Preparing the Way for Kamla

By Dr Selwyn R. Cudjoe
June 04, 2018


Dr. Selwyn R. CudjoeIt was Indian Arrival Day. I just had to go down to Paravati Girls Hindu College, Debe, to hear what Sat Maharaj, leader of the Sanatan Dharma Maha Sabha (SDMS) had to say about the importance of Indian Arrival Day to his community and his response to the negative media coverage that attended his demand that Nafisah Nakhid not wear her hijab at his Maha Sabha School, which he said violated the school’s dress code.

Sat’s action was bad enough but then Kamla Persad Bissessar, leader of the Opposition, had the temerity to say that Sat erred in his judgment and perhaps needed to apologize. That was too much for Sat. He immediately withdrew the invitation to Kamla to deliver a feature address at his organization’s celebration of Indian Arrival Day and disinvited her from even attending the celebration. What followed was even more devastating. He announced that she had lost her right to the Hindu voters against whom she had sinned politically.

Kamla, he opined, had taken Hindu voters for granted. Therefore, he called upon them “to free their votes. Vote for whatever party has the best programme. Vote for whichever has the best candidates. Not because they are Hindu or Indian or women. The Hindu vote is going to be freed up. No more voting because you belong to the same race or the same class. Kamla, you are going to pay a hell of a price.”

When I arrived at the Paravati Girls Hindu School compound I approached the front of the audience. Sat invited me to join him and his party onstage. On the way to my seat, Sat joked: “Ah ban Kamla; ah didn’t ban you,” which I interpreted to mean that I was welcome at the function.

In his address Sat announced that this year’s Indian Arrival Day was celebrated at seventy-five SDMS secondary schools and one hundred and fifty Hindu temples across the land. He said his organization celebrated Indian Arrival Day because his ancestors were treated as animals. “There was no rivalry between the Hindus and the Muslims in those early days. We suffered the same fate and communal harmony existed amongst us.”

Sat announced that the SDMS schools are prepared for the changes in the world that await his students. “Don’t take us for granted. We are no coolie babu (older Indians who have struggled in the cane fields and now are walking with bent backs, shuffling feet with the aid of a stick.) You want to treat us as political fodder but the time has come when we must free ourselves from the politics that makes you a slave.”

Then he declaimed even far more forcibly: “Don’t let politics enslave you. It is time for our final emancipation. My navel string is buried on the banks of the Caroni River; we have built our cremation fire on the banks of the Caroni River. My ashes will be strewn in the Caroni River and over the millennium my ashes will touch the Ganges River and we will be one again.”

Sat locates himself within a curious blend of fierce nationalism and Hindu religiosity, economic self-sufficiency, and egregious political meanderings that Raffique Shah captured so admirably in his article, “Sat Still Stirring Religious Intolerance” (Express, May 29). Sat said in his address: “We have educated ourselves and drew ourselves up by our own straps.” This was not particularly true, but it suits Sat’s version of his group’s self-emancipatory achievements.

Sat views himself as a Trini through and through. His social and political history has willed him thus and he has no wish to be anything else. He wants to serve his people fully but that desire has always led him to say and do contradictory or even hurtful things. There can be no other reason for his intemperate words to Kamla: “You take for granted that you can behave anyhow; do what you want, eat what you want, drive what you want, play the ass all over the place and the Hindu is still going to vote for you. Kamla those days are over.” Sat actions also caused great pain to Ms. Nakhid.

These were enormous political miscalculations. Words that were meant to sink Kamla allowed her to soar above the religious and educational minutia of the day and locate herself atop the political pyramid of the society. As she said: “I do not lead a religious flock. I am a woman who has endured and continues to endure the most vile and misogynistic abuse. I will always protect the constitutional right of every person to be afforded their constitutional right for which I am prepared to die. That is the legacy I intend to pass on. Strength is in unity. We live together as brothers, or perish as fools.”

In her feature address at Cedros, Kamla declared: “There is no more Mother India, Mother Africa, Mother Asia or Mother Europe, only Mother Trinbago” (Guardian, May 31, my Italics). Kamla was at her eloquent best.

Sometimes the political gravity of events vaults a person outside of herself. In a curious way, Sat’s blunder may have prepared the way for Kamla’s political fortunes to arise once more.

8 thoughts on “Preparing the Way for Kamla”

  1. The Professor wrote, “Sometimes the political gravity of events vaults a person outside of herself. In a curious way, Sat’s blunder may have prepared the way for Kamla’s political fortunes to arise once more.”

    I doubt that the UNC can EVER regain political power in T&T, Professor. Kamla could not pull off a second term at the top of her game. Imagine Dat..
    But it’s nice to see them pandering for the ‘Black Vote’ today.
    How do you change the past, Professor?

    Don’t you think we should be calling on the Government to ‘defund’ all Maha Sabha schools for practicing discrimination in our State-funded educational system?

    I guess it’s hard to go against a friend.

  2. Yes I hear you and yes this is the age all the BS about slavery will come out. In the much bigger picture of life there has been, is, and will be, enslavement of every kind. We need to deal with it just as over 60 years ago. I was 7 years old then. I was discriminated all my life and so it has been a continual learning process for me. Racism, bias, prejudice, and discrimination will never go away. They are the tools for division, segregation, selfishness etc. NOT WHAT GOD WANTS OF US. In the more modern world we can be brainwashed as Cambridge Analytica has shown. Facebook is a free for all now and fake news is well, so it is with us. Mamaguy is the order of the day. With all the liberalization of all polices political or otherwise (e.g. religion) we now need to think very carefully before we act as consequences can be dramatically and so be set against our interests or personal desires. It has become a very dangerous world to even exist in. When my eyes dwell on the homeless I cannot help but realize that we , earthly peoples are going at full speed away from God. Imagine young black homeless kids are cleaning windscreens instead of attending schools for a KFC meal. Our governments are either totally uncaring or clueless, or just plain selfish. Yet the PNM and UNC boast about how well off we are as a nation. In the USA the government there is the same as they do not ask why the players kneel when the anthem is played. God is watching all the time and the rope that can hang us is very long. However you can stop your crap and change your life. And there are trillions of ways in which God chooses to reach us. You just have to open that door for him to come into your life and clean up the mess. This is the love we need to accept and save ourselves. But is Kamla or Sat really wants us to trust either of them. I wonder! Who is playing who here. Or is the author really searching for the truth or is he like Sir Hilary Beckles who only plays a certain song.

  3. Sita Ram,
    Now Uncle caca have to paint and straighten out a issue with some false history propagated by the a certain minority choonky segment of society who like green;

    The indentures indians in India that came to T&T had other skills they brought to T&T other than what they did on the plantation.

    about the The Slavery and Indentureship Jumbies and mental slavery , Dr. Cudjoe it will be released by the seventh generation of descendants, those turning 18 in 2018.

    Leave Uncle Sat alone, the man does throw jaal every morning and go Ganga Daaraa to spread yellow buttercups flowers in the beach to follow you around and stick up in your bathing suit,

    he has gone beyond what he should be doing and saying for a community of mute saga people with false bravado behaviors and bleached skin.

    Aunty Kamla should focus on being a Grandma and and cooking Roti for Dr. Bissessar and rolling up the tassa.

    Mickayla Punday, should focus on being a single mommy and leave he politics and forfeit her feminist agenda against the Trini man.

    Finally Trini put down the doubles and the guns and drugs and some body step up to the plate nah dread some educated professionally and politically younglings, young blood and Govern well and beyond our expectations.

  4. Dr Cujoe,over the last couple of months, you have been pandering in both the camps of Kamla and Sat,giving them a good face if there is any, next, i expect you to give us your take on Michaela Panday’s political office aspirations. History teaches, and also condition our minds, to both forwardness or backwardness, are you equating the populace to yard fowls and pothongs? chasing them and next minute dey back in your face?. A new election season is quickly approaching, with political Rodents ladened in its entourage. Now, what have SAT said, that have not been a continuation of past sayings?, in a non political season, his DIATRIBE, would be BARA and CHANNA to KAMLA, Her position is a political one, well played out. n ancient Hindi, there are three categories of man, the one that comes to mind, is the PASU man, the one that have refuse to evolve, his Animalist instinct have continue to impact his true development into what he would like to become, behind all the gloss, it is really SAT-AN. The DEMIUGE has found a nest in TRINIDAD, Her past of GENOCIDE,SLAVERY,INDENTURESHIP,and COLONIALISM, have created the space needed for ISMS and SCISMS. I’m waiting with gushed hope for part 2, PRO.

  5. “In a curious way, Sat’s blunder may have prepared the way for Kamla’s political fortunes to arise once more.”..Professor Cudjoe

    I happen to find this assertion not just curious but somewhat naive. There is nothing in the narrative exchanged between Sat and Kamla about the hijab situation that raises the political capital of Kamla. By associating her with the side of fairness, while Sat remains religiously unforgiving, is saying that black people should look to Kamla as a non-polarizing figure who might be departing from her previously segregated platforms. This is pure and unadulterated tomfoolery – a leopard does not change it’s spots and I’m absolutely sure Kamla’s political alignment with black people has not changed either. Her expression of differences with Sat is NOT and should NOT be considered real.

    From my vintage point, it is classic Kamla. This is the same politician who was ‘against’ the idea of child marriage but when the opportunity came for her to express what she says into law, she went missing on the vote to make it law in Parliament. Why should we consider such a person to be trusted with our fate? It is the same Kamla who, when Sat used the opportunity to castigate people whom they consider PNM as out of touch and against Indian people, she prodded Sat to ‘go on and tell it like it is Sat’.
    Kamla will do and say anything that will make her appealing to voters outside the Indian community (and there is nothing wrong with that) but those of us who question her motives must not be fooled by mere posturing.

    It is not my intention to criticize Dr. Cudjoe for his judgement but as one who founded an organization to attract and educate African peoples, he must be aware of political trappings that we should not easily become victims to. It is therefore incumbent upon himself to make good analytical choices that narrate a direction that will not hurt us. Therefore, if we are to continue viewing Dr. Cudjoe as one who can interpret public posturing and meanderings of politicians accurately, he has to show depths in his analysis of these issues.

    1. In my opinion, Mrs. Persad-Bissessar had little choice but to criticize the stance of the Sanatan Dharma Maha Sabha. I agree with you that politically speaking, it would be the only palatable stance to adopt, especially with the general elections coming up in 2020.

      However, I am also not really swayed by the Opposition Leader’s support for Ms. Nafisah Nakhid. I also believe that it is a calculated political move. Oddly enough, I believe that Sat Maharaj’s position is more genuine than that of the Opposition Leader and that his sense of betrayal vis-a-vis the Mrs. Persad-Bissessar is quite evident.

      With that said, I am predicting that the relationship between the Opposition Leader and the SDMS General Secretary will repaired just in time the next General Election. I never underestimate the ability of the UNC and the SDMS to rally around the cause of a common enemy, i.e. the PNM.

  6. Dr. Cudjoe writes articles on the political landscape. He is prsenting his opinion. Whether he goes left or right, up or down, it is his opinion.But it appears that some people need the opinion of the news media prognosticators to make up their minds who is the good, bad and ugly before they vote. Allyuh have to make up allyuh own mind.

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