Why is Chutney not represented in NCC?
Photo : Dool Hanomansingh
Where is the chutney in Carnival? I read with interest the appointment of a new Board for the National Carnival Commission (NCC) but did not see an Indian on the Board. Why were George Singh or Vijay Ramlal not appointed a member to represent chutney? The PNM government led by Dr Keith Rowley is making it crystal clear that Carnival is a black-man thing and that chutney music is not part of Carnival. No even a creolised Indian who joins with PNM in chorusing racist slogans at those Indians that speaks out against racism has been included.
These are the Commissioners:
Winston Peters, Chairman; Dr Suzanne Burke, Commissioner; Gervon Abraham, Commissioner; Jacqueline Springer-Dillon, Commissioner; Darian Marcelle, Commissioner; Lutalo Masimba, President of Trinbago Unified Calypsonians Organisation and Keith Diaz, President of Pan Trinbago.
While Dr Eric Williams was no lover of pan, calypso or carnival he understood the value of these art forms to rally the black masses. It was under his watch as Prime Minister that the National Carnival Commission was born with the aim to rally and unite the black people using carnival as the social glue.
Dr Keith Rowley is a black-nationalist leader similar to Dr Eric Williams, the founder and first political leader of the PNM. Dr Eric Williams’ justification for the PNM was to correct the historical injustices suffered by the blacks and anyone who came on his path toward that mission was deemed “recalcitrant minority” or attempting to bring back “massa day”. Dr Keith Rowley has now opted for that failed path of Dr Eric Williams to consolidate his shaky leadership within the PNM.
Indian culture has not been promoted by the State with the PNM coming to power in 1956. There is no policy status given to Indian culture which is left to the whim and fancy of the Ministry of Culture to provide a token sum, if any. For example, the last Phagwa Festival (2018) was not provided with a red cent. Funding for Divali remains miniscule and usually comes after the event. Yet when the Indian community complains about this blatant discrimination it is branded racists, divisive and unpatriotic.
Rowley is resurrecting the failed policies of Dr Eric Williams. By placing Winston Peters, a former Cabinet Minister in the People’s Partnership government as Chairman, Rowley is sending a clear message-race first. This is consistent with his retention of Anthony Smart as Chairman of FCB and Robert Mayers as Chairman of TSTT. Both Smart and Mayers were former high ranking members of the NAR government with the former serving as Attorney General. We even witnessed the retention of Ian Atherly as Chairman of PLIPDECO. Not surprisingly, on the death of Patrick Manning Ian Atherly expressed regrets that he did not make amends with Patrick Manning!
It is the old PNM way-black people first; overlook their shortcomings. This was amply demonstrated by Caribbean leaders in their approach to the political crisis in Guyana in the 1970s and 1980s. Not a single word of protest from black academics or politicians against the dictatorship of Forbes Burnham. The black leaders aided and abetted Forbes Burnham’s racist policies that ran Guyana to the ground rather than to agitate for a democratically elected Cheddi Jagan in power. It took President Jimmy Carter to restore democracy to Guyana in 1992.
It is not competency and efficiency that dictates selections to serve in cabinet or \ state companies or ambassadors in Trinidad and Tobago under a PNM government; it is pure race with a token (creolised) Indian like a Rambharat or a Deyalsingh in the political pealau. The nationalization of the bauxite and sugar industries in Guyana in the 1970s resulted in the appointment of blacks to senior positions in these state enterprises. Like Petrotrin today, those companies took a nose dive. It was never about returning a profit. It was always about empowering the blackman-jacket and tie, cars and dining in Pegasus and Hyatt.
Despite these political appointments, the black community and the nation are now worse off. It is skills and knowledge that generate wealth. However, this PNM government has contrived to introduce property tax as the mechanism to pay black people in high offices and to sponsor Jazz Festival in Tobago. No audited statement from the THA for the past 12 years! $10 million went missing from THA and now NIB cannot account for $300m. This is what happens when PNM takes power in T&T. They are a law to themselves!
The ghost of Eric Williams needs to be exorcised for this country to move forward. Rowley is messing with the dead when he continues to appoint blacks not because of their competence but because of their blackness. He is following the failed policies of Dr Eric Williams, an individual who has sown the seeds of divisiveness and vindictiveness in the politics and social life of this multi-ethnic society
It is my fervent hope that the constitution would be amended to have parliament overseer the appoint of chairmen of state enterprises and ambassadors. There must be an end to black emotionalism being perpetuated as economic policy of a government. Such policies have failed before and are going to fail now and again. Is our PM thinking!