The rants I am reading on Facebook and the ads I saw in the media before and following the recent General Election were not unpredictable but they are dangerous. The rages, from both ethnicities, are masking an ominous demon grinning at us like hell. And that demon is getting stronger.
In 1982, after elections the previous year, calypsonian Dennis Franklin (Merchant) wrote “Let us build a nation together.”
Now the election bacchanal die away,
In short, this is what I have to say
Let us forget spites and grudges and concentrate
Come, let us sit and try to relate
Because now, more than ever, we must show
Discipline, Tolerance and Production
To build a strong and better nation
I say that is the main foundation.
Everybody knows that our islands were colonised by Europeans and then populated by immigrants who were exploited for backbreaking work. There was no consideration for building a homogeneous society. The fearsome beast had one intention. Divide and Rule. With the advent of elections, we have become even more fractured.
The First Peoples were virtually alienated from the rest of the population. The beast brought Africans, Chinese, Portuguese, Indians, Syrians and Lebanese in successive waves, herded them together, but for a long time the Africans and Indians have languished at the bottom.
Now these two least considered communities are being led into an apparent war that no none but the beast will win. So Ramsaran’s products are being boycotted. Until? We have let KFC get away with a warped ad for Emancipation Day. Until? Aboud from Starlite like wise did what he did. Until? Diana “Tea Shop” Hunt said what she said. Until?
There were some past incidents when we were able to escape from the ravages of the beast.
There was an African/Indian unity forged during the Jihahji Massacre (Hosay Massacre) of October 30, 1884 when both groups marched together to San Fernando. Raviji commemorates the march every year.
There were joint efforts of sugar and oil workers in the 1930’s which climaxed with the historic labour uprising led by Tubal Uriah Butler, Adrian Cola Rienzi (born Krishna Deonarine), closely associated with the Laventille based Negro Welfare Cultural and Social Association (NWCSA) among whose founders were Elma Francois, Christina King and Jim Barrette.
In 1970, during the Revolution (Black Power) the late Chief Servant Makandal Daaga and NJAC led the nation toward a better vision. The banners carried before and during on the March 12 demonstration to Caroni read “Indians and Africans Unite.”
Between 1969, when NJAC was formed and the first demonstrations in 1970, NJAC had a very strong connection with East Indian communities. NJAC was involved at Five Rivers together with Chan Maharaj and the National Freedom Organisation; with sugar farmers at Montserrat and with East Indian workers during the Bus Strike.
In the 1990s Liseli Daaga, then President of NJAC, was elected director of the NJAC inspired Caribbean Institute of Race Relations which comprised such distinguished persons as the late Archbishop Anthony Pantin, the late Dr J O’Neil Lewis and Brother Noble Khan. It had a novel approach to race relations starting with work in the secondary schools. I wish it could be revived.