Good work Trinicenter.com
May 22, 2001
By Selwyn R. Cudjoe
In Long Walk to Freedom, Nelson Mandela observed that "newspapers are only a poor shadow of reality; their information is important to a freedom fighter not because it reveals the truth, but because it discloses the biases and perception of both those who produce the paper and those who read it." I am not too sure of the disposition of those who produce and/or read our newspapers or those who own and operate our media. However, I am sure of one thing: we do not get enough news about Africa nor are we given a serious perspective about how Afro-Trinbagonians feel about their society. Now that Indo-Trinbagonians own five radio stations, the government controls TTT, Channel 4 and NBM, and Channel 6 struggles to stay objective, media assume even greater importance in shaping black lives and aspirations. We can never equalize the resources that each of us needs to construct a successful life (philosophers call it "equal concern") if the media continues to deny the specificity of our existence, trivialize our activities, and ignore our concerns?
Although there is no excuse for how the media treats blackness, there is an alternative source of Afro- and African-centered information of which the entire population should be aware. Only a few short months ago, I came into contact with trinicenter.com, an Internet site that offers African and Afro-Trinidadian centered information. It is concerned about the lives of African people and carries information written by anyone-black or white-that has anything important to say about the African and Afro-Trinbagonian experiences. Over the last three months, trinicenter.com has added enormously to my information base. In fact, it makes me wonder why our media is so intent on keeping the society in the dark (no pun intended) about Black activities, nationally and internationally.
Every black person in the country should read trinicenter.com. This is one reason why, three years ago, in Hinduism, Afro-Trinbagonianism, and the Revolution in Social Consciousness, I argued that every black persons should have a computer in his home if s/he wished to be considered an educated person. I could not have countenance then the intellectual/informational vacuum that our formal and informal education systems would have engendered. I could not have known then, that while schools are important in the year 2001, that what one learns on the internet-that is, one's access to information-is ever so much more important than what a teacher teaches her students. In today's world, a teacher is a guide, a role model and cheerleader. With the explosion of information, her most important task is to inculcate the art of critical thinking in her students. Yet, a vital aspect of education remains in the hands of the recipient of that education. An awareness of the sources to which a student can turn to educate him/herself remains an indispensable component of his/her education. In this context, trinicenter.com is almost as precious as the air we breathe to any conscientious Trinbagonian.
Trinicenter.com, is on the cutting edge of information. A comprehensive site, it covers India, Africa and the rest of the human family. Yet, it keeps us informed about information that is related to the black condition internationally. One of its originators argued that trinicenter.com "emphasizes learning as a basis and a prelude for organization and empowerment African people." It has as its core belief, that "the immediate provision of African programming should be made available in the same manner that East Indian programming is made available to the national community on state owned facilities."
Two examples from the site should be sufficient to illustrate my point. The news that 34 African countries signed a treaty to create one union (the United States of Africa) by creating a Pan African Parliament; a Central Bank, a Court of Justice and a single currency was important. Six weeks ago a consultative act was signed in Sirte, Libya but no news of such ever reached out press. The source of this information is Tomric News Agency, Dar es Salaam (April, 9, 2001). Few of us are aware of this important development.
A month ago, the International Genome Organization announced that modern Europe and maybe other parts of the world are descended from no more than a few hundred Africans who left the home land as recently as 25,000 years ago. The organization pointed out that Nigerian chromosomes "have been well shuffled around, which indicates a wider genetic pool and a larger breeding history, while the European chromosomes had long stretches of unshuffled genetic material, indicating a more smaller number of chromosome types entering the mix." The source of this information is AP (April 20, 2001).
Under Bantu education, Mandela noted Africans were "trained to be menial workers, to be in a position of perpetual subordination to the white man;" Walter Rodney argued that a colonial education was designed to create mental confusion; Bob Marley saw our university as a place where thieves and murderers were/are being trained. He notes mournfully: "The Babylon system is a vampire, falling empire;/Sucking the blood of the children day by day;/ Building church and university,/ Deceiving the people continually./ Me say dem graduating thieves and murderers." Today, a person cannot consider herself/himself educated it s/he is not in tune with the major currents of scientific, social and political trends of our time. Trinicenter.com is vital for our education: it keeps us in tune with the latest intellectual currents.
The public must determine if our schools are training our young people to become productive and respectful citizens and if they are using technology to enhance their well-being. If we do not choose correctly, we will pay dearly for neglecting our young, precious progenies. As a colleague noted, our ability to utilize technology "will enhance our prospect for survival, growth and prosperity as a people."
Although our media are falling down on the job, a quick look at trinicenter.com can alert us to the possibility of what a relevant, contemporaneous education may look like. Tune them in; it's an educational experience from which the entire society can usefully benefit.
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