MASTER’S VOICE: Behind the brutal battering of Bayshore’s beige buffers; ignore rage at your peril

My laptop real pick a fine time to stage a sick-out. Almost immediately all kinda things start happening.

Fr Harvey get beat up…. by people who vex with him for forgiving those who actually beat him up; Saudi Arabia accused another country of supporting terrorism… That’s right… Saudi Arabia making accusations like that, the same Saudi Arabia that is the home of the Salafist ideology that gave us such wonderful organisations as the Taliban, Al Qaida and ISIL. Maybe this is just a Saudi brand of stand-up comedy, I dunno…

And, oh yes, that jep nest raised by a dinner with Anthony Bourdain.

Photo: I slaved all day over this… Well, maybe ‘slaved’ isn’t the best word…
American chef and tv personality Anthony Bourdain (centre) is a dinner guest of the Syrian/Lebanese community.

Now it really eh have much for me to contribute here that Muhammad Muwakil didn’t already say. I will, however, point out that the utterances by Mario Sabga-Aboud, Peter George and many callers in support of what they said brought out once again some major issues we’re forever sweeping under the proverbial rug… or trying to.

Now me eh sure what exactly people vex with Sabga-Aboud and George for; is not like they say anything people doh say every day in public and in private. Look how so many people called into various talk shows the days after and say “Buh he eh lie; is de truth, oui.”

Okay, okay, maybe daiz not why dey vex: maybe is because ah who said it and the position of power and influence those people supposedly hold. Super Mario come off like he was flaunting it. But isn’t flaunting one’s wealth and/or material possessions how success is supposed to be expressed here?

Since the late 19th century displays of extravagance by elites was the norm and a way of showing superiority. So daiz how it suppose to be, ent?

Of course, when one does that, there’s then that little question of social inequality to confront but that’s minor, daiz small ting; dat only important for those who want freeness. Former government minister Stephen Cadiz was right when he said that the comments were “blown out of proportion.” 

Photo: Rituals owner Mario Sabga-Aboud.
(Copyright Aldwyn Sin-Pang/Rituals)

Now for me, like the comments made by Peter George, that is what says a whole lot. This is the same Stephen Cadiz who formed the Keith Noel 136 Committee to call attention to the high levels of gun violence in the country, the same one who produced a documentary on the 1970 February Revolution. What he said kinda cleared up some lingering questions I had with that documentary.

I mean, it gave a pretty good overview of that turbulent and heady period. But certain key elements—such as the radicalism in South Trinidad and the pan-African, pro-nationalist ideas that served as the foundation, going back to the 19th century—were presented somewhat curiously. They were either ‘invisibilised’ or portrayed in a manner that conveyed a sense of irrational, violent buffoonery—no disrespect to interviewee Dennis “Sprangalang” Hall.

Maybe Mr Cadiz or Alex de Verteuil can clear that up for me.

My main point is that the views expressed during and after that now infamous dinner lifted the plaster off a whole lot of sores festering for a very long time. One such sore was the creation of buffer groups by the British colonial authorities and absentee landlords, a tactic they used almost everywhere they colonised.

Many of these buffer groups were given status and privileges even though many times they themselves were the objects of British contempt. Ultimately, when the British retreated upon “Independence,” the resentments that were created among various groups lingered, often with bloody consequences—like in India/Pakistan, Palestine, Guyana, Nigeria and elsewhere.

Photos: Patrons enjoy the festivities during Trinidad and Tobago’s 2016 Independence Day Parade.
(Courtesy Chevaughn Christopher/Wired868)

There’s another not unrelated sore: the level of disconnect that still exists in this society. Geography as well as certain social issues gave us parallel communities, often separated by mere feet from other communities, with little understanding of how the people beside whom they lived lived.

Whole sections of this society are blissfully unaware of the realities of life for other sections of the society. What little they do know is often filtered through old racist narratives of the laziness and innate violent criminality of African and Indian people. Hence the need for that ‘security’ class.

When many talk show hosts and callers argued that Messrs George and Sabga-Aboud spoke the harsh truth—that they got to where they are today because of hard work and sacrifice—I’m not denying that they have a valid point.

But what was often left unsaid but implied as no less true was the lingering conviction that the lower-income sections of this country are a bunch of lazy, shiftless people, who are where they are because they did not sacrifice and work hard.

In other words, the real issue here is that the people who criticising is a setta jealous, lazy, poor people who vex cause dey know that they living off the fat of the land—as one former government minister said. 

Photo: The Joint Trade Union Movement protests against Section 34 during the People’s Partnership Government’s administration.

This is, of course, another lingering sore: the internalisation by ALL the various ethnic groups of the racist/sexist narratives the British colonisers used to keep the African and Indian labouring masses out of real political and economic power in this country.

So all that has to be factored into the interpretation of Peter George’s statement about the middle class acting as security between the haves and the have-nots. One wonders if Mr George or Mr Cadiz ever bothered to make connections between the decisions made with a view to increasing profits and the marginalising of depressed communities, social inequity and the “civil commotion” that George is so worried about.

Much of the crime, the general indiscipline, bobol, ratchafee and corner-cutting we see here—and participate in—and, more ominously, the callous indifference to life has to do with a mindset spawned by the labouring classes’ understanding over the last 120-plus years that “by the sweat of MY brow, THOU shall eat bread.”

We understood it and decided that we had had enough of that shit.

What the hell did you expect?

Photo: Protest in La Brea.
(Copyright Trinidad Guardian/Rishi Ragoonath)

So continue to pathologise and pontificate and dismiss certain people as lazy and unproductive. Continue to ignore their calls and treat them like you don’t see them. But know that they have ways of making you take notice.

Maybe they will really decide to engage in boycott action. (I only realised just how many of the businesses I already do not patronise only when the list of businesses was put up online).

If that happens—and I sincerely hopes it does—there may well finally be a concerted attempt to develop small, community-based businesses. It’ll be great if lower-income people in rural communities rediscover the ability they once had to sustain themselves.

In any case, the elites would do well to remember 1919, 1934, 1937, 1970.

Of course, there is the option to do like the authorities did after each one of those events and behave as if it is a first time thing.

But I submit that it will be more costly to ignore the rage this time around.

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  1. excellent article. thanks.

  2. His. Arrogance. And. Boastful Ness. Whilst. Divise. Is. True. Because. We. And. Our. Politicians. Made. It. So

  3. Your hopes of boycott action will never materialize. Trinis will still flock the host of international fast food outlets instead of support the bbqs n the burgers stand around the corner.

  4. Alicia I tried via your FB to get a clear analysis of the person who made that unfortunate”overthinking comments”. “Unfortunate”bcus you hv no idea of it’s true intent & the international consequences to many T&T nationals in the diaspora. WD Orlando

  5. Very well said.

  6. Why is everyone overthinking a comment…apparently y’all have never went to a lime and regretted saying something…………why continue with this/?? You want to vilify a man who hires over 99% black underprivileged women….REALLY……….find the next one…..of women who are sexually harassed in office places…..comment on that not on someone offering opportunities

  7. Those who choose to ignore the mistakes of the past are doomed to repeat them.

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