To be or not to be a national hero

By Dr Kwame Nantambu
December 22, 2022

Dr. Kwame NantambuAs a new year approaches, it is indeed a sine qua non to delve deeper into history in order to ascertain what it really takes to be a real national hero of T&T. At the outset, a review of the literature indicates that one of the most fundamental, basic inherent qualities/criteria of any nation’s hero is that person’s overt ability to be a dynamic, forceful agent for radical, structural, even violent change in an imposed oppressive system.

Moreover, as a most relevant, pivotal historical background check, it is vital to recall that our first nation’s peoples in the BC era never called themselves Amerindians, period and full stop. Indeed, the historical record shows that the indigenous peoples of the Caribbean were known as Kalinagos/Kalinas and Lokonos/Tainos, later to be called Amerindians of North and Central America.

When the Euro-Spaniards came to these shores in the 15th century AD, they re-named the Kalinagos “Caribs”, which means cannibals, and the Lokonos were re-named “Arawaks”.

Now, the historical record reveals/asserts/proves that the most famous Kalinago is Chief Hyarima, who was the leader of the Nepuyo people. He was a Chieftain/cacique who established villages throughout northeast Trinidad.

Truth be told: Hyarima is this country’s first original, authentic, revolutionary, anti-colonial national hero, period and full stop. Why? Because he masterminded the violent destruction/burning-down of Trinidad’s old colonial capital, St Joseph, on October 14, 1637. Most specifically, Hyarima sought to totally destroy Euro-Spanish colonialism “by any means necessary”. Ergo, he fits the ultimate criteria of a genuine national hero.

And this poignant, significant, historical anti-colonial action was to be later aptly described by Frantz Fanon in his magnum opus, titled The Wretched of the Earth (1968), in these words: “decolonisation is always a violent phenomenon”.

Therefore, to put it in simple historical terms/perspective, all of T&T’s subsequent putative national heroes are of the neo-colonialist genre. As Osagyefo Dr Kwame Nkrumah elucidates in his Neo-Colonialism: The Last Stage of Imperialism (1965): “The essence of neo-colonialism is that the State which is subject to it is independent and has all the outward trappings of international sovereignty. In reality, its economic system and thus its political policy are (invisibly) directed from outside.”

For example, since August 31, 1962, and September 24, 1976, T&T’s streets, parks, squares, entertainment and sporting arenas still bear/reflect Euro-British names, period and full stop. Furthermore, the Euro-British Privy Council is still the legal decision-maker of last resort even though the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) is located in Port of Spain.

Indeed, no neo-colonial political leaders of T&T have even attempted to change these Euro-British colonial replicas. In reality, then, this neo-colonial republic has successfully graduated with first-class degree honours from Euro-British colonialism to Euro-American re-colonisation, period and full stop.

Thus, it is only logically fitting and historically accurate that a statue of Hyarima should replace the current statute of Captain Arthur Andrew Cipriani on Independence Square.

Truth be told: Cipriani is not a national hero of the colony/country of Trinidad and Tobago, period. He was and still is only a national hero of the Euro-British colonial government. He fought on behalf of the Euro-British Crown.

As Dr Hollis “Chalkdust” Liverpool points out in his epic treatise, titled God, The Press and Uriah Butler (2020), Cipriani wanted a reformed Trinidad “as is done in Britain”, for “if it is good in Britain” then “it is good for Trinidad as well” and the colonised in the entire Caribbean.

Put another way, what Dr Liverpool is asserting historically is that Captain Cipriani was determined to transform/re-construct the colony of Trinidad into the image and likeness of his Euro-British beloved modus vivendi and governance. And that is certainly NOT one of the criteria/qualities of a national hero of this country, period and full stop.

The historical record reveals that Cipriani never organised or led not one anti-British colonial march/protest in the tumultuous heydays of the 1930s, period. He was, by definition, Euro-British “to de bone” and then some.

In the final analysis, the historical reality is that Cipriani was fiercely adamant that the imposed Euro-British system must remain intact, whereas the Kalinago revolutionary leader/chieftain Hyarima sought to violently destroy the imposed Euro-Spanish colonial system. He is this country’s maximum national hero, period and full stop.

Author Kwame Nantambu is professor emeritus, Kent State University.

4 thoughts on “To be or not to be a national hero”

  1. There was a Dude. His name is not being mentioned much in Trinidad. He is known as Eric Eustace Williams, a Man beyond his time, a Man of tremendous ability and of true knowledge. A Giant of a Man , One of the fathers of De Colonisation. Mr Williams at the early age of 33yrs, put on paper a master publication named “Capitalism and Slavery”. He presented that book at the 45th conference on Pan-Africanism/DeColonisation in Manchester England in 1945. Attendees at the conference included Giants like Sage Nkhruma, Jomo Kenyatta , George Pardmore, and all the emerging Leaders of the time, most ending up as pro independence leaders in Africa Asia and the Caribbean. Dr Williams was targeted by the CIA , for his views and eloquence. His book was refused publication in England, and was marked for Death. 80yrs later, his book is being published by a noted British House. The West Indian federation, Burnham and Jagan in British Guiana/Guyana , Cuba , Caricom and later Grenada, were the muddy waters He had to navigate. Prior to the end of His incarnation, Trinidad moved from Independence to presently being a Republic. The baton has been dropped in the present relay. His Mark was not placed in Water, it is Indelible, very permanent. Is it not time to give Dr Eric Williams his flowers?. The ancients told us that “the road to Hell is paved with good intentions” . No One Has Come Close To Dr Eric Williams’ Contribution. ” Aluta Continua”

  2. It’s time that Guyana tells Uncle Sam that Guyana will only sell Liza One and Liza Two oil in Guyana dollars.

    We need to disassociate ourselves from being too dependent on the US Dollar when we are seeing a multi-polar world where China is buying Saudi oil in Yuan and India plans to buy Russian oil in Rubles.

    Guyana has more wealth and natural resources than America, per capita and in total. Pax Americana is slowly in terminal decline.

    Pax Guyana will have to join BRICS and OPEC and become a global superpower.

    Time for Guyana to ditch the US Dollar in oil trade.

    Guyana can thrive with the plentiful oil resources that we have. We don’t need to do trade with US Dollars when Liza crude is the sweetest, cleanest and best crude oil there is in the world.

  3. If it’s not this nonsense being espoused by politicians, the Guyanese media or by locals in Guyana on social media, it’s gotta be on a Trini news blog smh

    We get it already. You discovered oil and believe that you will become the noveau riche in the region.

    But get your facts straight before acting high and mighty:

    The US Military budget is $1.7 trillion dollars USD
    The Guyanese Military budget is $70 million dollars USD

    Per capita:
    US Military budget:$5,000 USD per capita
    Guyanese Military budget: $85 per capita

    To contrast, the population of Key West, FL is 25,000 persons and their local police department budget is 70 million USD.

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