A paper delivered at the “RE-LAUNCH” OF CITIZENS’ INTERVENTION
on the TOPIC: “THE SECOND REPUBLIC- THE NEED FOR US TO RE-IMAGINE THE FUTURE IF TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO IS TO PROGRESS” by Rubadiri Victor, October 15th 2016.
“What happens to a dream deferred?
Does it dry up
Like a raisin in the sun?
Or fester like a sore–
And then run?
Does it stink like rotten meat?
Or crust and sugar over–
like a syrupy sweet?
Maybe it just sags
like a heavy load.
Or does it explode?”
What happens to a dream deferred?
—Langston Hughes, “Harlem” from Collected Poems. Copyright © 1994 by The Estate of Langston Hughes. Reprinted with the permission of Harold Ober Associates Incorporated.
THE CROWN COLONY
In the 1800s “the British decided to impose Crown Colony Government in Trinidad in which a resident Legislative Council under the authority of a Governor, could advise the British Government about Trinidad affairs- but had no effective control over the island…” The Crown Colony form of government effectively centralised all power in the governor (the Prime Minister)- but moreover it neutered all power from all representative organs in the island. We normally say we have a Westminster form of government- we do not. We are a Crown Colony with some Westminster institutions. It was during this period, from the 1850s to the 1870s, that the colonial administration, both locally and in England, formed the view that Crown Colony rule in Trinidad was best. … In 1889 the two islands were incorporated into a single crown colony. T&T would in fact be the most evolved form of the Crown Colony in the Empire.”
THE THREE SOCIETIES
Why do I begin with the fact that we are a Crown Colony when the question is Re-Imagining our Future? I begin with this fact because ‘Re-Imagining’ is the act of ‘Dreaming’ and I believe that the most important theory in analysing T&T is the Cuban theory of the 3 Societies. This is the same theory that Lloyd Best refined further into his thesis on Plantation Economics. I have pursued a different reading of the nature of The 3 Societies- and for me the most important component in societies is their relationship to the process of Dreaming.
There are 3 types of society in the New World: Read the rest of this entry
“How could he say that?!”: many would cry out! “We have a flag. An anthem. A coat of arms. Some watchwords…” Yes, this is true… But by now we all secretly know that a flag, anthem, coat of arms, and watchwords do not a nation make. We are increasingly aware of how little those do to hold a People together… “Yes”, someone else says, “but we have all these Festivals, these foods, these heroes and victories, all these hundreds of geniuses who have struggled and strived for ideals clustered around a sense of a place, and an idea called Trinidad & Tobago! Surely those things make us a nation!” Yes- possibly… But point me to any of those things now. Right now. At this moment. In your community? In your home? In any of your villages? In any of your major towns? In the nation’s capital?… Where is this Nation full of wonder that you speak of? Where is your evidence?!…
Is T&T then a nation that exists only in people’s memories? Okay. A virtual nation could be a modern phenomenon! But then, what of those without any memory of those thousands of sequins of history of which you speak- the 95% who have no iota of clue about this Band of the Year national legacy of wonder? Are they- like Donald Trump’s immigrants- to be excommunicated, tagged, and deported? Thrown out of de band? Where then is this nation of which you speak?…
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Place: Communications Workers Hall, Henry Street, Port of Spain
Date: Tuesday 20th March 2016
Conveners: ACTT & FITUN
Present: Joseph Remy President FITUN; Rubadiri Victor President ACTT; Alette Williams National Dance Association/ACTT member; Ashton Cunningham Fire Services/FITUN member
The Artists’ Coalition is calling on the Honourable Prime Minister and the government of Trinidad and Tobago to utilise Culture and the Creative Industries: as the arrowhead industries to lead the Diversification thrust of the nation; as an instrument to deal with crime; and as the force to cushion the blow of the recession for working class communities in the next 3 years,
- The Creative Industries are the second largest industries on planet Earth with earnings of $2.2 Trillion annually recorded since 2001 with a then growth rate of 5% (Hopkins 2001).
- The UK just released their Creative Industry data for 2015 and recorded that they were now earning £230.4 million (TT $2.3 billion) a day (!) from that industry.
- That industry’s growth rate of over 8% is many a percentage point over their traditional industries like energy and manufacturing.
- ACTT believes that the local Creative Sector could raise its annual foreign exchange contributions to the economy from its current plateau of $1.5 billion to over $6 billion+ in 5 short years.
The Minister of Finance has said that the current recession will last until 2019. ACTT has crafted a 3 year plan to grow the local Creative Sector geometrically whilst mapping the entire process. ACTT sees the initiative rolling-out alongside a Buy Local/Economic Patriotism initiative it will be partnering with other stakeholders on. The Creative Industry initiatives are critical because the country has invested billions in subsidising Arts education through GATE and the Academy of the Performing Arts- and is now losing its best graduates to Brain Drain because it has invested nothing in facilitating an Industry to receive these graduates. Read the rest of this entry
On Independence morning 2015 thousands of citizens flocked to the Queen’s Park Savannah and surroundings to see and feel evidence of their Republic. I too was looking for it in the live broadcast. And at times I glimpsed it: in the dedication of the brown faces in their uniforms, and in the applause of pride by the gathered population in their national colours… It was as if I briefly saw her in a back room whilst I was being escorted elsewhere… And yes, I wept at those times when I glimpsed the battered beauty of the Nation on the floor of her torture room, draped in her flag, awaiting rescue… Still beautiful and defiant despite it all… And I kept looking until the parade ended, constantly looking for those glances of her. The Nation…
And I understand the thing that drives those thousands to the streets of the capital. The need to have the nation affirmed. To witness it the only way it ever evidences itself- in temporary pageant. In event. Live!..
Live… She appears in the assemblage and marching of dedicated local troops in single file; or in the live footage of the Soca Warriors on a field in Germany with their hands on their hearts whilst the National Anthem blares and our flag waves for 2 billion people to see, and we cry, and wear Soca Warrior stickers on our cars till the paint and memory fades… Or we sense her, live again, when we witness a brilliant costume in Carnival, Hosay, or Ramleela, or when we collectively hear a great Road March… Or when another sportsman or artists reminds us that there is something called Trinidad and Tobago, something out there, an idea, a rhythm, a capacity to joke, wine, and lime… A unique form of humanity. A Magic. A thing. A thing that awaits me to complete itself… That awaits us… A lightning we have not yet bottled, not yet given back to ourself as a Gift. Something we have failed to construct a House for. Something we can only feel- Live!
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So whilst the Procurement Bill- which will ensure public oversight over how politicians spend public money- languishes in Limbo in Parliament, a pick-up side Constitutional Amendment Bill speeds through and is passed faster than you can say ‘34’…
It is terrifying that a movement as profound and globally significant as Trinidad and Tobago’s Constitutional Reform movement could be sabotaged so casually, quickly, and consciously as what we have just witnessed in the last dark days of August… For let’s get it straight- the world is in the throes of several upheavals because of the failure of Western forms of governance sculpted in the last 300 years. I am not overstating the case to say that some of the ideas by T&T’s most visionary constitutional reform champions are ideas the entire world needs now like oxygen.
In the last 30 years T&T’s Reform movement has borrowed ideas from the world for adoption- like Campaign Finance Reform and Local Government Reform, but a handful of suggested Reforms are brilliant original ideas which are globally applicable. In the last week however we have witnessed every single one of those innovations completely and utterly ignored in favour of a series of ‘now-come’ measures meant to increase the power of political elites and reinforce the psychosis of a paralysed two-party system… Late champions of real Constitutional Reform- Dennis Pantin, Sheila Solomon, and Lloyd Best- not to mention senior Constitutional architects and monitors like Hugh Wooding and Karl Hudson Phillips must be spinning in their graves!
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