The Exclusion of Indians by the PNM

The Exclusion of Indians by the PNM

Photo : Sundar Popo

The namimg of streets and public buildings and the honouring of personalities should reflect the ethnic diversity that is Trinidad and Tobago. However, when the PNM is in power it appears to ignore the contribution of the Indians and focus mainly on what I would call the Creoles. Creole embraces the Blacks, French Creoles, Chinese, Whites and Syrians-the true Trinis -excluding the children of the lagoon.

Only recently the Cabinet took a decision to rename Queen Street, Port of Spain after Penny Commissiong  and I welcome that. Penny was the first Trinidadian and first black woman to win the Miss Universe title in 1977.  And without a doubt she is a beauty all the way!

One cannot help but notice that recently another Afro-Trinidadian was honoured in the person of Calypso Rose. Again, I say that she is most deserving of such an accolade because she recently won a World Music Album of the Year title in France. Also she has been singing and writing calypso since age 15 and have composed more than 800 songs. Without a doubt she is most deserving of having her name on a Caribbean Airline Jet.

One of the early actions of the Rowley government was the purchasing of Cazabon paintings and the mounting of a display at the Diplomatic Center for public viewing. Again, I welcome such an act amidst the criticisms in Talk Shows that the economy is in recession.

Where are the children of the lagoon in the PNM radar? The PNM has recognised Cazabon and purchased his paintings. Why are Issiah Boodhoo’s   paintings or that of Shastri Maharaj not on display? Over the years many State enterprises proudly purchased -with public funds- the paintings of Leroy Clarke and it made me wonder if he was the only painter living in the country!

Mighty Sparrow has received so many accolades that makes one wonder if there are no other artistes. His awards and memorabilia were on display at the Ministry of Culture but the question must be asked: Is Sparrow the only singer in Trinidad and Tobago?  Is calypso the only song genre in T&T?

Photo : Mighty Sparrow

What is the government doing to recognise the contribution of musicians such as Chander Bali of the Naw Jawaan Orchestra or Narsaloo Ramaya? I know that some would protest “but who are they…I don’t know them?” I also don’t know Devon Matthhews but his death has made headline news in all the media houses. I am not a lover or follower of soca music. However, if the soca fraternity believes that Devon Matthew has made a great contribution, then I should have the decency to let it be.

It was the Couva Tabaquite Talparo Regional Corporation (CTTRC) that named the cremation site at Waterloo after the legendary singer Issac Yankaran. Had such a move not been taken by the CTTRC, there would have not been a single site in memory of this talented son of the soil. Also, the Narsaloo Ramaya Marg was the initiative of the Chagunas Borough Corporation and the National Council of Indian Culture (NCIC).

It was the Kamla-led government that named SAPA after the late Sundar Popo. Had the PNM commissioned the opening of the SAPA I doubt very much that the name Sundar Popo would have been installed.

It was a private group that erected the monument of Sundar Popo at Debe. During the project the Ministry of Culture showed little interest. It was a challenge to find a “home” for Popo months after the statue was built. Finally, Sundar Popo was allowed to squat opposite the Office of the MP for Oropouche East, next to a rum shop!

Again, the Peoples Partnership named the airport in Tobago after A.N.R. Robinson and there was no moaning and grumbling. When the NAR was in power the Learning Resource Center at Mac Bean was named after Dr Rudranath Capildeo. That would have never happened under a PNM regime.

Why is our international airport not being named after Basdeo Panday? Why is our national library not being named after Nobel Laureate Sir Vidia Naipaul? Why are  there always so much negatives when these names are suggested? Where are these protests coming from?

The PNM has no room for the children of the lagoon on the canvas of Trinidad and Tobago. Interestingly, what provides the PNM with such brazen attitude is that they always succeed in getting a few Indians to sit ring side and applaud them. It is these token Indians that make the PNM so brazen to ignore the contribution of the largest segment of the population.

Could you imagine that one letter writer (21/07/17-Express) welcomed the change of name of Queen Street to Penny Commissiong and went on to suggest that Duke Street be named after The Mighty Duke and Prince Street after Prince Bartholomew, the former T&T cricketer.

The PNM would always succeed in these brazen acts because they have their ring side apaches to applaud and legitimize their actions. We need to always be mindful of this phenomenon when we stand to fight for social justice in this land.