Conceiving the Inconceivable

By Dr. Selwyn R. Cudjoe
January 10, 2011

Dr. Selwyn R. CudjoeAh never hear Becky vex so yet. “Uncle Selwyn,” she said, you know Rambachan and dem people (meaning the Foreign Affairs Minister and the People’s Partnership) just letting dem Indian people and dem come into Trinidad jus’ so. Dey ah even need a visa to come into the country now.”

She was referring to the unilateral decision of the People’s Partnership to allow Indians and Russians to enter the country without visas.

“Ah always tell yo’ dem people racist…”

“Hold up a bit,” I said.

“You mean to say that Mr. Rambachand and dem racist because they are allowing Indians and Russians to come into the country without a visa?”

“Dey racist we. Why dey eh let Nigerians and Ghanaians come into the country without visas too. Like dem ah have money to spend too.”

“Ah don’t know if yo’ could call dem racist because of that. India is an emergent economy and some of its companies and citizens have lots of money to spend.”

“Yo’ hear yoself. You, too, agreeing with dat racial nonsense.”

“I am not necessarily agreeing,” I began to get authoritative, “but the truth is that many world leaders are trying to get into the good graces of the Indians now that their economy has begun to expand…”

“You sounding just like Anand Ramlogan. Yo’ feel African youths eh educated enough to understand what going on.”

Here, I was, trying to be rational and objective but she had to jump on me too.

“This year alone (meaning 2010),” I continued, ignoring her comment that I had sided with Anand, “five of the world’s top leaders: President Barak Obama (USA); President Nicolas Sarkozy (France); President Deitri Medvedev (Russia); Prime Minister Wen Jiabao (China) and Prime Minister David Cameron (UK) visited India to generate goodwill among the Indians so something important must be happening there.”

Didn’t President Obama visit Ghana last year?”

“Yes,” I retorted. It was one of those rhetorical questions upon which she was pivoting to come at me again…

“And didn’t President Sarkozy visit Gabon, Mali and Rwanda last month?”

“Right again,” I conceded. I didn’t tell her that Sarkozy went to African to ask them to release some French hostages and to mend frayed relations with Rwanda.

“How come Africans wasn’t given the same privilege as India?”

Ah had to stop her there. She was going too far.

I said: “Trinidad and Tobago is a growing economy; India may become a member of the United Nations Security Council that runs the world. There are many things T&T could gain from being associated more closely with India. There may be even be some wealthy Indians who want to invest in Trinidad. You cannot put that on the same level as President Sarkozy’s going to Gabon or President Obama’s visiting to Ghana…”

I didn’t voice my thoughts but she was following my internal reasoning. She pivoted and came on strong again.

“I like to hear all yuh professors talk. All up in the air, saying nutten but think yo’ convincing people about de inconvincible.”

I tried another tact.

“What makes you think that Mr. Rambachan is racist?”

“Is where you living,” she responding hot, intemperate and sarcastic…

“How yo’ mean where I living?”

“Ah mean where yo’ living because yo’ don’t act as if yo’ exist on the same planet or in the same country as me.”

“What yo’ mean by that?” She was getting a bit cheeky. “Yo’ don’t speak to your uncle like dat.”

“Ah go tell you what ah mean by dat? What school Rambachan went to?” She was getting. She didn’t even refer to him by his official title. I went along with the conversation to understand from her reasoning.


“When did he go to UWI?”

“I don’t know. I am not the man’s keeper.”

“Well, I go tell you. He went to UWI in the 1970s.”

I could not doubt her because I did not know the answer.

“What organization he led while he was there?”

“I don’t know.”

“Don’t know again. He was the President of the Society for the Propagation of Indian Culture. It was de most racist organization on the campus at the time…”

“So what does that imply?”

“A leopard cannot change its spots.”

“But the man was young, a mere student. Many things we do as students we repudiate in later life…”

“He have plenty repudiating to do ’cause he eh change any of his spots. He still racist as ever; still believe that black people did Indian people wrong; still want to impose his Hindu agenda on we…”

Her words were tumbling off her tongue as an avalanche. I had to bring this conversational train wreck back on course.

“Do you mean no matter how extreme Mr. Rambachan was as a young man there is no salvation for him?”

I thought I got her attention.

I continued: “I am the president of NAEAP. Does it mean dat I racist too?” She was silent now.

“In your mind is there any possibility of a person changing his life around and subscribing to an egalitarian philosophy?”

There was more silence on her part and a tentative wait-and-see attitude on my part.

Gradually she came out of her contemplative mode.

“Sometimes ah does have to watch all yuh big people and laugh.”

She was getting my attention.

“All yuh believe that once a person win election somehow dey does change their mind and dey attitude…”

“I didn’t say that…”

“I know you didn’t say dat. I saying dat! You is a big man. Yo’ seeing ting clear in de day but yo’ want to take a flambeau and look for it at half past one in de morning on the darkest night…coming here to tell me about objectivity and rationality and expect me to believe that.”

She uttered the last few words under her breath.

“But if you say he ease de visa restrictions because he concerned about the economic well being of T&T ah go have to go along with you but mark my words. De same thing dat happen in Ceylon could happen here if we ent watch out…”

As I pondered her observations, I promised to be more circumspect in the future. Her observation about Sri Lanka, the modern name for Ceylon, was insightful. I left the conversation feeling that I might have been too quick to dismiss Becky’s fears about Rambachan’s racism. She might have a point but only time will tell.

23 thoughts on “Conceiving the Inconceivable”

  1. Weii Professor, let me be the first to congratulate you for once more hitting ah home run as it were,on another fine article insightful, funny,yet laced with truth.
    There is a bright future for that niece of yours,and I might add, our future looks bright, with enlightened folks like her around.
    As for her concerns of T&T evolving into a Sri Lanka, tell her not to worry,as Trinis of whatever strips they subscribe to,have one basic characteristic,and dat’s an aversion to violence,unlike folks of the competing motherland
    In addition, there are few truisms about the folks that Suraj is obsessed with,that ensure we can relax a bit. Firstly,are technically just like all other Europeans that latched on to this oil rich blessed country. All they want is to left alone ,just like the
    British Greens,to make their money,live their secret ,kinky and decadent lives,with no interest in politics, and life outside their well guarded enclaves.
    Secondly,unlike Sri Lanka, we have no Buddhist here in Rainbow country to stand up and fight dem nationalist Hindus led by Rambachan,goopiesing, Rammy de COP,ag ,Queen K pit bull,so ethnic/racial wars are out ,as feared.
    Tell her don’t worry her pretty head,and pick up her skimpy carnival 2011 costume.
    Trinidad is nice,and a paradise.
    By the way,remind her of a view we Buddhist subscribes to, which is ,that “nothing is permanent,and changes are inevitable.” Therefore,in 2 years or less Suraj and his bunch would be off the grand political stage,yes?

  2. Well, I would tell Becky that when it comes to Africa, removing Visa restrictions is not so easy as India and Russia.
    There are currently fifteen African countries involved in war, or are experiencing post-war conflict and tension. In West Africa, the countries include Cote d’Ivoire, Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, and Togo. In East Africa, the countries include Eritrea, Ethiopia, Somalia, Sudan, Uganda. In Central Africa, the countries include Burundi, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Rwanda. In North Africa, the country is Algeria and in South Africa, the countries include Angola and Zimbabwe.
    Presently the Sudan is on the verge of civil war.
    So, Becky dealing with Africa is very complicated.

  3. Yes Becky T- Man the sly on is making a point that most of the African continent is undergoing civil wars, economic mismanagements, and other socially traumatic, dehumanizing situations, as befalls a continent that lost almost 400 million of it’s brightest, and most able folks, and is still being exploited even up to present moment. Now to build on your more astute point Becky, what do you think would be the humanitarian , and refugee situations be of people suffering such a fate ,if that continent was linked to folks from South Asia, with cousins spread across the length and breath of our cosmopolitan country?
    Tell me Becky , is your savvy , yet justifiably cynical mind, beginning to smell a rat here , as you become convince that part of that fear of Africa , as opposed to South Asia ,has more to do with demographic concerns, and it long term T&T political implications?
    Hey Dr Cudjoe , again congrats on having such a smart kid, as I suspect what her conclusions would be . Keep guiding not only her , but other kids , and future patriotic leaders across our nation .
    T- Man it’s 2011, and about time to adopt some of the principles of yours truly , fellow national , and progressive humanist.
    Say after me my friend, “luv country over tribe,as failure so to do can have ..” what again? Ah Yes .., yes, ..”dire consequences.”
    By the way, don’t get too excited about that allegedly noble South Asian region ancestral lands , as some 200 million Hindus, Muslims, and other insignificant fringe groups ,have been murdered in interethnic blood shed, since white loving Massa unfortunately departed, and to add, you would be surprise to know the exact levels of folks stuck below the poverty line just in the two nuclear obsessed major competing rivals Pakistan ,and India. Let’s leave sleeping dogs alone where they lie ehh, T-Man?
    Warm Regards.

  4. This article is a classic case of racial fear and polarization. The Americans for instance have invested billions in T&T. They come and were welcome with open arms. I don’t hear any fear about them coming and taking over much of T&T where grand palaces dot the areas around the oil fields, with doberman in tow and a few Trini guards.
    Increasingly as the world changes TATA motors from India for instance may want to come to T&T a build a plant to supply cars for South America. Or the Indian Agriculture society may want to partner with T&T and develop flood resistant plants. That is the challenge of a pluralistic society that defines itself unfortunately by ethocentric ideology.

    When T&T open it does for direct flight from Nigeria, I did not hear a huff from the goodly professor. Or when fadder Manning opened the doors and welcome Cubans,Filipinos and Chinese en masse to our lovely shores. Nothing out of NEAP. Suddenly the race term is played around when it comes to embracing India’s economic might. Why? the subtle injection of unnecessary fear. A diversified economy is an advantage to all. Indians in my opinion with money should be welcome like anyone else. This is what free market enterprise affords us and people like Neal and prof needs to deal with it.

  5. “Indians in my opinion with money should be welcome.” Good one khem , so was dat the criteria used by the Canadians, Brits , Australians, and Yankees , to lure you guys out of T&T , starting in 1986?
    What a sick joke , and clear indication of the elitist mentalities of these and similar , country hating folks.
    Hey khem , enough with these foreign saviors obsessions favored by head honchos in your PP regime.
    For once in your life, forget the tribe , and instead focus on global suffering humanity , while simultaneously ,pushing for self development of the people in your country, so that they too can do for self as opposed to dependence on government as pushed by the likes of suspect politicians , and disingenuous tribalist ,such as Basdeo Panday , and Patrick Mannings of the world.
    Tell me ,what benefits accrued to Trinidad and Tobago today , when we allowed typical selfish, business carpetbagger Ram Kirpalani, and his kind, to our country? Pray tell.

    1. Nealos said “Tell me ,what benefits accrued to Trinidad and Tobago today , when we allowed typical selfish, business carpetbagger Ram Kirpalani, and his kind, to our country? Pray tell”.

      Kirpalani was one of the great indian success in T&T. I remember as a child going to Sando just to buy from Ram because of the many sales he had to help the poor in the nation. His contribution in tax, hiring Trinis and assisting to improve the lives of nationals goes without saying.Did you know Nealos he was up at 4:00a.m. every day. Mittal Steel is another great indian success in T&T. He took our steel company and made it profitable.

      The indian business successes are much higher in South Africa where when the Indian Prime Minister visits the red carpet roled out with much pomp and pageantry. In fact whenever he goes there it is like going home. Indian businesses are welcome there with open arms. Indian business build cars etc there.

      On the other hand Nealos your buddy Idi Amin Dada drove indians out of Uganda (Mississippi Massala captures it well)and thousands were accepted by British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. Today the tables are reverse and the Uganda President is trying his best to bring back Indian business people to his country. All kinds of incentives are being offered. Why??? Because when they were there the Ugandan economy grew.

      Nealos since you are engaging me in this folly can you tell me of one Afro businesses imported from your mother land Africa that accomplished anything like Ram the man you belittle so much…. Please don’t deflect the question.

      To the Minister of External Affairs I say the time is now. Bring in those business, Brazil is opening it’s doors and T&T must fulfill the Pandayian vision of T&T being the gateway to the Americas.

      Forget the nay sayers those whose only claim to fame is ethnocentric babbling, the true babbleonians that they are…

      1. I am sure that all those indians living on the pavements of mumbai and new delhi would love to come here- yes india is an economic might but just for the few- we must remember also though that they are one of the most corrupt nations on earth. Anyway they do not visit other people’s countries as tourists. And of course there are wealthy indians in south africa- they gained their wealth on the backs of africans all over the continent-

  6. Come on khem , I expected better than this from you with this idle boast about Indian business successes. It is tantamount to a few unmentionable space loving countries exploring the moon ,and other space in search of new lifeforms and similar adventures, when they cannot deal with prevailing debilitating realities right hear on earth.

    To what end I ask is all this greatness across the rest of the globe, when millions are locked in poverty in their own country to the same degree , or even worst than most dysfunctional , and failed states in Africa? The difference is you and a non tribalist as myself , is that I am not living in denial about the ghastly state of my ancestral continent, while you in contrast , remains an apologist for neo colonial elitism , and the evil fall outs against abused peoples.

    The bigger question you should be asking is why “ Kirpalani was one of the great indian success in T&T,”and this could not be the case in barbarian Dada Amin Uganda, cousin Khem? It should also fill you with pride to know, that your ancestors came to T&T, and not Fuji, Sri Lanka, South Africa , or any such intolerable countries , and so today you smile with pride as to both your economic and political achievements , all performed under the fine guidance of African leaders for more than 40 out of our accumulated 48 years of Independence since Massa England was kicked out.

    When it comes to successes and achievements , in answer I would ask you to look at your hands and tell me if it would be just as effective if all you fingers looked like your index , pinky , or big thumb.
    In the past we were forced to work with what we had , and so evolved into what we have today. If your government cares about businessmen emerging from other racial groups across the country , then tell dem handing out free laptops ,writing draconian laws ,and reneging on desperate old age pensioners checks, won’t cut it , as far as developmental policies. I have some progressive suggestions.
    It is time you start to show some care and concern for all of humanity – irrespective of their class or tribal affiliations- and quit foolishly singing praises for a few fortunate members of the corrupt ,elitist, nuvo rich , petty bourgeois , phony gentry, yes?

    1. Neal said “It should also fill you with pride to know, that your ancestors came to T&T, and not Fuji, Sri Lanka, South Africa…”

      My friend you can see millions have been invested into South Africa by Indian businesses. Helping your starving cousins in the dark continent Nealos. If a fraction of that is invested in T&T, by these businessmen, the future will be much brighter for your murderous cousins in Laventy and Murdervant, where I understand that the only law is illegal hand gun.


        Yes my friend enjoy your idle boast , as your alleged ‘colored ,3/4 whites,’cousins were able ,in like manner to their white Apartheid racist collaborators, to build their entire fiefdom at the expense of Zulu / Bandu KINKY HEAD brothers ,and sisters .
        This I can assure you , would one day pass, as authentic South Africans, will finally rise up ,and take back their country , and when they are finish, the results would make comedians such as ID Dada Amin , and buffoon Robert Mugabe ,look like Sunday school priests, in comparison- and for the record the Nobelist sell out, Nelson Madeba ,Mandela, won’t be able to prevent it.
        Learn your history. I know of what I speak , and unlike you , did not need BBC, CNN, your Toronto based CBS, or Yankee VOA , to let me in on the true realities on the ground. Your cousins , cannot move on, or help SA develop as a nation , by staying on the sidelines khem . They will once they decide to take a stand ,in the name of injustice elimination, that still exist ,when white racist Massa was still in control.

        Again , quit gloating over the paltry successes of a few folks , hmmm? Long live the political revolution , now on to the economic revolution that must of necessity take place in SA.

        1. Neal, for someone as decent, and knowledgeable as you are, I cannot understand why you do not follow the injunction of the Holy Bible, about “casting pearls before swine…”?

          Your responding to their remarks; remarks deliberately rude and unavoidably crude, serves to embolden them enough to participate in a discourse allowed them here in cowardly anonymity.

          Do not even refer to these characters by name. Their existence, in our context, is premised on being indecent, artless and provoking; provoking being the default reason for their cowardly responses and bated counter-responses.

  7. Neal, the country in which you reside is strewn with poverty and homelessness.
    We cannot allow this condition to dampen the forces of entrepreneurship and free enterprise.

  8. We lament about the mindset of the Greens Brits , and other selfish Europeans of the world T-Man, that still in their twisted souls ,view native folks as foot-cloths, and useless colonial pions, and for that you and others should be commended.
    You wisely indicated that the Chinese , Cubans, Filipinos , and numerous Africans -many with suspect credentials -might likewise not be too enamored with our country , if it were not for the lucrative benefits ,that can be accrued.
    However, when it comes to your South Asian brothers and sisters, it seems to be “a horse of a different color, ” as my wise grandmother used to say.
    Do you deep in your hearts think that these so called wonderful entrepreneurial giants from India/ Pakistan , that you are dribbling/salivating over -solely because they emerged from your historical gene pool-are any different as far as Trinidad and Tobago needs are concern?
    The way forward is making our people stake holders, by elevating them , as our leaders encourage self reliance ,and business acumens right here at home.
    Here is your next challenge as Chief PP administration ,closet spokesman, and tell Uncle Dookie to wake up , and start handing out start up loans, for those that desire , and stop vying for the PM spot , as Queen K and Uncle Jack ain’t budging any time soon .
    Tell your Minister of Education Goopiesing , to scrap the stupid 16 th century, useless British education system , that have our kids cramming for GCE Exams -then drinking gramazone , or blowing each others heads off , when they fail -where they regurgitate failed ideas, and instead teach business management , marketing ,investments , computers and ,Philanthropy , so that we too can connect with the world ,force real business to come here with meaningful jobs, and lift this society up.
    ‘PNM gone , yet PNM is here,’ is an appropriate motto slogan ,that can be used to describe what has transpired since May 24th 2010 , and that’s a sad testament of where we are , and heading , yes?

    1. Nealos said “Here is your next challenge as Chief PP administration ,closet spokesman, and tell Uncle Dookie to wake up…”

      Nealos you went off topic as you usually do with your tribal rant again. But that is way your mind operates always looking to advise everyone about everything. In the grand scheme of things racism is ingrained in your DNA. It has become the metaphor for your life. Being a PNMite with an axe to grind I could understand your pain as well as the docs pain, but the world is made up of varying tapestries and instead of you and doc continuing to bark at wind, please lighten up and learn to embrace the beauty that surrounds us…
      Hitler marched in the blood of millions yet where is he today and his vision??? Jesse Owen one of my heroes went to Nuremburg and plucked 5 gold medals from the necks of the Arayan race. The lesson here Nealos is your tribalistic world view is destined to fail because it is built on misguided fear. Fear that somehow people of other races will oppress you. It is the people of hope who holds the future, the Jack Warners, the Queen K, the mighty Rambachan…. they believe it is possible for a better nation and so to you my tribal friend you must stop drinking the drain water of unnecessary hate… After all together we aspire together we achieve…

      1. “Jesse Owen one of my heroes went to Nuremburg and plucked 5 gold medals from the necks of the Arayan race.” Well, well, cousin khem , what can I say ,but repeat the words of the wisest woman dat ever lived , in my loving Grandmother, “wonders never cease.”
        Showing some luv to someone outside the tribe , that excelled in sporting adventures , and not limit yourself to some opaque , alleged business giant , or is that one of your very obvious ploys ,to try and throw , an astute globalist like myself ,off guard?
        Let me inform you that you will repeatedly fail in such foolhardy ventures , as when as late as 1985- before running to Canada like a zandolee – while you were still a mere recovering , border line ,sclerosis of the liver, bumbling alcoholic from Cumoto ,with barely the ability to fully spell your name due to obvious substandard upbringing,I was already perfecting this and similar , chess plays maneuvers, as an art form ,on characters like yourself , by ‘playing dead to catch cobeaux alive.’
        You also said khem ,”It is the people of hope who holds the future, … the mighty Rambachan?” Now see khem , I am now more than convince that you are hopeless country hater , and this addiction has taken it’s toll , so as to force you to relapse into yet another drunken stupor , if you are making such an illogical stretch.
        Let me tell you something my friend. There are two politicians I have never trusted , nor ever will ,for as long as they walk the face of this earth , or serve in any capacity ,in my loving country.
        The first was an over ambitious , politically immoral, phony anti death penalty ,Human Rights activist , one time AG ,UNC backbench Chief whip,Queen K enemy/ arch-rival ,as well as Basdeo , and Abu Bakr right hand secret holder, and lawyer.
        The second is the former Mayor of Chagurnas, that Jack put out of commission and became an enemy/ marked man for life- even if he is unaware.
        Sorry my friend, dis is where we part company ,as I do not care how much sack cloths , and ashes ,they both cover themselves in, Baptist flags they pray to , or public acts of contritions , to encourage us to forget their millions of past misdeeds, citizens opinions will never change.
        My country , and it myriad of wonderful 1.3 million collection of people , means too much for me to adopt your passion on this score likewise.
        I wish you well nevertheless. Hey , luv country over tribe … since failure so to do , can have dire consequences.

        1. Nealos said “You also said khem ,”It is the people of hope who holds the future, … the mighty Rambachan?”

          Let me say the doc will support me in this because “Indian time ah come”. I notice you live in very narrow world Nealos. You know there are good and bad in all people. My neighbour is of African ancestry by god children are of african and dougla persuasion. Nealos can you say the same for yourself? Or do you only have friends of a particular tribe, perhaps Yoruba like the doc. That is why I say there are several tapestries interwoven into the human dialog.

          Nealos the best way to fight racism is find some Indian friends to hang out with. Racism is ignorance and it is a label that unfortunately defines people whose lives are lived in narrow recesses of back water thinking. Ideologies given to us by our parental conversations. Way back in the 50s and 60s when ignorance of others was the norm. Let it not be said my friend that you have fallen for the less of the good in others. Take neverdirty also because it appears as though he is on the same track as you… Much love here buddy.

          1. “My neighbour is of African ancestry by god children are of african and dougla persuasion.”Now don’t get me started cousin khem,for I do not care if you had little African girls at your side ,since you were a starving ,runny nose toddler ,creeping around the rickety one bedroom mud hut ,you were forced to share with 18 other siblings, papa chose to produce near de Caroni River bank, way before the PNM came to power.
            I have absolutely little concern whatsoever ,if all the women you ever dated in your entire life, were of the kinky hair,humungous posterior, thick lips, and big nose persuasions my friend, as that does not make you less of an evil, selfish , hate in your soul racist.
            If you doubt me as to the logic of my argument, den ask white god luving Christian ,Thomas Jefferson, as that “all men are created equal” bum, while US 3 rd President- with his caucasian wife full knowledge – slept and repeatedly raped his loving, doleful female African slaves , impregnate dem with several illegitimate kids ,then the immoral miscreant ,without a bone of decency in his body ,then left office ,without freeing a single one.
            You are fortunate my friend that I get a kick out of our cyber tribal interplay communications, or else I would be telling you where to shove this your preposterous , imbecilic “…best way to fight racism is find some Indian friends to hang out with,” claptrap.
            Here is another viewpoint that might work. It is called developing a sense of respect for others.
            This must of course be followed up with prudent actions,that hopefully will prevent -in our case- some of the terrible ,socio-political, lose/lose, violent devastations, that has plagued too many people, and nations throughout the global village- especially since ” the end of history,”yes?
            Be forewarned , it’s your call buddy!
            Just be cognizant of a theory I will soon patent ,and expand on , due to it relevancy to our national socio -political twists and turns.
            I referred to it as , ‘de dog with the bone syndrome.’
            I wis you well.

  9. Dr. Cudjoe, I hope and pray, despite too much otherwise being evidenced here, that you have not so easily surrendered your prescient and honourable positions to expectations, the prime considerations of which are not to be truthful and decent, but characterised by a fatalistic, inexorable, and millenia-old anti-Black racism.

    In no other theatre of struggle against such virulant anti-Black racism have Black people struggled so long, so hard, and with so little of positive results to show for it.

  10. Hey Hey Hey ppl please, Indians coming to TnT is a blessing. These ppl coming are very educated and control vast amounts of money. They can do a lot for sweet TnT…

    PS.. Anna and the rest of you racist…stop it

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