Contradictions & Counterfactuals – Pt 2

By Dr Selwyn R. Cudjoe
February 13, 2018

“…a state could never have been born without surplus.” —Yanis Varoufakis


Dr. Selwyn R. CudjoeIn the nineteenth century Trinidad saw the first massive giveaway of lands and bonuses to the Indians in lieu of their passages to India. Those options were never available to Africans. This was the first step in the systematic dispossession of Africans in the land to which they had been brought. Few of us seem to remember it.

Fast-forward to one hundred and thirty years (around the year 2003) when a PNM government engineered another massive giveaway of lands, which is taking place in front of our eyes under the faulty premise that Indians had the first preference because they farmed the lands. This was/is strange logic since these lands belong to all nationals.

Proletarianized Africans of the twentieth century who worked on the Port of Spain docks did not receive similar favors when they were retrenched in 1973, 1983, and 1993 respectively under a PNM government. They were left to fare for themselves. These are the same people who Persad says Dr. Williams spent his life trying to make into a local middle and upper classes. Today they enjoy neither middle nor upper class status.

This leads me to ask Ralph and Kamal how we can overcome “this debilitating ethnic trap” when neither is willing to acknowledge the generosity of successive PNM governments they have grown to hate so much. No matter what Clarence Rambharat, Minister of Agriculture, says, Indians will never give up these lands nor can he reverse the historic advantages they received under the English colonizers and well-meaning but misguided PNM governments.

In the 1960s, Eric Williams and the PNM fought mercilessly to have the Chaguaramas land returned to the country for the benefit of all of its citizens. In his first act of statesmanship he distributed 22,000 acres of those lands to African and Indian farmers in places such as Waller Field, Cumoto and Carson Field. Ferdie Fereira noted: “All citizens across the racial, ethnic or religious divide south of the Caroni river…[were] beneficiaries of successive PNM governments’ national development programmes since 1956” (Personal Encounters).

Patrick Manning gave out another 14,492 acres of land to Caroni workers (read mainly Indian workers) as if to prove he was not a racist. As we speak, a PNM government is in the process of giving away the Chaguaramas lands to the Syrians for peanut rents, under a yet-to-be announced rationale.

The dispossession of Africans continues although they were here before all the newcomers who arrived after them. Yet, Persad has the gall to say Cudjoe, Keith Subero and Theodore Lewis “are doing more damage to their community by making its members more dependent on the State for jobs, houses, scholarships, food grants, etc. Subero and others should instead teach blacks about the value of sacrifice, education, self-reliance, industry, hard work and thrift.”

The Indians were able to come to T&T because of the surpluses that African labor created in the first place. In other words, it was the labor of blacks that provided the necessary resources to bring Indians to this land. In fact, the planters used the houses that blacks vacated after emancipation to accommodate the Indians.

The Port of Spain Gazette reported that the blacks erected their own houses “at their own cost on their land, and although they continued to work on the property, gave up their cottages to their employers as an object of no value” (September 24, 1844). It noted further: “Up to the present hour much credit is due to the native population for the way in which they behaved as regards the immigrants introduced from various sources.”

Two hundred and twenty-five Indians arrived in Trinidad in 1845. Between 1846 and 1847 the Trinidad government spent half of its revenues to import 4,454 Indians. This would be equal to T&T spending $26 billion (TT) of its current budget to recruit foreign workers—say Venezuelans—to work in T&T. Therefore, it is insulting and ahistorical to argue that blacks must now be taught the values of sacrifice, self-reliance and hard work when those virtues made it possible for the Indians to come to this land.

In May 1848 the island’s coffers were bare. Lord Harris, the governor of the island, feared the discontent that gripped the laborers would be spread amongst government workers. Blacks accorded the same humanitarian generosity to Indians that they had accorded previous immigrants. It helped to ease the transition of Indians to their new home.

Mr. Persad argues that in “a modern, civilized world” we [meaning Cudjoe, Subero and Lewis] should “request that Rowley distribute resources equitably to all racial groups.” Anyone dropping into this society from Mars would be hard-pressed to demonstrate that Afro-Trinbagonians possess a greater share of the national wealth than any other group in the island.

One can arrive at Persad’s conclusion only if one disregards the visible evidence and ignores the historic record. I may be wrong, but the only ideologues in these discussions are those who repeat their false claims ad infinitum in the hope that they place a further guilt trip on the state to gain additional advantages for their group. Beware!!! They are masters at this game.

10 thoughts on “Contradictions & Counterfactuals – Pt 2”

  1. Sita Ram,

    Aye Cudjoe de younglings doh even care about indentureship and 1845 or Slavery.

    Buh de Little Black boys of La Ventille and de Pow Pow Crew who does bow dong to Rat and Indo- Trinidadian Sheron have no intentions of picking up a hoe and shovel and wukking the land to reduce that foreign imported food bill of Subway sandwiches,Sushi,Dimsum,Gyros,Fetupchino Alfredo and Steak what the youngling daughters Afro,Indo,Ibero,Asso,Sino and Deux-la / Beaucoupla -Trinidadian with their worthless degrees and wet behind the ears and green management skills like to order every morning, lunchtime and dinner.

    Yuh wud faster find a young Afro-male shooting and robbing for a gold chain that worth eighteen thousand dollars swinging around a young Indo-male neck.

    Afros love of Beef and Brazilian Virgin hair puts your race into poverty!

    P.S 2018,Here come the pale skin Venezuelans to break Afros legs.

  2. “Two hundred and twenty-five Indians arrived in Trinidad in 1845. Between 1846 and 1847 the Trinidad government spent half of its revenues to import 4,454 Indians. This would be equal to T&T spending $26 billion (TT) of its current budget to recruit foreign workers—say Venezuelans—to work in T&T. Therefore, it is insulting and ahistorical to argue that blacks must now be taught the values of sacrifice, self-reliance and hard work when those virtues made it possible for the Indians to come to this land”

    The importation of 4,454 Indians cost $26,000,000,000. Doc that is factually incorrect. There is no way bringing less than 5,000 could cost $26 billion.

  3. Professor Cudjoe

    What is the objective of your article? Is it to just question certain people who are saying the obvious situation with Afro Trinidadians? What have you done to change the criminal element and living conditions in Laventill, Macoya and Enterprise where the majority population is Afro Trinis and where the higher percentage of crime and murder is taking place. Have you created one job for your brothers and sisters? They always saying there are no jobs. Yu live in your ivory tower in the USA where the blacks in southern US are currently the poorest people in the US if not the world. We want action from prominent Afro Trinis like you to fix the black problem in Trinidad and Tobago. These long articles do not do anything for the well being of your borhters and sisters. Stop talking and get into action Mr Professor.

  4. My dear Mamoo: Logic, it seems, is not your strong point. It’s what we call an analogy. If the government spent half of its revenue to bring Indians to the country between 1846 and 1847, which was half of the country’s revenue at the time, were we to do the same thing today it would really be analogs to the state spending $52 billion today since our budget today is about 52 billion annually. Since 26 billion is half of that, in two years it would be equivalent to $52 TT.

    One finds the same lack of logic and personalizing in what are nothing more than hysteria responses in Observer’s response. The question is not what I have done to change the situation…..The argument made by Persad and yourself is that Indians are where they today because of self-reliance, perseverance and thrift and that Afro-Trinidadians should not look to the state for assistance. All that I have done is to chronicle the assistance that Indians have received from the state for over the last 200 years. We should not blame Indians for that; we should only remember that they were given a leg up by the state. Perhaps the state needs to see what they can do assist Afro-Trinidadians out of their dilemma. I am not saying that Afro-Trinidadians are entirely blameless for their present position. All I am arguing is that when me make statements we should look at all of the available evidence.

    Having said that, I am glad and highly appreciative that Mamoo takes the time out to respond to what I write.

    One love

    1. My dear professor. There is no way you could spend $26 billion in today’s money to bring under 5,000 people from India to Trinidad. It is an absurd piece of logic you are using with all due respect.

      The indentured slave laborer was brought to Nelson island quarantine, clean of lice etc and immediately sent to barracoons to toil for massa. They saw him as a solution to the indolent Africa who made every excuse not to work in the hot sun. There were no state parties, grand celebration or even a fete. It was just slave replacement labor.

      1. Easy Mamoo, The Guptas has lost their grip on South Africa.. The effects of South Africa’s struggle against Indian Capture of The South African State will reverberate everywhere where African and African Pacific people share space.

        There is a sweet breeze blowing over T&T.. All of allyuh revision of history won’t help…..
        Change is coming here soon…

  5. This is the true history of Trinidad, what the Colonial powers did to Africans post so-called emancipation, is everything Ethnic cleansing, the price continues to be reverberated in every aspects. The negative responses to this article, comes from the non-knowers, they refute “TOUTE BAGAI” regardless of the truth, the Moyenne commission is still part of the historical archives of this Murder and Ethnic cleansing Island, when it is read, the players, Haters and all anti African actors will be illuminated. Prior to 1940, the colonial authorities put everything in place to keep the Africans separate to the Indians, their foreseen antagonisms, never came into fruition. In 1958,Dr Williams called the Hindu bases DLP/UNC a “”Recalcitrant and Hostile Minority””..masquerading as the Indian Nation and prostituting the name of India ” for its selfish and reactionary political ends.”’. In India itself, Dr Williams showed, the (Trinidad) Maha Sabha’s namesake had been denounced by leader Jawaharlal Nehru as representing “small upper class reactionary groups taking advantage of the religious passions of the masses”.. Dr Williams dismissed the local MAHA SABHA types as ” reactionary Indian politicians who see the political leader as a man of racialism…’ Does this sound familiar? e.g Williams, Manning? The link between the Maha Sabha and Panday, Kamla, the Judiciary, Indian businesses and politicians, ensured a preoccupation with the cultural concerns of the Hindus, while discouraging the mass of Indians from looking critically at the society and their leaders. An Indian leader in Trinidad,is judged by his ability to erect Hindu temples or chant the rudiments of Hindi Mantras. His/Her ability to discuss the problems of an emerging country is never ever considered. Indian, and not Trinidad’ national welfare is the discourse. Bara and Channa, over the years, have become the staple Trinidad street food, Indians have evolved from poverty, but have they paid any taxes along the way? Coconut water, the cost have moved from chump change to dollars,still no taxes, shouldn’t these daily transactions not regulated? APPAN JAAT means a lot to communal Trinidad, has it brought joy and pride into Nation building? MAMOO and his pro- Indian Nationalism Cohorts, will sure to see it differently. I have, and will continue to say, the African in Trinidad lacks History and knowledge, the Indians are well aware of this, while the Indians Dogma in Trinidad is to be visually present in every aspect regardless of know how, Trinidad Africans, are in every way less conniving. APPAN JAAT, means that Indians should never support African business, even at my tender age in San Fernando it was visual, has it change over the years? it’s your call.Thank you Dr Cujoe for putting the truth into print, who have eyes will see, who have ears will hear and who can read properly, will articulate, the truth is a DAGGA.

  6. One did not have to be a prophet to predict this.

    Cyril Ramaphosa sworn in as South Africa’s new president.

    JOHANNESBURG — Cyril Ramaphosa on Thursday was sworn in as South Africa’s new president after the resignation of Jacob Zuma, whose scandals brought the storied African National Congress to its weakest point since taking power at the end of apartheid.

    State Capture in an age of mass media?

  7. Again I beg Mamoo: Could offer one line of historical evidence to support your claim that “The indentured slave laborer….massa.”

    It will be nice to check the historical record to authenticate your claims.

    I will leave the $52 (TT) million alone. It is certainly beyond your comprehension.

    1. During slavery there was a man who used a whip. The whip ensured that production quotas were met. As for the indentured slave labor, he was expected to start at 5:00 a.m and work throughout the day for pittance.

      Instead of a man with a whip, there was a nicely dressed man with a boots. If he was not happy with your speed or production level you would get a kick on the rear end. That kick really hurt doc. As for source I got that from an astute TNT scholar who was my mentor for many years. He got that from observation and parental report. Enough said.

      As for the $52 million, unless I am quoting wrong, I though it was $26 billion or 1/2 today’s budget by comparison.

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