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Daly Bread: Sweetest songs, saddest thoughts; pushing back against mental slavery

It did not take long for a compere to call last Sunday morning to say: “page 27 Express ringing so many bells for us. Look, just what you have been saying.”

I turned to the page as he was speaking. There I saw a report that the Barbados Minister of the Creative Economy, Culture and Sports announced Barbados would be looking to see what it has to “offer Japan in terms of cultural experiences” and much else relating to the possible export of Barbadian cultural products to Japan.

Photo: Barbados Minister of the Creative Economy, Culture and Sports, John King.
(Copyright John King/Loop Barbados)

Of course we know that Ministerial “announcements” frequently never go beyond high sounding talk, but I did contrast that full blooded statement with an editorial, in this newspaper on the same day, lamenting that we were proposing to treat our cultural products as a tourism “side dish”.

Observing life in the Republic these days drops a heavy sadness upon me. I had not yet reached the page, about which my compere called, because I had stopped reading the Sunday newspapers, too weighed down with sadness to continue.

I am used to having to ‘screw my courage to the sticking place’ in order to digest and comment on the dotishness that passes as governance and write a commentary; but I do continuously take refuge in our vibrant arts and culture to mitigate the sadness.

In that sector—with acknowledgment to Shelley, who is mentioned later—Trinbago “pours out our full heart in profuse strains of unpremeditated art.”

The reason for heavy sadness these days is that, during 56 years of Independence, we have let our rulers screw up this place and we have moved perilously close to breaking point. Moreover, in the course of doing so, the rulers have failed to lead us away from the worst of colonial negatives.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley (left) and Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar SC.
(Copyright Power102fm)

Mental slavery has kept us tightly shackled to old imposed identities, insecurities and dependency on Mother Government in place of the Mother Country.  Fortunately, the younger commentators also see through it. This is another mitigation of my sadness because they can carry resistance forward.

Let me refer to samples of enlightenment from younger commentators in the print media within the last fortnight.

Comparing superstition to Trini reality, Darryn Boodan (Express), wrote movingly about the sudden death of his father. He concluded that he did not believe in superstitious practices for reasons like: “Because to do so is to ignore the beauty of reality, to ignore that there are no perfect goodbyes. That the future is always uncertain. That the dull messy ordinariness of life is far more enigmatic than the ridiculous ramblings of conmen.”

Citizens have regularly been betrayed to near breaking point. Public trust is low.

Sharda Patasar (Newsday) insightfully observed that: “People are focused mainly on survival. And so I figure there is no room to move towards true acceptance of each other at this point. Unless citizens begin to feel some level of trust rather than desperation to survive, we are going to continue on this train of mistrust and race relations.”

Gabriella Bernard, recovering from temporarily yielding to a well publicised scolding over her natural hair, impressed many of us with her youthful understanding of the need to overthrow stereotypes and to re-affirm the roots of self-esteem.

Photo: Colfire issued Maurice Ramirez a warning letter which described his hair as “unprofessional” and a violation of company policy which states that: “Hair should be kept clean, neat and well-groomed.”

In a Guardian interview, it was profound to read what Gabriella Bernard learned from her short term desire to move ahead in a modelling competition in which “you could jump through hoops for these people and they would still not pick you.”

Dear Gabriella, I wish that so many in this pliable society could attain your awareness; that we must move towards true acceptance of the real each other and that we have to stand our ground in order to do so.

Shelley, the romantic poet, philosophised in his poem ‘To a Skylark’ that “our sweetest songs are those that tell of saddest thought.”

Shelley would not have known that in Trinbago we gave skylark new meaning. We make skylark and yet make the sweetest music and deliver penetrating lyrics despite the pain and sadness that attacks on self-esteem, the ramblings of political conmen and the trains of mistrust regularly inflict on us.

About Martin Daly

Martin Daly
Martin G Daly SC is a prominent attorney-at-law. He is a former Independent Senator and past president of the Law Association of Trinidad and Tobago. He is chairman of the Pat Bishop Foundation and a steelpan music enthusiast.

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