Category Archives: PNM

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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Time is unforgiving

By Raffique Shah
January 05, 2021

Raffique ShahFriends, Trinbagonians, countrymen, lend me your attention. I have decided to say here what I believe needs to be said at this perilous time in our nation’s history.

I have no desire to bury my country amidst the ruins of the Covid-19 pandemic and the punishing economic fallouts the virus has dealt us, which added misery to the politically-inflicted wounds. To the contrary, my hope is that many among you will heed my plea from the heart and rally to help save T&T. Let it not be said that in its hour of need, when this country stood at critical crossroads, crying out for help, for direction, that noble and patriotic citizens deserted the sinking ship of state like rats, seeking only to save their wretched lives and the loot they have stolen.
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King Imbert’s Court

By Dr Selwyn Cudjoe
December 28, 2020

Dr. Selwyn R. CudjoeTrinidad and Tobago became an independent country in 1962 and a republic in 1976, in which the people, through their representatives, were supposed to control their affairs.

Such a political arrangement sounded enticing since it promised to place the country’s destiny in the hands of people they knew, rather than foreigners (white) whom they did not know.
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A matter of trust

By Raffique Shah
December 14, 2020

Raffique ShahI must admit that as I monitored what was happening in the USA, the shenanigans of outgoing President Donald Trump as he sought first to defy, then later to subvert the electoral process, I all but ignored developments here at home. It was when I saw Afra Raymond, the fiercely independent activist who is also outspoken on issues of national importance, disassemble the controversial Public Procurement Amendment Bill and call on citizens to let their voices be heard, that I switched focus.
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Focus on T&T, not Trump

By Raffique Shah
November 23, 2020

Raffique Shah“…We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal…that they are endowed with certain unalienable rights…whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute a new government, laying its foundation on such principles, and organizing its powers…”

Like Samuel Johnson’s proverbial scoundrel who seeks refuge in patriotism, I fall back on the American declaration of independence, especially its “unalienable rights”, and in particular the right, nay, the civic duty it imposes on citizens, to rebel with force to remove a government that is trampling their rights.
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Periscope on Budget

By Raffique Shah
October 05 2020

Raffique ShahI am hopeful that Finance Minister Colm Imbert’s Budget 2021 will remain open to ideas that may come from ordinary citizens or professionals or anyone else even after he will have presented it to Parliament tomorrow. This is no ordinary Appropriation Bill. It is, or ought to be, an extraordinary document that contains the sum total of citizens’ prescriptions for rescuing and resuscitating an economy that has been battered and bruised by several governments over the past, say, forty years, and rendered semi-comatose by blows from the Covid-19 pandemic.
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An accidental MP

By Raffique Shah
September 29, 2020

Raffique ShahWhen I look back at it, my life that is, the many sharp, unpredictable turns I made that often intersected with the history of my country, I cannot help but feel fated to its destiny, inextricably linked to its history.

I ruminated on these occurrences over the past few days as the nation marked Republic Day, the 44th edition of what was a giant constitutional leap back in 1976. Interestingly, then, as this year, it was marked without the pomp and ceremony usually associated with such events. As I recall it, there was the swearing in of newly-elected members of the House of Representatives as well as senators, and maybe an address by Sir Ellis Clarke (I cannot remember), the first President of the Republic.
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Thinking Race/Understanding Color

By Dr Selwyn R. Cudjoe
September 21, 2020

“Nobody can be properly termed educated who knows little or nothing of the history of his own race and of his country.”

—Frederick Alexander Durham, The Lone-Star of Liberia.

Dr. Selwyn R. CudjoeIn his epoch-breaking work Capitalism and Slavery, Eric Williams noted that racism is a product of slavery. “The reason,” he says “was economic, not racial; it had to do not with the color of the labor, but the cheapness of the labor.” On the other hand, in White Over Black, Winthrop Jordan argued that racism predated slavery, citing three distinct prejudices that conditioned the English responses to Africans: our blackness, which signified filth, sin and evil; being uncivilized; and our not being Christian.
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Budget by everyone, for everyone

By Raffique Shah
September 15, 2020

Raffique ShahI imagine that every citizen who is conscious of the state of the country’s economy must wonder what magic Finance Minister Colm Imbert will weave when he presents his sixth consecutive Budget in a few weeks. The economy was already battered and bruised by plummeting oil and gas prices and struggling production levels when Covid-19 entered the picture and added to its grimness. The deadly virus savaged economies around the world, bringing many countries to their knees, leaving behind scenes that seemed to be apparitions of Armageddon.
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A new beginning

By Raffique Shah
September 01, 2020

Raffique ShahIt came to pass in this not-so-blessed year 2020, that persons of far greater faith than I can imagine, convinced that God, in whatever manifestation they believed Him to be, was signalling the end of an era, epoch, curse, call it what you will, signing off on the old with pandemic flourish, and simultaneously setting the stage for the launch of a new beginning, an opportunity to wipe the slate clean and start afresh.

You of little faith may ask, with justification, how can we start afresh, encumbered as we are with an abundance of old geezers in pivotal positions? Voices will sing out from the heavens above: let them be! They have seen hell on Earth. Give them an opportunity to redeem themselves, to distinguish right from wrong, and offer solutions to the many troubled problems they and their kind have left us to resolve.
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