief: “Even from one mother to another, I can’t find the words to comfort her. But I would say to her, be strong. Hold on. Keep courage” (Express, December 11).
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Opportunities lost

By Raffique Shah
September 07, 2020

Raffique ShahEarly morning Independence Day. I switch on the television, remembering that there would be no military parade this year, thanks to Covid-19, the Great Destroyer. So what is there to watch? On CNC3, I catch the last few words of the Prime Minister—rerun of an interview he’d done with Natalee Ligoure a few days ago. Then the host excitedly introduces 2020 Panorama champions, Desperadoes—their winning performance on Carnival Saturday night.
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Kaiso ’til yuh puke

By Raffique Shah
February 25, 2020

Raffique ShahI was pleasantly surprised by the quality of many calypsoes I heard during the first half of the Calypso Monarch finals last Thursday night. My self-regulated sleeping hours did not permit me to take in the second half, which I’m sure was better. But based on the performances I watched and listened to, I can safely say that calypso is on the rebound, albeit slowly. For this, we need to thank the young bards who have decided to stay with traditional calypso even if they sometimes venture into the soca arena to share in its rich rewards.
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Puttin’ Yo Self in People Mouth

By Dr Selwyn R. Cudjoe
February 18, 2020

Dr. Selwyn R. CudjoeJudith Reyes is my neighbor. Our parents lived in the same spot for over eighty years. Neighbors thought our mothers were sisters. Judith’s brother Giles and I live like brothers. We have never quarreled with each other.

Every morning when I am in Trinidad Judith sends me a cup of porridge with prunes in it. She makes it clear that she is not doing that for me. Rather, she is doing this for my mother who she reminds me was my protector. She says: “Yo’ know how much candles yo’ mother light for you at Mt. St. Benedict?”
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