In what must be one of the giddiest periods in the history of Sweet T+T, this extraordinary little twin-island Caribbean democratic republic (Population: 1.6 million approximately) is about to celebrate 30 straight days of Independence obtained 60 years ago. Most intriguing is the phenomenon that the period of celebration is bordered by Emancipation Day on August 1 and Independence Day on August 31.
This comes on the heels of July 27, 1990 when a band of Muslim terrorists stormed the Parliament in an unsuccessful attempt to remove the ANR Robinson-led government from power.
Against this background, this year’s Emancipation Day Parade which started in front the Treasury Building on Independence Square on August 1, assumed special significance for a number of reasons, including
- The obviously crucial point made by a reportedly ill Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley in having his super-black Rasta National Security Minister Fitzgerald Hinds double up as Acting Prime Minister for the country’s Emancipation Day celebrations.
Dressed in freshly resplendent, overflowing green African garb, Hinds – a model of how a poor black boy T+T can soar – presided over this life-changing event for Afro-Trinidadians in a royal manner that allowed the ruling People’s National Movement (PNM)to re-affix its stamp of authority as the country’s powerfully dominant socio-political force.
At the same time, Rowley was seen making an unabashedly bold-faced move to reconnect with his base which has been experiencing significant erosion since being returned to power in the general elections of 2020.
- Those drums beaten so feverishly by adults and children alike, were carrying the message of war for black people who overcame the bitter throes of slavery to emerge as a vanguard of warriors leading the way in many game-changing developments on the world stage, pumping up the emotion and energy needed for the next round of battle.
- At a time when Trinis make it a habit and a hobby to complain and lament despite the gold standard economic, educational and social facilities provided by the PNM government over the years, Rowley understands the importance of pulling black people back to their moorings as a means of maintaining stability in a highly-charged social environment.
In this context therefore, without losing a full appreciation of the historical event, that Rowley pulled no punches in a brazen attempt to declare to all political rivals :
Trinidad and Tobago is PNM country!
The event has not been without its moment of embarrassment as was revealed by Emancipation Committee Chairman Khafra Kambon who noted that a major book published to mark landmark dates in T+T, while even having Valentine’s Day, omitted to state Emancipation day as a national holiday.
And up to now, nobody ain’t lost their wock yet!
Only in Trinidad!
Which brings us seniors very quickly into the rush of change that is fast threatening to turn our whole settled, predictable world upside down.
Take the example of the young cashier sporting a new hairstyle of such attractive proportions that I find myself to compliment her in his way at eight-thirty on a Saturday morning:
“I see you’ve got your hair nicely done for a big party tonight!”
“Party tonight?”, she bristled politely, “I just came from a party in the National Stadium – and it’s still going on!”
And yet, a number of experienced persons such as Housing Minister Camille Robinson-Regis, graced the event by putting in a distinguished appearance at a time when it was crucial for leaders and decision-makers to stand up to be counted.
As a restive/festive people by nature, we were all pleased that the National Emancipation Day Parade was conducted in various centres of the country, with the culminating event taking the form of attractive Display Booths and a cultural show in the Queen’s Park Savannah.
With plans afoot to engage the population in one month of celebrations until Independence Day on August 31 therefore, a nation which has been locked down for about two years because of COVID -19 and stringent financial constraints, is ready to exhale.
In this connection, we can therefore look forward to what promises to be a surreal period during which we shall pray, study, meditate, dance, jump and party to the sweet diverse rhythms that keep us oscillating in a naturally high and heady environment of wine an jam!
Which quickly brings us back to the principles in which we are deeply anchored as a people, where our music and humour serve us so well as a naughty disguise or mask attracting wide envy precisely because of this perhaps unique capacity to live harmoniously together.
And that’s in a very small place where so many diverse ethnic groups have come to find themselves tightly crammed together based on bondage, force, adventure and curiosity.
So even while we take note of our national watch words “Discipline, Tolerance and Production”, and sing the lines of our Anthem : “Here every creed and race find an equal place”, let us always remember the beautiful, all-encompassing lines which the Lord Funny aptly sang about us in this special, precious little treasure of a place which must always be revered and deeply appreciated every day for the great things it has done – and will continue to do – for every one of us.
Sweet, sweet Trinidad,
How I love my country bad
When I dead please bury me
On the centre of the City
Check You Tube for our Video Change Your Mind and Stay Away From Crime by Rudolph Williams