By A. H. Hotep January 13, 2000

The politics of Race in T&T

Most people in this country are trying to figure out how the Prime Minister, Basdeo Panday, could get members of the PNM, both Africans and East Indians, to join his party or to remain silent. To understand this, one will have to look at the way the two major races operate in this country.

The majority of the Africans in Trinidad is ignorant of history, and does not accept being called Africans. They are divided into many other second class ethnic groups. We have the Christians a major bunch who are themselves fragmented and none of the fractions accept themselves as being part of any racial group even though they all retained the admiration and desires for white complexion. Then we have other little "religious" sects made up of African people. Most Africans here do not consider themselves Africans for reasons that I have explained in other articles.

The Whites have their own infighting but at the end of the day they close ranks behind their race.

The Chinese are also another close-netted group.

Then we have the Indians who are about the same in numbers as the Africans and have mostly kept to themselves. They have always retained and taught their racial culture under the disguise of religion.

Whenever this present Prime Minister speaks to the Indian community, he always reminds them about the struggles and sufferings of their ancestors in Trinidad, at the hands of the African based PNM. I must add that these are dubious and nebulous claims at best. In these public forums we very rarely hear them speak of sufferings at the hands of the colonial overlords who lured them here as Indentured Servants.

Because there have always been stimulation about East Indian racial pride under the disguise of religion, most Indians accept the advancement of the Indian Race as their highest duty.

In this type of environment, the Prime Minister can call on any Indian who belonged to any other political party and they will change loyalties for their own greedy ambitions but claim it is a call to duty. The followers of the Indian based party (UNC), accepts this change as these people fulfilling the Hindu agenda of bringing their race together.

I can imagine the Prime Minister calling a former PNM member Hosein, and telling him; "Boy why you letting down your race so, you ain't see this is we turn now and we people have to stand together if not for we self but for we people. I know you is not a Hindu you is Moslem but boy your race must come first."

Hosein would use this appeal as an excuse to further his greedy ambitions while retaining some sort of legitimacy.

One must remember that the Prime Minister is familiar with the writings of African Liberation leaders, and very often one will hear him using their quotes but with Indians replacing Africans. To other sensible African people he sounds crude because the experiences and situation of the Indians was never similar. But to the highly charged Indian community, this sounds like a leader who is ready for battle. These are fresh and stimulating war cries.

The Prime Minister and the leaders of Hindu organizations are constantly manufacturing phantom oppressions that the Indians must guard against.

Where does the Negro/African fit into this equation? The Prime Minister and his followers hear the responses ever time some of us mention the need for African programs, the majority of Africans are against this, for reasons I have explained in other articles. Some Indians also call this racist.

The "African" based party the PNM has no central theme to mobilize supporters around them. All the leader is left with is promises of senior positions and money when they get back in power. The PNM leaders do not discuss things African, they call that divisive. They cannot use religion because African people are divided amongst the numerous variations of Christianity. They are really only left with the promise of jobs and money.

If jobs and money are the only stimuli they have, then their supporters can get that from the UNC or any other political party in power. Because there is no central theme with which to hold all the fractions of Africans together, the leadership of the PNM is at a disadvantage. Nevertheless, it is a disadvantage encouraged by their own ignorance of racial history and how to rise above it.

They have created the disadvantage, because of their denial of a legitimate part of our social education. They neglected to introduce the history of the diverse ethnic groups that make up this society in the school curriculum. People could have acquired a better understanding of each other. This would have made it difficult for other opportunists to use racial propaganda to solicit political support.

They never sought to understand what the Hindu leaders were teaching the Hindu community. They even gave them taxpayer's money to propagate racial insularity under the disguise of culture and religion.

Their chief spokesman, Sat Maharaj, has said publicly that one must be born a Hindu to become a Hindu. In such a case, what they are teaching is racial exclusivity while using the finances of the very people whom they despise.

All of this power play is doomed to failure and I will explain this in greater detail in another article.

None of the parties in this state of ignorance can benefit in the long term. They are appealing for their support on dishonest and dangerous grounds, and in the battle to win supporters from each other's side they disenchant their own supporters who see the other side benefiting when their side is in power. It is doomed to failure.

Archives / Trinicenter Home