Home / View Point / Guest Columns / MASTER’S VOICE: T&T must show respect for Makandal Daaga… and here’s why!

MASTER’S VOICE: T&T must show respect for Makandal Daaga… and here’s why!

Now the Chief Servant made many mistakes in life, certainly some in recent years. But here was someone who, along with others who also dared to dream—and do more than just dream—sought to improve our society.

Wired868 reader Corey Gilkes, in his Letter to the Editor, holds court on the legacy of late NJAC leader Makandal Daaga and blasts the ignorance and self-contempt among many of his critics:

Photo: Late former NJAC leader Makandal Daaga.
Photo: Late former NJAC leader Makandal Daaga.

To any young person under-25 who may somehow be reading this, please look carefully at those of us over-40 and kinda pattern your life doing the exact opposite of whatever it is you see.

Because, listening to some callers to Power 102FM and i95.5FM the morning after the passing of Makandal Daaga, one has to wonder why we bothered changing flags in 1962.

The way many of us analyse—using that word loosely—our society’s economic, political and social challenges with the same mindset (and formal dress styles) as the supposedly departed coloniser, it’s not hard to understand the scornful observations of VS Naipaul, CLR James and Lloyd Best made about many in this society.

There’s very little vision, imagination and independent thought, but a whole lot of ignorance and self-contempt, which they are quick to project onto the few who dare to think and act differently.

So it was with Makandal Daaga, who some callers and hosts insisted on referring to by his birth name rather than the one he chose of his own conscious will.

Now the Chief Servant made many mistakes in life, certainly some in recent years. But here was someone who, along with others who also dared to dream—and do more than just dream—sought to improve our society.

Photo: Former Trinidad and Tobago Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar (centre) with fellow People's Partnership leaders (from left) David Abdullah, Ashworth Jack, Prakash Ramadhar and Makandal Daaga during their term in office. (Copyright Trinidad Guardian)
Photo: Former Trinidad and Tobago Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar (centre) with fellow People’s Partnership leaders (from left) David Abdullah, Ashworth Jack, Prakash Ramadhar and Makandal Daaga during their term in office.
(Copyright Trinidad Guardian)

He refused to accept as a given the white supremacist values upon which our social, political, economic, legal and education systems were built and which continue to guide the thinking of many among us regardless of their skin colour.

He laboured to forge racial unity, recognising the difficulties of doing so given the decades of deliberate actions by the European elites and their local tribal collaborators.

He fought to encourage a large section of the population to love and embrace their “Trinbagonianness” by first identifying, loving and embracing their “Africanness”.

And he sought to do this by drawing from the deep well of humanistic African-centred thought from the Continent and the Diaspora, particularly from Caribbean thinkers, going back to at least the 19th century.

But that’s not what you’ll hear from the Jobs, Ramcharitars, Baldeosinghs and Boodans among us, along with the slew of self-loathing, ignorant callers to the airwaves. No, Daaga and he posse just copy a setta slogan from dem radical in the States that had nothing to do with us here.

Photo: Late Jamaican journalist Marcus Garvey was the founding member of the Pan-Africanism movement.
Photo: Late Jamaican journalist Marcus Garvey was the founding member of the Pan-Africanism movement.

Such thinking just exposes those who accept the view that we could only imitate, not initiate. It also ignores the evidence showing that much of the radicalism in the US Civil Rights and Black Power struggles can be traced to Caribbean radicals such as Garvey, James, Padmore, Claudia Jones, even stories of Maroon settlements that Black seamen encountered as they traversed the Atlantic since the 17th century.

I’ve long ceased expecting much from almost all of the 40-80 age group; I suggest you millennials give most of us a wide berth before you become contaminated.

However, do try to learn as much about Makandal Daaga as possible—difficult, given what passes for History, I know—and try to stand on the shoulders of at least one giant we have produced.

Photo: NJAC leader Makandal Daaga (centre) holds a press conference in 1970. (Courtesy Embau Moheni/NJAC)
Photo: NJAC leader Makandal Daaga (centre) holds a press conference in 1970.
(Courtesy Embau Moheni/NJAC)

About Corey Gilkes

Corey Gilkes is a self-taught history reader whose big mouth forever gets his little tail in trouble. He lives in La Romaine and is working on four book projects. He has a blog on https://coreygilkes.wordpress.com/blog/ and http://www.trinicenter.com/Gilkes/. Vitriol can be emailed to him at coreygks@gmail.com.

Check Also

Noble: The blackest thing in Laventille; how decades of neglect shaped a ‘hot spot’

Dr Eric Williams’ last tome, The Blackest Thing in Slavery (1973), tells us that there …

6 comments

  1. Mr Gilkes I read your letter in the Guardian Viewpoint section (Friday 12th) well said but am surprised at your omission of our best revolutionary product. Kwame Ture

  2. He was a did what he had to and we should respect him for that everyone has what they believe in and to show from in their own life and if he choose to support the U N C thinking that he could of make a differences and see it was not working and he spoke out so Let him get his honour HE deserve

  3. I must admit that I lost some of my respect for him when he became a UNC ass licker.

  4. Earl Best

    I see/hear smouldering anger which is probably unwarranted. But isn’t it unfair to judge the country by the responses heard on two radio stations? How many strata of society are represented by the callers on radio call-in shows?

    There was quite a bit of decent material in the Express in the wake of Daaga’s death and Raffique contributions on the radio gave, as far as i could make out, the man his due.

    You have to remember that you can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear. And the local airwaves – the talkshow segment of them at any rate – have no time for silk purses anyway, I venture to suggest.

    • Mr Best, I will admit to making an overly sweeping generalisation. I don’t see my words as “smouldering anger” though; more like deep disdain, maybe even disgust. What have I spoken about that was not already written about since the 70s when I was a baby? I’ve read issues of the dailies and TAPIA going back to the very early 70s. Didn’t these callers have access to that info all this time?

      Further, I may have listed only two radio stations but I would have thought that once I listed Baldeosingh, Job and Ramcharitar who are regular columnists and talk show hosts so that it should have pointed to more than just those two stations. I could as easily have pointed to Umbala’s show as well, or that of Rachel Price; you hear the same nonsense there too. My views also come from my interactions with people for the last 30-odd years as I did my own private research into history. The fact is there is a deep ignorance about certain kinds of history and a certain group of people intend to remain mired in their ignorance. if it’s one thing I kinda see with Dr Job is that the time for pointing it out nicely is gone. as far as I a concerned, the only real challenge is how to best get this into the minds of the youths who have to clean up the mess in the very near future.