Noble: The Story of Nalini; how contrived colonial rifts still divide our multi-cultural society

“The colour of the rulers may darken; the ethnicities might change, blur or merge, but the culture of the power structure remains.”

The quote from Jeff Henry in 2008—cited by Kerrigan in the UWI book ‘In The Fires’—explains how we are manipulated, even when we think we are in charge. This is the story of the recent voice notes which lays bare our reality, destroying the myth of ‘all ah we is one’. We may have a ‘rainbow country’ but the storm is not yet passed.

Photo: Nalini Ramai’s foul mouthed, racist response to losing Zee TV has gone viral.

The ‘Nalini’ incident is triggered by the undesired airing of unexpected programming on an East Indian cable channel. Zee TV is not a general audience channel; it is almost exclusively enjoyed by the East Indian communities on a Saturday night.

The provider’s indifference to this reality, in the light of sharp ‘colourful’ political lines, is driven by a desire to maximise their income coupled with a casual disrespect of the consumer’s payment for individualised entertainment. The desire of the channel’s audience is cast aside because of the dangled money. The empowered consumer responded, albeit inappropriately, but is this not the consumer activism we long for?

Unfortunately, the focus of the vented anger was another helpless actor, Keron, whose only role was answering the call. He was roundly cursed for his efforts.

Into the ensuing fray—sparked by the reckless rant, believed by Nalini to be private—ran Devant Maharaj, the erstwhile national discloser of secrets. He who had no qualms about disclosing private telephone numbers. Now, he takes the other side, reprimanding the whistle blower with the access to the company’s tapes.

‘Evil is what others do, not what me and friends do’ is encapsulated in his personal behaviour. Demanding that the company remove the offence, he works lamely to protect the erring foot soldier so as to preserve a chance to return to power. Truly, do so ent like so!

Photo: Former UNC Senator Devant Maharaj.
(Copyright I95.5fm)

To add salt to the wound of the national psyche, another leak—this time apparently from the Office of the Prime Minister—airs a tearful apology from Nalini.

Was this leak a heavy-handed, shameless, deliberate ploy to belittle a penitent citizen? One can only hope that, if true, Dr Keith Rowley ferrets out the offender. Nothing less will do.

Poor Nalini spoke what is unspoken in public places. Some among us, from both major ethnic groups, imbibe the political vitriol and are the loudest defenders of their party’s embrace of their financiers. These unfortunate persons are motivated by the anticipated economic rewards and live vicariously through their choice of politicians.

Remember the video footage of the UNC women protesting outside Parliament but not knowing what they were protesting? Or the famous picture of the PNM supporter with the broom in the 2015 celebrations?

They are pawns; they do not benefit from their efforts in the way that the power brokers do. In Nalini’s case, she has probably seen more direct benefits than the ‘broom sweeper’ and so she is enraged twice—disruption of her private viewing by the perceived ‘robber of her economic well-being’.

“Knowledge of the past must play a part in our liberation from the bonds of the past,” said Professor Elsa Goveia in 1959. “Our history is not dead knowledge. Its significance […] is vital and immediate.”

Photo: PNM gorillas disrobe a female UNC supporter during the infamous sari skit at the party’s 2018 Family Day.

Newly freed slaves and indentured labourers were set against each other by the colonising planters. Those who advocated for slavery in the 19th century used ‘race’ to justify its retention and claimed that the differences, which were socially constructed, were God-given.

We fell into one of three groups—Europeans, Africans or Indians—and the seeds of division were watered. Post-Independence, our two- party system splits us into two (one group remains outside the gayelle) and allows for an intense competition for political domination.

The state’s leading role in distributing scarce economic resources lead to fierce battles. Power brokers induce and finance their co-ethnics to believe that salvation only comes from ‘their’ people being in power.

Krishna Lalla and Jack Warner, in the 2010 general elections, are a prime example of this action. Their $1.5 million quarrel reached in the courts and the underlying reason was about who would be seen as the prime People’s Partnership financier.

SIS, owned by Lalla, was later accused of ‘snatching’ land worth $300 million on a $11,250 monthly lease. The financiers are yet to rise to consider the overall improvement of the country but focus on egging the supporters on in order to maximise gargantuan payoffs.

Photo: Former “Honourable” Ministers Anil Roberts (left) and Jack Warner were members of Kamla Persad-Bissessar’s People’s Partnership government.
(Copyright Trinidad Guardian)

The embrace of consumer baubles and increased conspicuous consumption is the currency of the supporters, for it is through these acquisitions that they hope to win respect and recognition from all others.

When Nalini used the epithet ‘nigger’, it is more than descriptive; it is political and can prove irrevocably divisive. We only need to look at Guyana’s history and current realities to understand the long-lasting effects of this type of mindset. The ‘Others’ are ‘pure evil, unfortunates’, a sentiment probably held in reverse by the ‘PNM till ah dead’ folk.

Not achieving our national goal of ‘together we aspire, together we achieve’ causes us to pay the economic price with abrupt changes to government policies and manpower changes based on electoral results. This also leads to our society becoming more unequal.

The rich continue to get richer while as dispensable proxies, the poor fight the divisive battles. This must stop. It is time for ‘every creed and race to find an equal place’.

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  1. This is such a well balanced article Noble,so well written.I am happy you did not fan the flames.

  2. The lady did not say anything that wasn’t said after the GE in 2010 , and by now everyone should make out Devant Maharaj and his uncle .

  3. Despicable.

    I fully commend the ‘whistleblower’ for revealing this recording. Clearly, there is something wrong with this family; readers may recall another member of the family cursing and swearing at a ‘red’ woman who called to rent a car from him and he demanded sex in exchange – when she refused, he turned ‘beast’. And yet another who beat a Venezuelan woman so badly she ended up in hospital. Yes, they are from the same family, I merely connected the dots.

    This is what happens when people are poorly educated and can’t think beyond the basics. The real irony is that one of This woman’s family members ran for office To be the local councillor some years ago, as a PNM candidate.

  4. All open and disguised racist allusions must be condemned. Niggas and yellow bellies must leave our hearts and lips…… time for real conversations and let’s go beyond mere tolerance

    • Brian Harry tbh, I know ppl who call the other race the ‘n’ word, and they are bff!
      It is only the the fairly recent past that these words have become so filled with hate and intolerance. Maybe it was just disguised better before.
      I think politicians use the divide and conquer rule. I still believe we are a fairly tolerant society, but that tolerance is constantly being tested.

    • Nerisha Mohammed I agree with the spirit of your comment. I have a major issue with the idea of tolerance as it suggest “up to a certain acceptable level”. I want my whole self to be respected, engaged and embraced. Also, I think that we excuse terms like “yellow bellies” when we know who the speaker refers to but we object to “niggas”, so once more we are willing to tolerate one term over the other. I’m uneasy with the language all around – maybe I’m just an uneasy soul.

    • Brian Harry ihu. I admit for the most part, I have not been exposed to blatant racism, nor have many ppl I know, as I grew up in a mixed community, hence maybe the reason I am not as sensitive.
      But I can appreciate that not everyone has this experience.
      From that point, I can appreciate your stance-not everyone may understand the context, or the relationship so better err on side of caution.
      I guess it boils down to being respectful more than being tolerant in some cases.

  5. race in this country at its worse and works both ways , fired by politicians, wasn’t it Williams who concretise this system, just asking

  6. The hypocrisy of Devant Maharaj is mindblowing.

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