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TESTIMONY: WE FIGHT Part 3

We have completed our negotiations cycle with the PP government. We have won many concessions in 2 National Budgets. Unprecedented historic promises to the Creative sector have been made- things we have fought for since Independence! We now have asked politely for implementation for a year and a half. That period of polite diplomacy is about to come to an end. Failing movement on these things we now will move to the next stage. This is how change is won. This is how a nation is built. This is how lasting institutional transformation will happen. It takes time, strategy, stubbornness, years of your life pushing paper uphill. But within that paper is the lives of tens of thousands of people. Within that paper is their ability to feed themselves and their families, to fulfil their dreams, to live their gifts to the fullest of their ability. Within that paper is the golden country- Iere– land of the hummingbird- the shining renaissance Trinidad and Tobago that must emerge out of the corrupt crushed egg that politicians and the greedy have made of this place…

Why do we do it? Because we must! Because no one else will… Read the rest of this entry

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Citizen activists

Oxford Dictionary defines “activism” as “the policy or action of using vigorous campaigning to bring about political or social change”. Now there are all kinds of people labelled activists.

There are nameless people who toil in communities for decades without whom those communities would collapse within seconds. There are NGOs who draw down massive grants year after year and you are hard-pressed to see the work they do.

There are activists who appear whenever a cause is popular—and as soon as the cameras disappear they melt into the shadows.

There are “activists” who appear only when certain governments are in power— and go silent when others are there. There are some who are in activism to “eat ah food”.

And then there are activists who are passionate for change because they are possessed by an idea of a better way. They “see” the vision of the transformed community in a way others can’t… Read the rest of this entry

TESTIMONY: WE FIGHT Part 2 (CITIZEN ACTIVISTS)

Oxford dictionary defines ‘activism’ as ‘the policy or action of using vigorous campaigning to bring about political or social change’. Now there are all kinds of people labelled activists. There’re nameless people who toil in communities for decades without whom those communities would collapse within seconds… There’re NGOs who draw down enormous grants for years- and you’re hard-pressed to see the work they do. There’re activists who appear whenever a cause is popular- and as soon as the cameras disappear they melt into the shadows. There’re ‘activists’ who appear only when certain governments are in power- and go silent when others are there. There’re some who are in activism to ‘eat ah food.’

And then there’re activists who are passionate for change because they are possessed by an idea of a better way. They ‘see’ the vision of the transformed community in a way others can’t. They’re relentless because they ‘dream’ the alternative reality like how some people dream a ‘mark’! If only our leaders would change destructive courses… Read the rest of this entry

TESTIMONY: WE FIGHT!

Got an urgent call from a friend after his board meeting. My name came up on their agenda. Before they got to that matter the chairman stated as fact, “Well we already know that Rubadiri received $2 million from the PP government as payback for NAPA…” Then the board discussed the new matter. So my friend on the phone- who’s supposed to know me- then said, “Diri. Yuh mean to say, so long we know each other- yuh couldn’t call yuh pardnah fuh a piece ah dat money boy?!”  This is how gossip works in T&T. Hearing this I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. Why? Because at that moment I was scrounging for 10 cent pieces to make enough money to buy $2. bus tickets. So broken was I in the wake of the victimization that followed my activism.

The sacrifices and victimisation that follow activism are real. Not the least of which is the destruction of your name by carefully planted gossip. I’ve heard myself called con-man, thief, spy, upstart, and a paid member of at least 3 opposing political parties. My imaginary gossip self lives a much more exciting life than I do!… The real me lived on $100 a week for a year and a half after a wave of victimization- which came after my activism made certain politician’s and their friends lives difficult. Hundreds of thousands of dollars owed to me were withheld, gunmen showed up at my office, laptops were stolen after Commission of Enquiry hearings… I had to close down my business, send employees home. I survived on the charity of friends, settled back home on my mother’s miraculous cooking. You ever try to live on $100? A week? As an adult? In Trinidad in the 21st century? So when people want to talk about me ‘profiting from activism’- or from some imaginary payback from the PP government, I have to laugh… Read the rest of this entry