In July 1995 the Bosnia massacre in the town of Srebrenica, took place. Invading Serbian forces killed 8,000 persons in five days—genocide in what was supposed to be a United Nations safe zone, occupied by UN peacekeeping forces. No outside help went in.
An All Stars elder and a valued compere rang to thank me for not writing about Venezuela. Caricom may posture, but like me, he understands that the big powers intervene in other countries on a selective and self-interested basis.
If you don’t have oil or gas, other mineral wealth or strategic importance, crapaud smoke yuh pipe if you in trouble.
That’s why my compere recited some lines from Cypher. When Rhodesia—now Zimbabwe—then under Ian Smith’s minority white rule made its unilateral declaration of Independence, Cypher sang:
“Where is Great Britain who is full in charge with a madman like Smith in charge? Jagan break an egg in BG and they send a battleship to arrest he.”
BG, now Guyana, was then British Guiana. In kaiso, Guyana was also well regarded for plantain according to Sparrow:
“One BG plantain does full up the pot, it’s so satisfying specially when hot.”
This column is returning to the essential Trinbago we would like to save, the one full of good humour and lyrics, on and off stage, unique music and good food made with a sweet han’ not easily reproduced by others, at least outside the Caribbean—all surrounded by good natured attitudes.
You do not have to go back in times or look for ‘old people’ to find it. Currently I am enjoying going around the pan yards, the good night greeting as one walks to the yard in Charlotte Street or corner Duke and George Streets and other places, and the exchanges with acquaintances within the yards.
As I will shortly recall for readers and put in the context of a recent house guest, all over Trinbago is like that—but yet it is also besieged by violence and sleaze.
Sadly, political and other leaders rarely lime without entourages or requiring to be ‘received’, so they do not hear the people on the people’s terms or grasp what we should invest in. The blue light blindness sets in early o’clock. The aloofness persists until they get dethroned and become damaged goods.
A god daughter, who lives in England was on a week’s visit. This visitor, now a wife and mother of three, was born and had lived in Trinidad but emigrated when young. Emigration did not blunt her memory of tamarind balls, sugar cake and roti.
She did not visit a panyard. Her interests lie outdoors so the North coast was one obligatory lime. I did not make the walk to La Foret via the drive to Toco but, such is the warmth of essential Trinbago, that I was able to send and entrust her without hesitation to regulars on such walks.
After fairly regular visits she had not been here for seven years, obligations of motherhood restricting travel and length of stay. The western or village end of Maracas Bay was delightful, but horror struck when my visitor saw the ‘buildings’—a kind word—imposed between the road and the ocean.
Reversing this, as well as dismissing the beach chair touts, will be a test of the tourism authorities under their new alias. The environment does not live by glossy ads or announcements.
They have not managed—at least not yet—to destroy Las Cuevas, always a favourite of mine. There, on a ‘break biche’ Friday, we enjoyed the abundance of good mornings; but the visitor’s enduring memory was this: on her own, buying sugar cake, she mentioned to the vendor she was buying it to take back for her older sister, who had also lived in Trinidad.
The vendor’s response was: “I will give you an extra sugar cake for that.”
I depict this personal incident within the wider canvas of my regular painting of where the hope and material for our salvation lives.
Who will put a proper investment value on that extra sugar cake—symbolic of enterprise, musical, entertainment and hospitality skills?