Passing of Chief Servant Makandal Daaga

Makandal Daaga
Deceased: Makandal Daaga

National Joint Action Committee’s News Release

The Political Leader and members of the National Joint Action Committee (NJAC) along with Mrs. Liseli Daaga and family, sadly announce the passing of Chief Servant Makandal Daaga (formerly Geddes Granger), founder of NJAC and former Cultural Ambassador to CARICOM. Chief Servant Makandal Daaga passed away at the Port of Spain General Hospital at 1.35pm today (Monday 8th August 2016). Bro. Daaga would have turned 81 years on Saturday.

Bro. Daaga leaves to mourn his wife Sis. Liseli Daaga, four children (Kariomana. Akhenaton, Nefertari and Piankhi) and five grand-children, as well as the entire NJAC family and all conscious people in the region and the world over. Chief Servant Makandal Daaga was awarded the Order of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago in 2013, in recognition of his selfless sacrifice and service to Trinidad and Tobago and the region. Bro Daaga led the Trinidad and Tobago Revolution of 1970, a movement which brought fundamental change to the Political, Social, Cultural, Spiritual and Economic landscape of the region.

Chief Servant Makandal Daaga has left an indelible mark on the history and consciousness of the people of Trinidad and Tobago, the Caribbean and the world. His undying love for the people, his selflessness, total commitment and sacrifice will always remain in the hearts and minds of all those who knew him or knew of him.

His passing represents not so much the end of an era, but the recall of an era which was characterised by a sincere search for self identity, a deep sense of nationalism and regionalism and a preparedness to sacrifice self interest and even life, for the attainment of these goals. Whenever the name Makandal Daaga is mentioned, it stirs up the recollection of all these ideals. This will continue to be so, even after his passing.

May He Rest In Peace.

A condolence book will be opened from 10.00 am tomorrow (Tuesday 9th August), at NJAC’s Headquarters #40 Duke Street, Port-of-Spain, for all those who wish to express their sympathies.

13 thoughts on “Passing of Chief Servant Makandal Daaga”


    Trinidad and Tobago has lost a national treasure with the death of Makandal Daaga, former Prime Minister and Political Leader of the UNC and People’s Partnership, Kamla Persad-Bissessar said Monday.

    The statement comes following the sad news of Daaga’s passing. Daaga was the founder of the National Joint Action Committee (NJAC) and one of five leaders who signed the Fyzabad Accord leading up to the 2010 General Election which saw the birth of the People’s Partnership.

    Daaga was appointed Ambassador Extraordinaire by the Kamla Persad-Bissessar Administration after over four decades in active politics and activism.

    According to Persad-Bissessar: “His long contribution dates back to the pre-Independence era, and in 1962 when he formed the Pegasus party, before later forming the NJAC. His journey stands as a monument to service, determination and fortitude.”

    Daaga formed the National Joint Action Committee, in response to discrimination against Caribbean students at Sir George Williams University (now Concordia), in Montreal Canada.

    Persad-Bissessar said: “When in April 2010 he said, ‘my dreams have come true… never again would you be servants in your own country, this land is yours.’, it was the fulfilment of a long-held vision for a nation that could stand together as one people, above all other differences celebrated by our diversity.”

    “He was one of those elders whose advice I always treasured, as one who was already a seasoned veteran by the time I entered politics many years ago.”

    “It was, in part, his vision that saw the rise of the People’s Partnership and the Fyzabad Accord which saw the first coalition Government in our history standing strong for its full term.”

    The former Prime Minister stated: “One of his most timeless philosophies was ‘the people is the Government’, which was the talk he walked in his long march to political power, and in his time as Ambassador Extraordinaire.”

    “What it meant to me was that true power resides in the men, women and young people whose lives we influence when we hold power, and therefore a vision for the future and mode of Government must come from those very people,” Persad-Bissessar said.

    “As a pioneering politician, a social activist, a political elder and a Statesman, his forthright wisdom and boundless energy will be missed, and will never be forgotten. His fight was for the people, and in his life time, he was able to win power and indeed, did all he could to govern for the people. We are deeply saddened and send our hope for his family for God’s hand in this time of tragedy.”

    Kamla Persad-Bissessar, SC, MP

    Leader of the Opposition

  2. Acting Prime Minister, the Honourable Colm Imbert, offers condolences on the passing of Makandal Daaga

    On behalf of the Government of Trinidad and Tobago, I join with the national community in extending heartfelt condolences to the Daaga family in this time of grief.

    Whether adopting the role of revolutionary, rebel, leader, visionary or Chief Servant, Makandal Daaga always had at the heart of his beliefs the empowerment of the people of Trinidad and Tobago, particularly those he felt to be unjustly denied avenues to prosperity and opportunity.

    His leadership of the Black Power Movement in the 1970s brought about far-reaching changes which have helped to shape the social and political reality of Trinidad and Tobago.

    May he be granted eternal peace.

  3. Prime Minister Rowley extends condolences on the passing of Mr Makandal Daaga

    I wish to express condolences to the family, friends and colleagues on the passing of Mr Makandal Daaga.

    Mr Daaga made his mark as a political activist in the 1970s as leader of the Black Power Movement. He was not afraid to challenge the status quo, speak up against injustice and advocate for equality.

    Even in the latter years of his life, he continued to be a presence on the political landscape of Trinidad and Tobago, which undoubtedly attested to the fact that his interest in the development of our twin island State, never waned.

    I join the rest of the national community in mourning the loss of Mr Daaga and hold up his loved ones in prayer.

    May he rest in peace.


    It is with a sense of sadness that I heard of the sudden passing of one of our country’s most pioneering, enduring, powerful and influential political, social and civil rights activists, Makandal Daaga, Chief Servant of the National Joint Action Committee, earlier today.

    More than any other leader in our nation’s history, Makandal Daaga will go down as the truest example of our nation’s conscience and its ultimate hope for the realization of complete and uncompromised freedom for all of the people of Trinidad and Tobago.

    It is hard for me to imagine Trinidad and Tobago as we know it today—a country where people essentially live under a functioning democracy that, by and large, holds fast to the tenets of liberty and equality—without Mr Daaga’s very existence.

    Born in Laventille to parents who were themselves patriots and activists, Mr Daaga remained a resident of the area through its unending decades of turmoil, poverty, crime and often, desolation, determined to prove that the place of his birth—having given the nation so many great academics and cultural and literary icons— would always reflect the hope of betterment for the human condition that defined his very existence and raison d’etre.

    As our country entered its first months of Independence, Mr Daaga would stake his claim in the movement for ultimate and complete social and economic equality for the people whose foreparents, through slave and indenture toil, built out nation’s economy, when he formed a patriotic and influential organisation, PEGASUS, which stands out in our history as the first ever body to give National Awards to citizens of every creed and race long before the formal National Awards Ceremony was introduced by Government.

    As President of the Guild of Undergraduates at the University of the West Indies, St Augustine, Mr Daaga’s vision ensured that students gained the right to have an active say in the goings on at the University, and during these years he also formed the revolutionary NJAC to combat racial discrimination against non-whites in the Caribbean.

    This ushered in his official role as one of the leaders of our country’s most pivotal and lasting social and political revolutions of all times—the Black Power Revolution of the early 1970s—where Mr Daaga served prison sentences on four occasions in his battle against discriminatory Colonial systems which were being perpetuated by the Government of the day against the dominant nonwhite ethnic groups in our society.

    For this pivotal role in that defining era, Mr Daaga endured many years of strong political persecution throughout the Caribbean region, being refused entry into almost all Caribbean territories at one time for his stance, yet he never wavered in his ideals and commitment to fighting for justice for his countrymen and women.

    For men like myself, who were born and raised in these turbulent years of social, political and economic change years; who, as young professionals, bore the brunt of these very discriminatory social norms at the time, and who, in my own case, joined politics in the 1980s, determined to make some form of contribution to our nation to repay the hard, dedicated and unacknowledged toil of our parents who had worked the lands and oil fields to give us better lives and social mobility through education, we cannot ever deny the influence and impact active or subconscious, that this great man’s life and philosophies had on us.

    Mr Daaga’s courage was surpassed by none and in many ways, his uncompromising and tenacious stance and battle for his ultimate ideal of freedom and equality— for which he sacrificed every possible social and financial advancement and comfort available to men of his brilliance and promise that could have then been attained through of academic and professional titles and political office—demonstrated to us what true conviction should be, and indeed, what all persons who call themselves patriots should ultimately aspire to be, for he was a man who truly fought “not for glory nor for wealth nor honours; but only and alone we fight for freedom, which no good man surrenders but with his life,” according to the words of the freedom fighters of medieval Scotland recorded in The Declaration Of Arbroath in 1320.

    As for his legacy, it remains unsurpassed by any previous leader of our nation and indeed, may very well outshine that of any future leader to come.

    The many years he spent being shunned, even persecuted, by his contemporaries who held powerful political office locally and regionally for being a living embodiment of the very ideals of social and economic justice, for being, in fact, our nation’s most enduring social conscience, will always be overshadowed by the eternity of his tremendous impact on all aspects of our everyday life.

    Indeed, the very philosophies that he epitomized will forever endure, for they have long been woven into the very fabric of our modern day society and will thus eternally resonate in our collective history, culture and conscience, for, as was once so aptly captured by Calypso icon, the Mighty Chalkdust (Hollis Liverpool), in his tribute “Say Thanks To Daaga”:

    “The Job you now hold though you have no GCE,
    You could now walk tall though you didn’t go to CIC
    You ranking high in the police or army
    Before 1970 it just couldn’t be
    Mister Supervisor
    Foreman or manager
    You on top the ladder
    Sister say thanks to Granger
    Sister Say thanks to Daaga.”

    I personally take great humility and pride in knowing that I served, in the past five years, as part of Government he once endorsed and which finally honored him as a Caricom Ambassador Extraordinaire, a fitting tribute to the man whose battle for our nation’s collective soul and our democracy’s truest essence brought us to the place of freedom and equality we can proudly call home today.

    May Makandal Daaga’s great soul rest in eternal peace and may his family, friends and followers in the NJAC and wider public take comfort in his tremendous, unparalleled legacy, all the while being blessed and comforted in God’s gracious Arms in this time of grief.

    Dr. Tim Gopeesingh,
    Member of Parliament for Caroni East

    Caroni East Constituency Office
    Lot 54 Dyette Estate, Southern Main Road, Cunupia

  5. Liseli: Daaga strong in belief in unity of the races
    Makandal Daaga was strong in his belief in unity of the races to the end, and he encouraged people to know their history. This was how widow Liseli ­Daaga yesterday chose to remember the legacy her late husband…

    Daaga remembered
    Kafra Kambon, head of the Emancipation Support Committee, one of Makandal Daaga’s right hand men during the 1970s Black Power revolution, first met him when he was president of the guild at the University of the West Indies (UWI) in the late 1960s.

    NJAC members vow to continue Daaga’s dream
    Makandal Daaga’s words will still linger on among the elders of the National Joint Action Committee (NJAC) when he called on them to represent the soul of the movement.

    TTMA: Servant of the people
    The Trinidad and Tobago Manufacturers Association (TTMA) yesterday praised National Joint Action Committee (NJAC) Chief Servant Makandal Daaga as a “great servant of the people.” In a statement, the TTMA acknowledged the role played by Daaga in the black power movement in TT in the 1970’s.

    Kangaloo mourns Daaga
    ACTING President Christine Kangaloo yesterday mourned the passing of former NJAC leader, Makandal Daaga.

  6. London: Daaga had an impact
    TOBAGO House of Assembly (THA) Chief Secretary Orville London yesterday said while National Joint Action Committee (NJAC) Chief Servant Makandal Daaga never held high political office, “his impact on the social and economic landscape of this country is indisputable.”

    Public figures sign condolence book
    WITH the passing, on Monday, of national icon Makandal Daaga, whose funeral will take place on Saturday, at the Queen’s Park Savannah, a series of events to honour his life and contributions have been occurring throughout Trinidad and Tobago.

    TT owes Daaga, Lee Sing
    THE freedoms enjoyed by African- Trinidadians today have a lot to do with what happened in 1970. Former mayor of Port of Spain, Louis Lee Sing, made that point yesterday at the headquarters of the National Joint Action Committee (NJAC), at Duke Street, Port of Spain…

  7. Hundreds turn out for Daaga’s farewell
    HUNDREDS turned out to pay their final respects to National Joint Action Committee (NJAC) founder Makandal Daaga, who was laid to rest yesterday on what would have been his 81st birthday.

    Chief Servant would want us to embrace his values of love, equality
    THE best tribute to founder of the National Joint Action Committee (NJAC), Makandal Daaga, would be to embrace the values of love and equality that he lived for.

    Daaga’s power to the people
    Adorned in their traditional African attire, the Daaga family stood in solidarity with hundreds of their fellow countrymen at the Grand Stand in the Queen’s Park Savannah yesterday to celebrate and remember the life of the late National Joint Action Committee (NJAC) founder and Black Power Movement leader, Makandal Daaga.

    Daaga deeply loved people of TT
    AS late revolutionary and former National Joint Action Committee (NJAC) political leader Makandal Daaga was being praised for being a patriot that helped emancipate the minds of citizens his funeral service was disrupted by the protests of controversial radio personality Ricardo “Gladiator” Welch.

  8. On behalf those who associated with Rosie Douglas of Dominica and the independence movement in that sister island we extend condolences to the family of Makandal Daaga. May his soul rest in peace and his worthy example inspire others to serve the best human values, of peace, love, unity and social justice.

  9. One of the greatest ironies in 2016 is the refusal of an acting White Prime Minister to grant Daaga a state funeral in T&T.

    1. “Grant” is the right word…

      Look, leave aside the racial mischief. The simple fact is that a state funeral is not a right. It is a privilege.

      It is granted as a matter of course to Presidents and Prime Ministers who die in office. To everyone else, it is up to the then Cabinet in office to grant the privilege.

      Not every former Prime Minister or President got it. I don’t recall Chambers getting it, nor Hochoy. Their families probably never even thought to request it.

      ANR got it by public demand. Whatever his failures or successes in office, he distinguished himself when he said, “Attack with full force!” in the matter of the Abu Bakr attempted coup. He was willing to lay down his life in service to the country, and so well deserved the privilege, whether one agreed with his politics or not.

      Manning likewise got it by public demand. He would not have got it in late 2010. But five years later the people came to recognize his selfless and indeed noble service. So he too deserved the privilege.

      Daaga by contrast, whatever his fire and thunder in 1970, and however well justified in historic terms, diminished himself by becoming willing dupe of a failed government that distinguished itself only by giving to the local lexicon, the derisive term, “eat ah food”.

      Daaga at the end was one of the “eat ah food” ministers of a t’iefing and moreover sectarian government. He betrayed his own, and his own principles. At the end he was a moral spent force, hardly heroic, rather if anything a pathetic shell of his former self.

      Therefore, there was no widespread public demand for a state funeral to be accorded him.

      In any case, he was neither President nor Prime Minister at any time in his life. Therefore, he didn’t qualify for the privilege.

      That it was accorded Manning recently, and ANR earlier, does not and cannot stand as either guiding or binding precedent.

      Imbert was quite right to deny the request, which ought not even to have been made in the first place.

      I shudder to think who next would have demanded a state funeral, citing as precedent that it was given to Daaga! No, I say thank you Acting PM Imbert for resisting whatever pressure may have been applied.

      Oh, and btw, Imbert is assuredly a creole of some variety of mixed parentage. He assuredly would not be considered “white” in today UK or US, or in apartheid South Africa past.

      So, Tman, this mischief succeeds only in showing your sectarian slip.

      I withhold my peace from you, but to others as usual I say


  10. “Daaga by contrast, whatever his fire and thunder in 1970, and however well justified in historic terms, diminished himself by becoming willing dupe of a failed government that distinguished itself only by giving to the local lexicon, the derisive term, “eat ah food”.”…….Yoruba

    You could not be more exact than that in explaining Mr. Daaga. His achievements were earth shaking, timely, historical and most of all a much needed punch to the mocked democracy which always existed in the social and economic fabric of our society. We still happen to be living in that era of hypocrisy and color consciousness. It is no where more evident than in the selection of our representative in the gymnastics competition, where the darker skinned Thema Williams was bypassed for the lighter skinned Dick. That is historical and latent color favoring that Daaga was so instrumental in exposing. No one can deny his heroics in making Trinidad and Tobago come to face it ugly racial flavoring when they denied those of the darker hue of any consideration when looking for an upwardly mobile opportunity. As a matter of fact, I also wish to commend Dr. mTim Gopeesingh for what I view as an objective commentary concerning the life of Mr. Daaga. While our view of Mr. Daaga’s life should not be painted by his politics, we must take into consideration what he says to what he does. In his latter years, the life he lived ran contrary to his heroics of the seventies. He became part of a government that saw everything wrong with a competing segment of the society. That government was framed with the same apartheid flavor that Mr. Daaga fought against, so in that sense, his legacy must take into consideration the contradictions between what he stood for in his younger life as opposed to what he participated in in his latter life. Yoruba’s descriptions of that contradiction is spot on.
    Butler fought his fights and ended up a pauper but he never contradicted the objectivity for which he lived and died. Eric Williams lived for the love of his people and he died loving his people. For those arguing that Daaga deserved the same recognition, they must come to terms that there were really two Daagas, that ran contradictory to what they want to make of his passing. On another note, while Mr. Imbert racial make up is not a distinct part of the two major groups, he represent a part of Trinidad society that was always loyal to this country’s aspirations. The French Creole, although small in population count has always shown and exhibited a loyal and contributory willingness to work towards a better Trinidad and Tobago.

    1. Thank you, Kian. You’ve laid that out better than I could…

      Maybe we needed an Imbert when all these sectarian holidays were being given out… It is off-topic to go there, but we should thank the sino-Trinis (Chinee) and the luso-Trinis (Po’tagee) in particular for showing a certain self-restraint in not pushing for their own ethnic holidays… Certainly sufficient precedent was set by weak-kneed or mischievous politicians that we could perhaps also now be celebrating Chinese “Double 10” and Po’tagee Arrival… all to the detriment of the national project and the stoking instead of sectarian fires…


    2. To suggest that a previous government of T&T ” was framed with the same apartheid flavor that Mr. Daaga fought against” is not only insulting to the late Mr. Daaga but your suggestion completely, insensitively and radically diminishes the true meaning and fierce struggles of apartheid and those who valiantly fought against it in places like South Africa…champions like Mandela.

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