Master’s Voice: You vs Euro; the continuing emancipation battle for ownership of self

EPL Infrafred Sauna


No, I haven’t gone completely mad. I just thought I’d try to grab your attention and so make you understand the importance of understanding the power words have.

Today is Emancipation Day when we celebrate the end of the enslavement of African people. You will hear the usual platitudes and speeches about how great we are and how we “broke the shackles of slavery.” Now as cynical as I’m sounding, all of that is important to hear. So too are the sights of people walking around since last week dressed in African or African-inspired attire; all that is praiseworthy.

Photo: Some ladies show off their African wear during Emancipation Day celebrations in Woodbrook.
(Courtesy Power102FM)

But, as I asked before in a different way, what does this Emancipation mean to you? And what is it really? Are we as free as we think? This deceptive word does not actually mean freedom, you know. It comes from a Latin term that means ‘transfer of ownership’. When I read that in a Latin dictionary, I instantly got a clearer understanding of the craftiness of Europeans and Euro-Americans.

Enslavement no longer being cost-effective, the Euros had to find ways to maintain control of resources—which they didn’t have in their own countries—and continue to extract wealth for themselves. So domination by another means had to be found; and what better way to achieve that than to make those you once subjugated physically internalise beliefs about your “natural” superiority and their “natural” inferiority?

Jump forward to 2017. Almost everything that may destroy us as a society and as the human species can be traced to European ideas of modernity that gathered speed during the Age of “Discovery” and continued in that ideological vein right up to 2017, without commercial breaks.

Much of this revolves around Eurocentric ideas of modernity that served to benefit only an elite few—same as it always did.

These Euro-centred ideas of modernity that are competitively individualistic, wasteful and authoritarian are facilitated by most of us because the communalistic, collectivist, conservationist and democratic traditions found all over the ancient tropical South, particularly Africa, remain largely unknown to most of us—often by choice.

Photo: Late former Prime Minister Patrick Manning (centre) is flanked by his wife, Hazel Manning (right), and Emancipation Support Committee (ESC) chairman Khafra Kambon.
(Copyright News.Gov.TT)

In this time of heightened xenophobia, increased racism, sexism, ecocide and destructive militarism, African humanism has a lot to draw on to reverse all this. But here in T&T, Africa is mostly pimped out to either convey ideas of backwardness, savagery, superstition and corruption or to convey romanticised ideas of kings, and queens who are essentially black versions of patriarchal capitalists. We walk around for a few days wearing kaftans and kufis (often made in China), then it’s back to wearing suits in tropical heat.

And when someone like me passes wearing it “out of season,” out come the snickers and expressions of self-hate. Listen, if you’re wearing European attire all year and—in the case of the late Mr Manning—insist that everyone else wear it too in your place of work, then please take my humble advice: take off my f***ing clothes and don’t you dare touch them again.

Similar advice will be given if you insist on defining African spirituality and philosophy through Abrahamic religions and Western academic theories. Bob Marley said emancipate yourself from mental slavery; I say that for that to happen, you will first have to emancipate yourself from your own self.

As such, I think we should really engage in some serious self-examination. As the fan for dispersing fecal matter increases its speed, the effects of toxic ideas and dysfunctional institutions will become more and more prominent.

We saw this manifested when the legitimate outrage of the British and US working people was manipulated and hijacked by Nigel Farage, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. We are seeing it right here with the collapse of our worm-eaten institutions that were never developed for a properly functioning society anyway.

Photo: United States president Donald Trump (left) greets supporters at a rally during his election campaign.
(Copyright Business Insider)

So they are not going to save you.

Unless and until you transfer ownership back to you.

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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 and Vitriol can be emailed to him at

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  1. Make no mistake, many of these so-called first world countries can be classified as third world countries dressed up in first world clothes.

  2. This was interesting. I think some of the points you raised are relevant to other ethnicities as well.

  3. For over 50 years we have managed our own affairs, so what accounts for the current mess we find ourselves in?

  4. The 90 plus years of colonialism was more devastating to us than the centuries of slavery. Just look at our own situation in Trinidad. Examine the condition of the African continent during slavery and at the onset of
    ” independence “

  5. Jimi Jorsling you preached, don’t forget the fact that Africans in Trinidad are less likely to secure a loan from banks where we deposit our money

  6. Slowly but surely some of us are coming around to a different type of consciousness. I hope people realise that one of the ways the elite have maintained their dominance is through the rental of office space to government agencies . These funds worth $millions allow them to exert control over businesses , banks , franchises etc . Our spending and voting habits will have to change .

  7. Dr. Eric Williams said that also, but so few people in this country read.

    • Earl Best

      Shabba, Your comment sounds like a lament. My response is different; I rejoice that there are still some people who do. I am very mindful of the question I would occasionally put to my students. It asks “What advantage does the man who does not read have over the man who cannot read?

      Perhaps the real tragedy of Trinidad and Tobago education is that the numbers of both groups are rapidly diminishing.

  8. So true and those same Euros is now referred to as the “First World” ,which is hard to believe ,because they rape our natural resources to the bone and then selling it back to us “Third World” countries ,So who is really the first world ,that’s why this term first world and third world is a scam created by the white man to differentiate the rich from the poor ,hmmm this world have been messed from since earliest of time

  9. Earl Best

    “Toussaint was a mighty man,” David Rudder sings in “Haiti,” “and, to make matters worse, he was black.”

    Emancipation Day is a good time to think about what that four-word interpolation really means. And, of course, to think about all the issues being raised in this piece.

    But I won’t hold my breath. Lloyd always used to say that “Trinidadians walk around with their heads empty.” And I add that, on the evidence that I have, we like it so…even on Emancipation Day.

  10. Sad to see the old slave mill
    Is grinding slow, but grinding still

  11. Make the upcoming August 4th a true Emancipation day? How many of us will move from behind the keyboards and smart phones and onto the streets that day because that is where the people will be regardless of who the ‘leaders’ are?

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