On its 43rd birthday, TnT is in moral ruins
Independence : myth or reality?
By Dr. Kwame Nantambu
August 28, 2005
Now that TnT celebrates forty-three years of putative independence, it is apropos to "look below the surface" in order to ascertain whether mythology or reality exists in this land.
In the specific case of TnT, Rupert Emerson in his book Self-Determination Revisited in the Era of De-Colonization (1964) suggests that although "the attainment of independence as the outcome of the colonial struggle sets a final seal of national unity upon the people which wins it", however, the reverse, that is, national dis-unity coupled
with ethnic divisiveness and charges of discrimination, is the stark reality.
He further contends that "a not wholly implausible caricature might suggest that what is at stake is the conviction that since colonialism is evil (then) independence is good"---- not necessarily.
The fact of the matter is that since Britain conjoined TnT into a twin-island state in 1888, TnT has been ruled by the Euro-British colonial
Red, White and Blue Union Jack flag; between 1962 and the 1980s, TnT has been ruled by the Neo-colonial Red, White and Black independence flag.
Since the 1980s, TnT has been ruled by the Euro-American re-colonized Red, White and Blue flag. TnT has , therefore, only experienced "flag independence", not real
Despite becoming a Republic in 1976, TnT's political independence landscape still bears remnants of the British colonial parliamentary system of government.
Louis Lindsay elucidates in his "Colonialism and the Myth of Resource Insufficiency in Jamaica" (1976) that political leaders then and now have
failed to realize that "these (political) institutions have proven to be
inadequate largely because they have not been devised for societies such
as our own but are parts of the inheritance of the colonial era ---
borrowed from the imperialist power and imitatively implanted in the local
Recently, much currency has been given to the establishment of an
Executive President a la United States. This suggests that independence
has only meant substituting our colonizer's and re-colonizer's political
In the arena of education, the independence farce is even more pronounced
The present education system in TnT is an updated version of the static
British colonial model implanted in the 19th century. According to Val T.
Mc Comie in his "Education and Development in the Caribbean : the
Post-Colonial Challenge" (1978): "An objective evaluation of this model
reveals that it succeeded in achieving the wider purpose of colonialism,
which was the transfer of western culture and learning and the
subordination of indigenous values, customs and languages. In the main, .
this was a good system for preserving the psychology of dependence but
hardly a basis for developing national consciousness and self-reliance."
The stark reality is that this 19th century British model is now
operative in a new and improved version to achieve the wider purpose of
neo-colonialism and American re-colonialism cum the transfer, imitation
and mimicking of American culture, values, lifestyles, culinary habits,
dress-codes, speech patterns, holiday festivals and body
The system of psychological dependency via education (albeit Euro-centric
mis-education or edjumacation) has been preserved and mummified in TnT.
In the economic field, real development has not taken place and this is
evident in the alarming UNDP's February 2005 poverty statistics report
that "half of TnT's population is now living on $12 a day or less", "12.4
per cent of the population existed on US$1 (TT$6.30) a day and that a
further 39 per cent lived on less than US$2 (TT$12.60) a day" and that "30
per cent of the population was living in poverty."
Daniel A. Offiong in Imperialism and Dependency : Obstacles to African Development (1982) postulates that :"Real development involves a
structural transformation of the economy, society, polity and culture of
the (country) that permits the self-generating and self-perpetuating use
and development of the people's potential."
Such "a structural transformation" has not taken place in TnT's post
independence era. TnT's economy has not been diversified in any real
TnT is still a single-crop economy and that single crop is oil-LNG.
The agricultural sector is non-existent. The PNM government continues to
cast a disdainful policy look at this sector. "The agricultural sector is
relegated to 12th place in development" in the government's planning
process. "For every $100 spent in development, government is only
investing $2.50 in developing agriculture, lands and marine resources."
In 2004, TnT's food import bill stood at TT$2.2billion.
Indeed, it is very ironic that during the periods of slavery,
indentureship and colonialism, the slaves, labour immigrants and colonized
were able to grow enough food for their Euro-British slave-master,
colonizer and themselves.
However, now that slavery, indentureship, plantation system and colony
status have been abolished and the descendants of the slaves, labour
immigrants and colonized are in charge of an independent, sovereign
nation-state called TnT, they cannot produce enough food for themselves.
Although one may argue that the ubiquitous existence of sky-scrappers,
five-star hotels, etc, may be a sign of development and/or modernization,
real development is measured by the extent to which an improvement in the
Quality of Life (QOL) and the Basic Human Needs (BHN) is experienced by
the "least of these" in society.
In other words, sustainable real development is measured in productive
human resource investment and development. Real development is measured
not in the maximization of Gross National Product (GNP) but in the
maximization of Gross National Welfare (GNW).
In this specific regard, the PNM's CEPEP and URP programmes are nothing
but pathetic, dismal and camoflague examples of productive human resource
development and investment. They are just an exercise in economic futility
but political-electoral expediency.
Prime Minister Manning has even publicly "acknowledged" that the URP is a
ready-made cesspool for "criminal elements."
The fact of the matter is that Laventille was a magnanimous, open-ended
ghetto in the pre-independence era. Laventille is still a magnanimous,
open-ended ghetto in the post-independence era. And this
calamity/dilemma/dire human tragedy continues unabated irrespective as to
which political party forms the government.
In the sports arena, American re-colonial psychological dependency comes
to the fore. In this 43rd year of independence, TnT's basketball teams
have such derived American names as "Detour Shak Attack", "Caledonia
Bulls," "New Grant Nets", "CIL Cavaliers", "Maloney Pacers", "NP
Caledonia Clippers", "AND 1 Trailblazers", "Cosmic Raptors", " Royal
Extra Lions", "Chaguanas Wizzards," "Valencia Kings", and "Londdenville
In addition, some of TnT's football teams also have derived American names
such as "Roxborough Lakers", "Mayaro Spurs", "Cosmos" and "Falcon Crest".
As an independent people, why couldn't these teams come up with original
names to reflect their own indigenous "independent thought and (TnT)
However, the American re-colonialism process does not stop there. "Soca
for Summer," and "Fall Winter Collection", "Maraj Gold Summer", and
"Singer Summer Scorcher" sales are now alive and kicking in malls in
From time immemorial, this writer has always been taught and has always
thought that TnT is a tropical twin-island with only two seasons, namely,
dry and rainy. Maybe, either weather patterns have since changed or TnT
's geological axis has shifted since the 1980s when American
re-colonialization life patterns became an uncontrollable reality.
In addition, Trinbagonians celebrate Halloween and can readily access
"Halloween makeup" in malls across TnT as they simultaneously celebrate
this country's 43rd year of independence.
In the culinary arena, the American fast-foods business establishments
speak volumes of this psychological dependency and utter disdain for
"In this day and age" of political independence, streets, parks, oval,
savannah, squares, districts, towns, etc, still have their centuries-old
Euro-British-Spanish colonial names.
In the 1960s, Trinbagonians wanted to be more British than the British
themselves. Since the onslaught of Cable TV in the early 1980s,
Trinbagonians have voluntarily tilted their satellite life antenna dish
to beam in on the "American dream" up close and personal.
Truth Be Told: Trinbagonians have lost/abandoned all sense of national
identity, self-consciousness and nation-building. Today, the prevailing
mind-set/modus vivendi is : "I, Me, Myself" a la American "fifty- cent
Dependent, external Americanism has replaced independent, internal TnT
nationalism. Real national independence has thus become "a fleeting illusion to be
pursued but never attained."
Truth Be Told: TnT "is a paradox which illustrates and highlights
And it was the politically neutral but politically correct Rev. Cyril
Paul who felt compelled to make the apocalyptic confession: "I am ashamed
to be a citizen of TnT."
In the final analysis, on its 43rd birthday, TnT is in moral ruins.
Shem Hotep ("I go in peace").
Dr. Kwame Nantambu is a part-time lecturer at Cipriani Labour College.
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