Dear Editor: Choosing one more thing, should T&T finally formalise ‘Trinbagonian’ for its citizens?

“[…] As a nation, Trinidad and Tobago ought to be beyond the moment in which the word ‘Trinidadian’ constitutes a default adjectival encapsulation of things Trinidad and Tobago. 

“It is time to officially formalise the word ‘Trinbagonian’ or to institute an appropriately similar substitute that effectively reflects the conjoined community and polity of the Republic…”

The following Letter to the Editor, in response to a column by columnist Noble Philip entitled Choosing the One Thing; What T&T Missed Amidst the ‘Insidious’ Name-Calling, was submitted to Wired868 by Chambi Sey:

Photo: Trinbago Knight Riders supporters get behind their team during the CPL T20 final against against the Guyana Amazon Warriors at the Brian Lara Academy in Tarouba on 16 September 2018.
(Copyright Allan V Crane/ CA-Images/ Wired868)

I accept the columnist Noble Philip’s assertion that names and words matter. Therefore, in the interest of consistency, I am compelled to inquire whether the columnist’s recommendation of Bissessar and La Guerre (2013) as ‘worth a read for anyone interested in TRINIDADIAN politics’ (capitalised for emphasis) constitutes a corruption or erosion of his overarching assertion. 


The title of the book is Trinidad and Tobago and Guyana: Race and Politics in Two Plural Societies. Is the book’s content particularised to Trinidad? Was the reason for the columnist’s recommendation particularised to Trinidad?

Is ‘Trinidadian’ used by the columnist as all-encompassing vis-a-vis Trinidad and Tobago? 

As a nation, Trinidad and Tobago ought to be beyond the moment in which the word ‘Trinidadian’ constitutes a default adjectival encapsulation of things Trinidad and Tobago. It is time to officially formalise the word ‘Trinbagonian’ or to institute an appropriately similar substitute that effectively reflects the conjoined community and polity of the Republic.

Photo: Two spectators take a selfie during Trinidad and Tobago’s 2016 Independence Day Parade celebrations.
(Courtesy Chevaughn Christopher/ Wired868)

Words matter and, apparently, so do education and geography. Mysteriously, a prominent review of Bissessar and La Guerre in Choice—a publishing arm of the Association of College and Research Libraries, self-styled as an ‘authoritative source for the evaluation of scholarly resources’—states Bissessar and La Guerre ‘brilliantly explore how the THREE countries (capitalised for emphasis) share certain qualities but differ in predisposing factors’. 

Yes, three countries! Trinidad … and Tobago … and Guyana.

While on this note, permit me a relevant aside. The governments of Jamaica, Barbados and Guyana present the statement of nationality in their respective passports with the words ‘Jamaican’, ‘Barbadian’ and ‘Guyanese’.

Similarly, Australian and Canadian passports respectively state ‘Australian’ and ‘Canadian’ in response to nationality. ‘British Citizen’ is the declaration in United Kingdom passports. 

Photo: Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley.

It is instructive that Trinidad and Tobago passports treat nationality with the words ‘Republic of Trinidad and Tobago.’ Is that pragmatic and official avoidance of ‘Trinidadian’ as a troublesome adjective? Does it constitute the convenient exercise of an alternate passport convention?

Antigua and Barbuda, another twin-island entity, presents the statement of nationality with the words ‘Antiguan and Barbudan’. 

Perhaps the designator ‘Trinidadian and Tobagonian’ is too tedious, burdensome or inconvenient, but, conclusively, it is doubtful that ‘Trinidadian’ suffices as a long-term all-encompassing proposition in a twin-island unitary state. 

Correct, Mr Philip: words can elevate national goals.

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One comment

  1. This article resurrects an issue that has long existed and begging for a solution. When Julius Nyerere led Tanganyika and Zanzibar to independence, he wisely also established a name that incorporated both Tanganyika and its island sister Zanzibar with a new official name – Tanzania. It was both a sign of respect to the islanders of Zanzibar and provided a unified appellation to establish cohesiveness. Unwisely, we omitted that important symbolic name change at Independence and again when becoming a Republic. It is time to correct the error. We are Trinbagonians, citizens of Trinbago, a republic comprising the islands of Trinidad and Tobago. It is how we have colloquially referred to ourselves. Let’s make it official!

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