I vividly recall when the announcement of that Trinidad and Tobago would become an independent nation on August 31, 1962; incumbent Governor Sir Solomon Hochoy would be appointed Governor General, and then Premier Dr. Eric Williams in his address from London he outlined the three watchwords: Discipline, Production and Tolerance; and our motto would be, “Together We Aspire. Together We Achieve”.
This was beamed by the British Broadcasting Corporation in London on the final day of the five-day constitutional conference held at Marlborough House, London, under the chairman of then Secretary of State of the Colonies, Reginald Maudling. The two leaders were Dr Eric Williams and Dr Rudranath Capildeo.
In the Trinidad and Tobago Legislature, Dr. Patrick Solomon, acting Premier interrupted the Legislative Council and asked Speaker E.M. Duke to make an announcement in which he said that our country would become independent on August 31, 1962. Simboonath Capildeo, representative for Couva, who was on the floor gave way. There were fanfare, enthusiasm and spirit of brotherly love pervaded the atmosphere.
It was a moment of glamour and the Guardian Newspaper, the only one at that time, carried several pages of commentaries and message that were sent to Trinidad and Tobago.
As a second-year student at college, I recall that I was asked to address the school on the merits of our new political status. (Just to recall, schools were closed for the August vacation, but were recalled for the week leading to Independence Day.)
I my address, I spoke of the need for our two leaders, Dr Eric Williams as Prime Minister and Dr Rudranath Capildeo to mend their indifferences as surfaced at both the Constitutional Conference which was held at Queen’s Hall and later at Marlborough House.
I spoke of the need for young people must get fully prepared to build our nation, and that the watchwords of Discipline, Production and Tolerance must become our new emblem.
In my address which lasted for about half-a-hour had the ears of all students and teachers, all of whom were in surprise that I was able to deliver such a monumental presentation which should have been part of the school’s archives.
“If we are to achieve, we have to perspire with our sweat and blood. In our mortal hands lies the future of this piece of land for today’s generation, and all future ones. The time is now for us get serious about our own humanity”, I said. I cited the works in other jurisdictions both in the Caribbean and worldwide.
Some of the students predicated a serious political future for me. None of the students in the higher forms could not answer to the offer made by the principal. I yielded. I must confess that I was nervous, probably making such a statement among our peers.
I still feel that there is hope, overflowing hope if the governors start to get things right in the promulgation of political issues, in the distribution of the wealth, avoid geographical discrimination, bring full equality for all, respect the preamble of our Republican Constitution, broad representation in appointments at all levels of governance, respect all human rights and political views, national awards, stop hurling insults at MPs in and out of Parliament, the urgency of constitutional reform under a special permanent independent Constitution Commission as a national watchdog so that the Constitution would not be sidelined for political expediency.
Our leaders must take note that whatever wrong or misdoing we do now, there would be a price for future generations to pay. And that would be a heavy one. Our leaders must stop revenge talks in and out of Parliament. There is a shining need for strong political leadership in our land, as it stands our spirit of humanitarianism, nationalism and true concepts of national development and nation building concepts have withered away swiftly.
Trinidad and Tobago needs a new paradigm shift, a revolutionary one at that, if this country is to move forward and find its place as respectable, peaceful and welcoming state.
With hundreds of billions of dollars spent on public utilities, particularly WASA, the citizenry cannot get a clean glass of water to take a Panadol, major shutdowns in the power supply, our roads are the most probably the worst in the world, despite an overflowing pitch lake, services at government offices are poor, public transport is unreliable, fix our roads and then bring in hybrid public transport, crime and decaying education system needs much to desired.
After 60 years of Independence and Republicanism, we do not have much to boast about.
Let us make a fresh start, a new one. It is never too late.
Our first Prime Minister Dr Eric Williams, wrote in The History of Trinidad and Tobago “marking our Independence, that a nation was founded on August 31, 1962, but still have to construct a society. That dream remains elusive. But we can change that now, It is late, but we can still try.