The Friends with Benefits Trinis Get for Too Much Ethnic Wine, Wood and Iron

As a Trinidad and Tobago citizen with all the world’s major ethnic blood lines flowing through my East Indian-looking body and my African state of mind, it has been some time now since I embarked on a search for The real meaning of the T+T Man .

This is in the special context of his struggle to deal with his rich  ethnic diversity combined with the daunting  challenge of amalgamating with his formidable  Trini woman of penetrating will power, flaming passion and thousands of excitingly moving parts coming at him at one place in a tantalizing manner, all at the same time.

For the many social reformists who have made  calls such as :

 Indian and Africans Unite Now! 

Power to the People!

Massa Day Done!

I have often wondered that – even as I actively participated in the many marches, demonstrations and rallies calling for national unity in past times – I (and I would think the same problem affected others of mixed race like myself) – I was often very perturbed in that, while I was calling for an ideal in racial harmony, I myself was already as an active, living example of the same notion that I was proposing.

So that I witnessed my brothers and sisters try to aggressively come together as one, they were really behaving like the two  major disparate forces which they still are in their separate realities, bearing beneath the surface, old wounds and unresolved ethnic road rage deeply embedded over about 250 years of cautious co-existence – or social zantaying.

It might have been in this same spirit of adventure mixed with fear and  couyount mouth , that steel bandsmen from different parts of the city would confront one another in often violent confrontations as recorded by Lord Blakie when he sang:

And when the steel bands clash, mamma

If you see Cutlash

Never me again

To jump in  a steel band 

In Port of Spain!

It’s in this connection that I got a glimpse of the possibilities that my wild thoughts could make sense of after all, when I came upon a book by Schwaller de Lubicz, a philosopher who broke new ground by in his approach to studying Egypt by stressing that:

“ In order to comprehend the significance of a heightened phase among man’s varied historical expressions, we need to impose on ourselves the discipline of attempting to enter into the mentality of the people and the spirit of the time. 

“To do so would mean more than just learning the language and symbols of the period under study; we must also awaken in ourselves a living inner rapport with the material being researched and identify with it in a potentially self-transforming manner”.

What a daring proposition!

And yet, for special Caribbean Diamond like myself, this breakthrough is par for the cultural course.

What authoritative can any single-race person bring to this Trini man who – despite not showing it on the surface – has come out of the warm, loving wombs of two African grandmothers, one of whom was half-Carib?

It was she, Winnifred who dared to break the divide way back in the 1920s by getting married to an East Indian man from Couva whose family had looked on in dismay to see him return to the island as a professional gambler, after being sponsored to study engineering in the USA.

Realizing that his original surname Maharaj would be a deterrent in helping get a teaching job, he quickly changed his to Williams – since they called him William on the estate anyway, and set about on his new journey as a married man here.

So that was the story of Paul Williams, the Indian front liner.

Doris, the Meriken woman who came from Moruga to San Fernando, met Potogee John who had found himself from Madeira and , in need of female company, married Doris and had nine children, including my beautiful mom, Nectar. 

You can imagine my dismay therefore when , one day while parked to wait for my new African wife who some Afro youths observed leaving the car in shorts to go and collect food from a restaurant over the road, sniggered at me: Indian, like yuh need prayers, boy!

Such is life in T+T everybody wants to drink Patrice’s water and mind your business.

And what about the time a teenager watched me in Woodford Square among the Black Power people and looking at my big curly afro and dark shades, said: “Is not Red Power, you know. Is Black Power. So what you doing here?”

These are just humorous-sounding but very painful snippets which I and my kind have experienced like sideliners trying to get into a moving  game which we are really the true masters of and which no one dares to acknowledge.

Which brings us back to Schwaller de Lubicz who fully understood how the ancient Egyptians used  words as symbols for events as opposed to markers in a linear story.

It’s a similar problem that we two different groups have in communication, being forced to struggle with the slave master’s language while our original voices in the drum and the tassa are painfully suppressed.

Listen to Schwaller: ”Similarly, these ancient peoples did not use words as we do, that is, as symbols or sounds linked together, which have fixed, memorized associations and which we compose in sequential patterns within the mind. 

“For them,  words were of a musical nature; or, more precisely, speaking was a process of generating sonar fields establishing an immediate vibratory identity with the essential principle that underlies any object or form”. 

As the book’s translators Robert & Deborah Lawlor pit it:

“The pharaonic intelligence that Schwaller de Lubicz reveals to us was not the visualizing, analytical mentality we know but a sonar-intuitional mode. In the Egyptian temple, wrote Caspar Maspero, the human voice is the instrument par excellence of the priest and the enchanter. 

It is the voice which seeks afar the Invisibles summoned and makes the necessary objects into a reality. . . . But as every one (of the tones) has its particular force, great care must be taken not to change their order or to substitute one for the other.”

Against this background from Schawaller and from my own exciting history as a TT Outsider looking in therefore, perhaps the only mechanism  to make sense of these petty confrontations by two ethnic groups so heavily laden with promise for forging one powerful race, may be to take comfort in the words of Ras Shorty I who sang:

Who God Bless
No man shall ever curse
He shall be first
He shall be first

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