August 02, 2016
“The stories of our past should not condemn us to the turmoil of acrimony; but rather they should show us a path for achieving the positive and prosperous development of our country now and for the generations to come. . . . We are currently writing new pages in our history. . . . We need to ask ourselves, are we facilitating new prejudices and divisions in our society? Are we perpetuating a mindset of entitlement – claiming rights where instead we should accept personal responsibility? . . . Are we committed to working together in the best interest of our country? Can we look past the ‘me’ and ‘my group’ to the bigger picture of nationhood?”
The aforementioned comments made by Prime Minister Dr. Keith Rowley in commemoration of Emancipation Day were extracted from an article titled “PM: Less self, more nationhood“, published in looptt.com. In it lies our problem as a people and as a nation.
Trinidad and Tobago’s leaders have thus far failed to allow for ongoing public discourses on African issues, especially through our state media. In fact, such efforts were/are discouraged with the misguided notion that these interactions are divisive. Token discussions around Emancipation Day serve a kind of carnival value, with little, if any, conscious development. As a result, the examination of what constitutes ‘I’ or ‘me’ in the African psyche is generally lacking; the limited attention around Emancipation Day is not sufficient to effect change for the better.
During Slavery, Africans were systematically stripped of valuable aspects of cultural traditions and family development that are crucial for developing a strong sense of identity. Africans were conditioned to view the interests of the slave masters as their own. The lack of critical examination of history to correct these false identifications perpetuates the destruction of integrity and loyalty of Africans to each other based on shared experiences.
Too many Africans still work for the economic and social betterment of others at the expense of their own self-interest due to the spectre of false self-identification. Calling on Africans to look at the big picture of nation building and to focus on the collective well-being of all people without first addressing their issues as a group only furthers the interest of others at the expense of Africans.
This dilemma of false self-identification is the reason many Africans see little value in themselves and are not drawing from their own creativity. Too many Africans remain dependent on the crumbs of others. This is mental slavery.