The Raison D’etre of the Peoples National Movement Restated

The Raison D’etre of the Peoples National Movement Restated

Photo : Kamal Persad

In the midst of the Christmas and Carnival seasons, especially the Nermal “Massive” Gosein “Rowlee Mudda Count” chutney song and controversy, Keith Subero, Express Monday Columnist, in his New Year’s Day column, gave the Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley, advice on how to proceed in 2018 and the future. He advised that the message since 2015 on the economy has been delivered and “it is now time to focus on our societal ills and for your own survival 2020-your party and electoral base.” (A Plea To The PM.” Express, January, 2018, p 18.)

He further wrote:

T&T is an amorphous place, experiencing both a state of “in-betweenity” and an age of dissonance. I have written before that you are the Prime Minister, but there is need to acknowledge your role as the titular leader of the scattered and disoriented African tribe…you need to re-examine the society as a whole, its faces and deep-rooted tribes.”

This is a position Keith Subero has repeatedly stated in his columns. It is a position repeated by Dr Selwyn Cudjoe, Sunday Express Columnist, and Theodore Lewis, occasional writer in the Express. One must note that the Express does not entertain views from an Indians perspective or have Indian columnists or writers within its pages.

The question which emerges from Keith Subero’s call to the Prime Minister Rowley to focus on Africans in the country, as he is “the titular head or leader of the …African tribe,” that a PNM Prime Minister is also the leader of blacks in the country, and that the government must be cognisant of this reality, that it must run the affairs in the interest of blacks.

The record is there to show that the PNM and its leaders have been doing that since 1956 when the PNM assumed control of the government under the leadership of Eric Williams. Eric Williams ruled the country for twenty-five years uninterrupted years (1956-1981) and the PNM was only defeated in 1986 by a coalition of parties-The National Alliance of Reconstruction (NAR) headed by A.N.R. Robinson, a former member of the PNM, who left the PNM in 1970 in the midst of the “Black Power” challenge to Dr Eric Williams and the PNM, and the black controlled regiment rebellion.

During its long uninterrupted 30 year reign, Eric Williams and the PNM ruled Trinidad and Tobago in the interest of its supporters.  Its policies in Housing, State Employment, in the public service and huge state enterprise sectors, education and scholarships, state sponsored and supported culture in Carnival and steel pan, employment in the security services-Police, Coast Guard, Regiment, et al were geared towards the advance of the black supporters of the PNM. Its intention was the creation of local black professional middle class who effectively replaced and displaced whites.

Indians and Hindus supported the opposition parties and a losing of election meant being licked out of securing the benefits of the state. Eric Williams in 1958 labelled   Indians a “recalcitrant and divisive minority” and a danger to the black West Indian nation. Late in 1961 he labelled Indians ‘lick spittle’ of white minority because a few prominent whites sided with the DLP to oppose the PNM. “A few PNM Indians,” a term coined by Williams, joined the PNM and attempted to give the PNM a multi-racial appearance: the Saiths,  Mohammeds, Ojah –Maharaj, later joined by others.

Indian survival advance were done to their own efforts, in self-reliance. Thousands of whites and Indians left the country in the mid-1950s and 1960s, to settle abroad, similar to what subsequently occurred under the dictator Forbes Burnham in Guyana, minority leader supported by Black Caribbean small islanders.

Today the black community, according to black ideologues and writers, is in a dilemma and crisis-hence the call by Keith Subero, for Prime Minister Keith Rowley, to assume his real role as “the titular leader of the scattered and disoriented African tribe.” There is the tendency to “blame Indians” and others for this black crisis. Few have acknowledged rule in Trinidad and Tobago has been continuous under the PNM: Eric Williams (1956-1981), George Chambers (1981-1986), A.N.R. Robinson (1986-1991), Patrick Manning (1991-1995 and again (2002/2007 to 2010 and now Keith Rowley (2015 and continuing). Yet there is the tendency to blame and scape-goat Kamla Persad-Bissessar (2010-2015) for the present ills of the society as Dr Rowley did in his address to the nation on Sunday 7th January, 2018.

G.A. Marques in a letter to the Express and published as “Letter of the Day” wrote:

“Any unknowing outsider looking at the profile of the Government administration her would immediately draw the conclusion that Trinidad is made up of on citizens of African descent. This is despite the fact the two races here are split down the middle…”

“Each side has highly educated and qualified professionals in almost all administrative fields. However, the political administration here is overtaken with Afro-Trinidadians in most important offices of authority. They are even prominent in our overseas embassies.” (One-sided Political Image Sends Wrong Message- Sunday Express 07, 2018 p 15.)

He lists the top positions in the country filled by persons “all of Afro-Trinidadian descent, yet“ despite this political make-up on particular group of citizens, there has been no real progress in living standards  of the ordinary Afro-Trinidadian citizens in the strongholds of the PNM, the political party who is supposed to represent Afro-Trinidadian here.” He highlighted the crime situation among blacks, and even black children. He blamed the “one-sided political control and pattern of our politics which now exists, and has been perpetually implemented by the PNM since our independence.” He called for changes to be made.

Black ideologues are calling for more PNM state intervention on behalf of blacks. This is nothing new-it was the rallying cry of Black Power marches. In effect, their call for greater black state role in the economy and society was in effect, a black totalitarian call.

The hidden agenda in this situation is to struggle for justice and equality from black control of power, and to create and equitable society. Indian based parties must strive to control state power and undo the black power structure in the interest of all citizens. Their governments must show genuine power-sharing arrangements.

Indians must be self-reliant, never depending on state largesse. Education and business enterprise must be continued to be fully embraced and engage in. Less state control and intervention must be advocated and less state dependency which has infected all citizens. The role and function of the state must be clearly articulated in these plural societies.