Driving out last night with my daughter Anais, she asked me
to put the radio on her favourite station, Radio Jagriti 102.7
I was just looking at her and smiling as she sang along to
the music and was telling me excitedly about the Indian classical
dance classes she is starting and the musical instruments
she is learning to play.
An advertisement then came on for a fund-raising dinner to
be held for the Indian-Caribbean History Museum.
I was quite interested to hear about it, because the tag line
for the ad was to help preserve our heritage, and I thought
to myself that this is really good.
Of course, I then wondered why there seemed to be no similar
thrust by Afro-Trinbagonians and Afro-Caribbean people to
identify with and claim their identity and heritage in meaningful
When I say meaningful ways, I do not just mean dressing up
in African gowns on Emancipation Day and parading like a peacock
all over town, only to fold it up and hide it away for the
rest of the year until next years Emancipation Day.
In fact, I am one of those who strongly feel that you do not
have to parade in an African gown to declare your identity.
Ours is a rich and fecund history of builders, sculptors,
artisans, traders, businessmen trading up and down the Nile.
The creators of the alphabet, the pyramids at Giza, the magnificent
tombs of King Tut, inventors of the papyrus writing sheets
as the earliest forms of paper.
We have so much to celebrate, so much to be proud of, and
yet you look around and you wonder if we even begin to understand
Do we really understand the importance of the impact on civilisation
of people like Jesse Owens, who not only defied Hitler, but
also shattered his flawed theory of Aryan superiority.
Maya Angelou, the world-famous poet and social commentator,
has been a mirror to America and the world, forcing us into
Josephine Baker, entertainer extraordinaire, defied all odds
to hone and fashion her craft and talent and entertained the
Sammy Davis Jr was a maestro in every sense of the word and
member of the famous rat pack, along with the Chairman of
Do we even know about Grace Bumbry, a famous opera singer
who charmed the world with her singing.
In politics, we have people like Nelson Mandela, freedom fighters
like Frederick Douglass, Harriet Thubman, who started the
Regionally, people like Marcus Garvey have stood out. So,
too, our own Dr Eric Williams, our local sport heroes, Dwight
Yorke and Brian Lara, among others.
Our children have no short supply of positive role models
in every facet and aspect of life.
In the field of law and the judiciary, you have Clarence Thomas,
who sits in the US Supreme Court. Johnny Cochrane is still
remembered as the most famous lawyer in the world.
Even after his death, there is Willie Gray, who is carving
out a similar legacy for himself now, and our own Sir Hugh
Wooding was head and shoulders above his peers.
Our Nobel Prize winnersDerek Walcott and Arthur Lewishave
legacies which will last for generations to come.
Dr Martin Luther King has left an indelible mark on the USA
and also on the world, so much so that his birth anniversary
is celebrated as a holiday in the US.
General Colin Powell was the first person of the Afro diaspora
to hold the post of Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff
and then the post of Secretary of State, a tradition followed
now by Condoleeza Rice.
Tiger Woods has revolutionalised the sport of golf, turning
the golfing world upside down. He has been like the most amazing
thing for the sport, having an even greater impact than the
great Muhammad Ali had in the world of boxing.
Even though Ali was named the greatest athlete of the last
century, it appears that Tiger may very well end up as the
greatest athlete of all time.
In business, we have local examples, such as business titan
Lawrence Duprey, who has built on the Clico legacy and created
a world class financial and business behemoth.
In addition to all her charitable works, Oprah has also displayed
tremendous business savvy, making her a fixture on the Forbes
list of billionaires for years.
Robert Johnson, the former owner of BET, has also been on
It, therefore, is painful to sometimes look on and see people
in Trinidad and Tobago of the African diaspora who seem to
so utterly lack a sense of ambition, a sense of purpose, a
sense of direction other than to display gold teeth and wear
Who will lift them out of this trap; who will give them light
Who is taking the initiative to try to start a museum of history
or of education of the African diaspora, to show these youths
that there are a whole lot more positive sides to life and
a completely different vision, that so many pioneers of the
African Diaspora have had and excelled in, that they, too,
can aspire to and make a difference?
Who is to blame for so many of our children being lost like
the Israelites wandering around for years in the desert, not
knowing where they are coming from and not knowing where they
Who shall lead them?