In 1973, a book published under the title “The Aftermath of Sovereignty – West Indian Perspectives” gave then Prime Minister Dr Eric Williams the opportunity to explain his contentious assertion that “Massa Day Done” in Trinidad and Tobago. After a decade of criticism for the statement, Dr Williams was attempting to backtrack on the statement he had made after Sir Gerald Robert Wight joined the DLP party, as he claimed that he never pointed the attack at any one individual but was rather making a broad statement against anyone who was attempting to reassert Colonial rule of this country through Parliament. Despite resisting any critical assertion that he should apologize for the comments for the entirety of the 1960s, however, it is interesting to see how he would attempt to recharacterize not only that statement at the beginning of the 1970s in a publication that would be printed and sold to a predominantly White American audience at the time.
The reason that context is important in reading this text is because of the following description of the DLP that he offers, which really forms the basis of the essay:
“This pack of benighted idiots, this band of obscurantist politicians, this unholy alliance of egregious individualists, who have nothing constructive to say, who babble week after week the same criticisms that we have lived through for five long years, who, nincompoops that they are, think that they can pick up any old book the day before a debate in the Legislative Council and can pull a fast one in the Council by leaving out the sentence or the paragraph or the pages which contradict their ignorant declarations – for people like these power is all that matters. They have not the slightest idea as to the constituents of progress in our society and the elements of our historical evolution. All that they can see in the slogan, Massa Day Done, is racial antagonism. This is characteristically stupid. Massa is not a racial term. Massa is the symbol of a bygone age. Massa Day is a social phenomenon. Massa Day Done connotes a political awakening and a social revolution.”
Dr Williams would go further in explaining this point by stating even more blatantly:
“Massa was able to do all of this because he had a monopoly of political power in the West Indies which he used shamelessly for his private ends as only the DLP can be expected to emulate in our more modern times.”
Now, for those who might not know, Sir Gerald Wight was a born and bred Trinidadian citizen, who suffered from an unfortunate deficiency of melanin in his skin due to the Caucasian genetics of his birth parents. As such, despite having a similar upbringing and education as Dr Williams, who both had the good fortune to have studied in the UK, Sir Gerald simply could not overcome his affliction to be accepted into society by a certain cross-section of the populace, of which much of the PNM elite consist. Despite this, however, Sir Gerald not only championed the industrial boom of this country, serving not only as the head of numerous companies including Alstons Ltd and Caribbean Development Company (better known as CARIB Breweries) but also on the Legislative Council as the Representative for Port-of-Spain, and it was his dedication to public service and the development of this nation that granted him his knighthood. Unfortunately, Sir Gerald would die mere months before T&T was granted its Independence and therefore may never be fully recognized as a true citizen of this nation, but his legacy lives on through his family and accomplishments which still serve our country to this day.
And I bring all of this up today because it’s funny how the PNM has attempted to paint the Opposition parties as racist and Colonial when it is the PNM who have themselves been guilty of those crimes. Imagine that in 1973 Eric Williams would still be trying to paint the DLP and Sir Gerald as “Massa” when the Black Power Movement were revolting against the Government he had led unchallenged for the better part of a decade due to his tyrannical policies that were stifling the populace from experiencing any real emancipation after we were granted our Independence. Similarly, you have Keith Rowley now pretending that it is the UNC and Kamla Persad Bissessar who are racially profiling criminals after it was this PNM government that gave the all-clear to the police to use any force necessary in attacking the civilian population in this country.
It is under the PNM that the Police Service started using rubber bullets and tear gas on peaceful protesters who were pleading for basic amenities.
It is under the PNM that the Police Service was driving home people who were looking for hampers and other essential items during the height of the pandemic lockdown.
It is under the PNM that the Police Service and the SSA began monitoring the communication and social media postings of law-abiding citizens in an effort to prevent any mass demonstration and protest of their rule.
It is under the PNM that the Police Service have shot and killed more “suspected criminals” than any other government in history because No Lives Matter to the PNM.
For Keith Rowley to claim that any political party is more racist towards the Black population is the biggest irony, because there has never existed a party more intolerant of Black needs in this country. That said, the PNM has identified the best way to sow social discord among the populace is to keep referring to skin colour and heritage and hope that that alone would be enough to keep the nation divided. In 2015, Dr Rowley said that there were people in the PNM who thought his complexion was too dark to lead their party and the government, but the truth is that he might not be black enough. Because it is clear through the policies that he and the PNM continue to enact in this country that he does not relate to the Black caucus with any amount of familiarity otherwise he would understand how the PNM have been oppressing them, and the nation at large, since our Independence in 1962.
Ravi Balgobin Maharaj