“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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Having unfortunately witnessed many crimes in my life I can now say that the most grievous next to murder must be “waste”. Having battled for 15 years for small budgets to enact transformative plans for disenfranchised communities and the cultural sector (plans outstanding for eight generations) it’s sickening to watch hundreds of millions thrown away on pointless twat that evaporates the moment it’s launched. During the oil and gas boom of the Manning era it is estimated over $300 billion was spent at just state level. What do we have to show for it? How has the landscape been transformed in terms of capacity? How many empowered and moved into the middle class and beyond?
This repeating tragedy haunted me throughout the entire $100 million spend on the 50th Independence anniversary whilst new millionaires were minted and many “eat ah food” veterans gilded.
The problem is, in the public’s mind money was spent on “art” — and since most was mediocre, ugly and amateurish, or pretty but fleeting — people conclude that “art wastes money”. This misrepresentation of art because of ministerial ignorance of what it is — and art’s use as a funnel between the Treasury and certain people’s friends, family and constituencies must end. It’s an insult to real artists, real art, and its potential to transform consciousness, communities, and the economy. Read the rest of this entry
Poor blighted country… Trinidad and Tobago seems to have a generational curse of tragic buffoon politicians who continually bungle the relatively simple job of facilitating the energy and development of a nation blessed with billions of dollars of oil and gas wealth, a paradisical climate, and an unprecedented legacy of heroism, and creative and sporting genius. One political genetic flaw seems to be pure naked greed. Another is stupidity at the service of over-bounding ego- normally crowned by a doctorate or a lawyer’s letter. Be they corrupt or dunce, they have made a mess of us… Sadly ‘they do not know that they do not know’…
On one side we have brilliant national plans dreamed by our visionary class. On the other we have the flat-footed cluelessness of our political class who’ve now dragged a shining Republic down into the squalor of a ghetto of spirit. Nowhere was this incompetence more clearly on show than in the rolling out of the nation’s 50th anniversary celebrations.
2 years ago in Budget negotiations with the Honourable PM and Ministers I mentioned our impending 50th anniversary. Most did not know. This might’ve been the beginning of their planning… Read the rest of this entry