In 1956, when Dr. Eric Williams took the leadership of Trinidad as Premier and then as Prime Minister with the help of Indian Muslims and Indian Christian votes, he won by one seat. Henceforth, Eric Williams and his PNM -Balisier party ruled Trinidad for the next 40 to 50 years giving his African race political and social dominance over Indians in all forms and the directions that African-Trinidadians should follow.
Dr. Eric Williams and his African PNM party decided that to bring the country together there should be NO MOTHER INDIA, NO MOTHER AFRICA, one ‘ race ‘, one language, i.e. English, same ‘GOD ‘, etc. Whether this was true or not, Dr. Eric Williams who later became the Prime Minister, paved the political and cultural pathway to destroy anything Indian with his philosophy ‘no mother India and no mother Africa.’ Yet, somehow Williams’ policies left Trinidad as a little Afrocentric island that today is struggling culturally.
The pathway Williams paved was elimination of the Canadian Missionary Schools which were more Indian ethnic based [Naparima / Presbyterian schools] and by integrating these schools with African students in the Anglican Catholic schools, and completely ignoring the building of Hindu Schools and generally their culture by only teaching languages as English, Spanish, Latin, and French but not Hindi. Religious subjects were taught but not on Hinduism or Islam.
Even though in the fifties to the eighties when most Indian parents were still then speaking Hindi and Indian children like myself were still using many Hindi words to communicate, Indians were deprived of their language and culture by way of schools and the media. Had it not been so we would be speaking Hindi today in Trinidad and Guyana. While it’s true that the Christian and Muslim Indians were finally given a priority in schools, their Hindi language was not taught and that is why Indians cannot fully comprehend and hence fully appreciate their Bollywood songs, Bhajans in their Temples and Qaseedas in mosques.
The Vedic religion is very difficult to understand in its English form. The translations are not exactly the same and the colonial translations were misunderstood or intentionally translated to give a false meaning example paap is not exactly sin, rakshasas are not exactly demons etc.
My pending question is WHY and WHAT gave Dr. Williams the right to decide what is culturally good for Indians in Trinidad? And why did Indian leaders allow Indian culture to be eroded? Whether Eric Williams’ original intentions were good to Trinidad but ended badly with Indians getting the short end of the stick with Trinidad ending up Afrocentric anyway based on the curriculums taught in school. Let’s us examine the Indian cultural dilemma.Dr. Eric Williams believed, as told by his defenders, as long as Indians can speak Hindi and be Hindu [most Indians were Hindus, all speaking Hindi in 1956] it will give rise to Indian nationalism in Trinidad with loyalty to India. This they claim isn’t racist by getting rid of Hindi he was making Trinidad one people with one language by disconnecting them with India. So why were we all being taught French and Italian, are French and Italian? Christians I assume Williams thought were loyal to Trinidad and not the Vatican.
The rise of Pan Africanism proved to Dr. Eric Williams that the African Trinidadian wanted an attachment with Mother Africa and an African Jesus and little to do with Eurocentric ways, while the converted Indians stuck with white Jesus and White culture. At this time, Pan Africanism was growing in the late sixties and Indianism was melting because the Indian leaders and Think Tanks were pushing socialism on Indians as the new Vedic religion. Therefore, the blame has to be more on our Indian leaders than the African Man. The Questions to be asked is, how can a Hindu and Hindu rites not be connected to India as the Holy land but Muslims/Christian by their rites can see Mecca and Jerusalem/Vatican as their Holy place even if that is not Trinidad. Why the focus on Hindus only?
Let’s us be honest Trinidad Africans, Indians, Whites, Arabs, Chinese, and others can have love for both Trinidad and their ancestral land. Suriname Indians are considered Hindustani and speak Hindi. Are they unpatriotic to Suriname? The ‘Bush Negroes ‘ maintaining their African roots. Does that make them unpatriotic to Suriname? The answer is a loud NO!My Sincere Sympathy to the Andrea Bharat Family.OM NAMAH SHIVAYA.