Exploding myths: responses
November 23, 2002
By Bukka Rennie
The columns exploding four popular myths, ie Eric Williams imported small-islanders to Beetham and Laventille in order to win elections; Indians were forced into the agricultural sector by Williams; the oil dollars of the last boom simply disappeared; and Carnival is a PNM cultural form, not a national one, have brought numerous responses that in themselves inform us about how polarised our views are about our own selves and the lives that we, ourselves, have in fact already lived.
It tells us so much about how we see what we see, and how some people's way of seeing can be so warped and so distorted that one is left to wonder what tools of interpretation are being utilised.
The point is that there is a truth that is the truth, if one has the guts to carefully search through all the misinformation, propaganda and false consciousness that surround us in order to discern it. We will let our readers themselves judge and assess some of the responses.
One Jerry Ragoobar said the following: "...Very well written article. You are quite right. No one was forced to do farming or go to live in the urban centres. Re the Sea Lots and the Laventille areas.
"The settlement of these depressed areas came about when other islanders chose to come to Trinidad in search of a better life. This movement of human cargo takes place all the time. Just look at the hills around Caracas, lots of people from neighbouring countries seeking a better life.
"Trinidad was and is still seen as the New York of the Caribbean. So is Venezuela. People will move where life seems better..."
Ivor St Hill suggested an omission in the historical analysis in the sense that the "economic impact of the building of the American bases at Chaguaramas and Cumuto, the only time Trinidad experienced full employment, made Trinidad a magnet for labour from the other islands..."
A Mr R Mittoo dug deeper: "...I admire your research. There is that reality that exists for those who are lucky to see it. The social psychologists calls it 'selective perception'. No one is exempt. That's who we are. History has a place in our future. That is unquestionable. To paraphrase William S, what's done cannot be undone.
"Sir, the question is should we wallow through selective perception and not endeavour to build foundations for harmonious existence..."
Someone with the user-name of "macarrano" posed the issue of cultural development in even more stark terms than our recent columns: "...I've been reading this series from the start. Your recent argument has some valid points but it is a bit abstract.
"The hard reality is that the PNM Government has indeed spent more on Carnival and pan than Indian art forms. This is unfortunate and should be remedied.
"But the other reality is that Africans have been a racial majority for a long time. The majority usually tends to dominate in many areas; politics and the arts being two examples. I don't think that Africans should apologise for this.
"Also, patronage of an art form can mean the difference between obscurity and ascendancy. Carnival is an integrated art form, even as it retains its African essence. As such, Carnival enjoys strong cross-racial, international, as well as African patronage - far more than the numbers who patronise Indian cultural activities.
"So while I believe that the Indian art forms need more government support, I don't think that this support can remedy their essentially narrow cultural appeal."
David Lawrence took up the concern of derisive calypsoes: "...Excellent piece! I agree wholeheartedly with the ideas you expressed in your column. However, we must accept that the art form of calypso reflects the social and political feelings of elements in the population.
As an Afro-Trinidadian I do not enjoy calypsoes that are insulting to anyone, no matter how clever or 'politically correct' they may appear. These works sow seeds of division..."
How Mr K Harrinarine proved able to put the following together is anyone's guess: "...Africans own Tobago, Port-of-Spain to Toco, San Fernando, from Oropouche to Point Fortin and Mayaro. Indians only settled in the Caroni Swamp, Oropouche Swamp, Nariva Swamp... The whole idea of Africans not having land is a mindless playback of the unequal land distribution in Zimbabwe..."
And if that wasn't a case of superhuman mental gymnastics, up came someone who described himself as "Chris Mahadeo, Phd" who intoned: "...Your thinking is still in the Middle Ages! Please give up writing nonsense and go somewhere in the East, meditate and crystallise your thoughts..."
One wonders if this "Phd Chris" ever heard the term "antediluvian".
Exploding myths Pt 1 | Exploding myths Pt 2 | Coming under 'bap' Pt 3
Exploding myths: responses