Bukka Rennie

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Exploding the myths

November 02, 2002
By Bukka Rennie

Myth No 1: "Eric Williams imported people from the smaller islands and placed them in Beetham and Laventille in order to guarantee a PNM majority".

Now it is important to note that there is no intellectualism that is devoid of history. None. Matters not how "high-falutin" one may sound or write.

What are the facts? Grenadians, Vincentians et al were migrating to T&T from time immemorial. We need to remember that Grenada, Barbados, St Kitts, etc were settled much earlier than T&T. As a matter of fact T&T (Trinidad, moreso), then under Spanish control, were the gateways to the Main and were mere stations refuelling and re-provisioning ships on their way to other parts while Grenada, Barbados and St Kitts were settled communities.

Full settlement and extensive habitation of T&T were slow in coming under the Spanish and French but took off after British conquest in 1797, to the extent that after Emancipation, T&T were island states in which much land was still available, unlike the older settlements, so people from up the Caribbean, the more youthful and adventurous, found cause to steadily migrate "south" in search of a better life.

They brought with them the political and social consciousness nurtured in older societies and so in many instances led people's struggles in this new, fresh, bubbling environment.

That trend continued into modern times and even intensified with the development of the Port-of-Spain waterfront at the turn of the century, the establishment of the deep-water harbour in 1936 and the discovery of oil and the constant rush later of direct foreign investment to extend the petroleum industry.

They virtually built the waterfront and the oil industry in T&T. Going down "South" became a big thing to Grenadians and Vincentians in particular. They were known to throw "farewell parties" for those leaving for the South-land and Trinis came to be referred to as "Southees".

What does Eric Williams, one man, have to do with such an entire human social engagement? And if the idea was to foster this migration wave in order to win elections in which "seats" are paramount, wouldn't he have placed these migrants in Caroni?

In the same way this jackass logic can be extended to say that the natural universal migration from rural to urban has been orchestrated deliberately in T&T to make certain urban seats like Tunapuna and St Joseph marginal.

Myth, No 2: "Indians were forced into the agricultural sector by Williams".

"Forced labour" in modern T&T? When since 1956 did this happen and how many people were murdered by the coercive arms of the State in this process? Again, unadulterated and abject nonsense. The history makes the case.

African slaves were the only people brought here in chains; they were caught and brought against their wishes and forced to work. Nobody else was "caught". Everyone else including the Indians came with a "plan".

Failure to make the psychological and physiological distinction between the ramifications of "being caught and brought" and "coming with a plan to make good" is to a great extent the basis for a lot of the misunderstanding between the two racial groups.

The difference is what gave many Indians the advantage to take off after Independence in 1962. They were the ones still close to the "land", the primary basis of wealth generation, and they still held a religious/cultural affinity to land, whereas the Africans were largely urban and landless with no such peasant affinity and psychology.

All their efforts to establish an entrepreneurial class and a free independent African peasantry away from the plantation economy after slavery had been deliberately stymied by various strategies employed by the colonial State.

Therefore all the non-white local "millionaires" who emerged after Independence were, not surprisingly, Indian, out of the agricultural sector, they, objectively, being the best placed to take off and a percentage of them did in fact take off even though the majority remained as workers or small farmers, many doubling as both.

In the mean, Africans, likewise by choice, remained largely landless workers or unemployeds in the urban areas and/or State functionaries within the State, both displaying that one common psyche of non-relation to "private ownership", "private" being the operative and salient word.

Anyone therefore suggesting in any way that any group in modern T&T was or has been forced into any particular sector is merely attempting to negate reality in the interest of crude, vacuous propaganda.

Exploding myths Pt 1 | Exploding myths Pt 2 | Coming under 'bap' Pt 3
Exploding myths: responses

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