Afro Indo Unity: Can The Ganges Ever Meet The Nile? Part 3

Afro Indo Unity: Can The Ganges Ever Meet The Nile? Part 3

By N Oji Mzilikazi

December 20, 2011

(Originally published in Montreal Community Contact Volume 21, Number 26)

After the destruction of Jerusalem, Jews were dispersed all over the world. For centuries they were expelled from different countries; kicked from pillar to post, murdered, executed, and even forced to embrace Islam and Christianity.

Throughout their centuries of trials and tribulations, the Torah and Talmud were the keepers of their soul. It kept them united. It kept their culture and language alive. It empowered them towards the goal of freedom, cultural and religious preservation, and the desire to return to their homeland.

On the other hand, Africans enslaved and brought to the New World were deliberately stripped of religion, language and culture- things that are psychologically sustaining, and within which are elements intrinsic to positivity of race, self-affirmation and self-respect.

The loss of religion, language and culture resulted in a huge emptiness in the souls of Black folks. As goes the adage, “Nature abhors a vacuum.” The void created by the eradication of identity was replaced with a lot of different things, some of which contributed to the self-defeating behaviours, self-hate and dysfunction that continue to paralyse.

Slavery stripped the African soul bare from its moorings and left a lot of psychological disfigurement in its wake.

The conditions under which East Indians came to the West Indies and worked under were a far cry from that of the African. East Indians weren’t forced to come to the West Indies as Africans were- in chains. East Indians never felt whips on their backs to increase plantation productivity. East Indians never experienced torturous suffering or inhumane and sadistic punishment. That is not to infer they had an easy time under Indentureship.

East Indians came to the West Indies on their own volition. As Indentured labourers, they came bonded and with a contract that stipulated length of service, rights, privileges and a return passage back home.

They came with their soul, religion, culture and language intact. And more importantly, neither did their British masters nor did the Plantocracy have any machinations for their dissembling.

The freedom to maintain religion, culture, and ethnic integrity during Indentureship and after, allowed East Indians- both Hindus and Muslims to remain a collective.

Even if an East Indian strayed and went as far as converting to Christianity, he could easily return to his roots. His language, holy books and gastronomic culture was preserved and available for his extraction or indulgence. Enslavement ensured Africans in the West had no such reference.

When Indentured East Indians came in contact with ex-slaves on the plantation, they didn’t encounter a people that were whole or original. They encountered a people who had lost their language, religion, culture, knowledge of their history, and sense of self. They encountered a people denied education but on whose backs huge fortunes were made. They encountered a people socialised by abuse and violence and afflicted by plantation induced colorism- status and or value according to skin complexion.

Hundreds of years of miscegenation- with the island indigenous/Amerindian population and Europeans, had produced changes and variation to the physiognomy of the African population. And to which they- East Indians and others yet to come would add their DNA and further change.

When the Ganges encountered the Nile in the Caribbean, they came in contact with a people that historical forces- French, Spanish and English colonization had racially and culturally oppressed. In Trini parlance, they encountered a “Nowayrian.” A person who was neither this nor that, a person without discernable roots or belonging to anything, a person shaped by an aggregate of diverse influences.

Yet, out of that hotchpotch, self-determination, self-definition and culture emerged. The ex-slave was able to bring forth and establish as his culture, the synergy of different cultures that had impacted on his soul.

Despite the retention of cultural fragments, his identity wasn’t tied to Africa and people whose language he didn’t speak, and whose culture he didn’t know.

He didn’t see himself as an African with allegiance to Mother Africa. He couldn’t see it. Enslavement made sure that his linkage to Africa was severed, and Africa was a continent to be ashamed of. He was Negro.

Given all that occurred during centuries of the forced relationship, the African ex-slave saw his sweat and blood as contributing to his having a stake in his island home, as well as being part owner of its patrimony. He was proud to be a product of his particular island. He was faithful to it, and boldly represented its spirit. He was Trini to the bone, Bajan to the bone, Guyanese to the bone, Jamaican to the bone- nationalist to his island home.

It took the rise of Pan Africanism and worldwide reverberations of the Black power movement for Caribbean people of African descent to come to terms with, and accept that they were Africans, simultaneously an island to the bone person, as well as a West Indian. And those identities weren’t in conflict with each other.

Inasmuch as the religious and cultural link between East Indians in the Caribbean and India were never frayed, much more broken, East Indians rightfully felt they had nothing in common with African Caribbean people.

Island nationalism as exhibited by people of African descent was not in their books. They had Mother India into whose bosom they were scheduled to return. And so their allegiance was primarily to their ethnic and religious community.

Africans didn’t mind. They were about doing for self, forging an independent existence – building their own empire.

As detailed by Honourable Edmund Fredericks- within seven years after their freedom, the ex-slaves in Guyana purchased six plantations in Berbice and seven in Demerara to the value of $237,667.

Those plantations became villages of which Buxton, Plaisance, and Friendship are well-known. Later on, Buxton and Friendship were joined.

According to David A Granger’s “Victoria and the village movement” (Stabroek News 15/11/09): On November 7, 1839, eighty-three free men and women from five plantations paid $10,284 for Northbrook, a former cotton plantation of about 500 acres.

“Two-thirds of the money was paid right away in coins, delivered in a wheelbarrow, some of them still black with the mud in which they had been buried.”

The thrust for Black economic independence in Guyana (and elsewhere) led to the plantocracy and colonial hierarchy doing everything in their power to stymie growth. Consequently, they engaged in active discrimination against Africans to frustrate their hopes, dreams and ambitions.

For example, while laws were enacted to make it difficult for former ex-slaves to own land, land was offered to East Indians in lieu of their return passage to India.

As per Granger’s article- from 1862 “Special legislation was introduced to levy ‘improvement rates’ and to put up villagers’ property for sale to recover those rates if they remained unpaid.” Granger noted that by 1887, growth of the villages were halted. “The villages came under the control of state-appointed commissioners.”

It is to be expected that anyone forced into perpetual servitude would eventually hate their toil. So though land has always been one of the foundations for empire building, freed Africans moved away from “the source” of their enslavement, especially where there were indentured labourers to work the land.

In Trinidad, Africans overwhelmingly opted for protected living- to work for salary in other fields rather than engage in entrepreneurship- self-employment, being buyers and sellers or shop keepers. That cultural legacy accounted for Afro-Trinidadians not carrying the torch of entrepreneurialism when they go abroad.

Thus we see here in Montreal, and I suspect in the rest of Canada as well, it is much easier to find Blacks hailing from Jamaica, Barbados, Grenada, St. Vincent, and other islands in business before a Black Trini. And to know that Trinidad has always been considered the Mecca of the Caribbean.

The importation of East Indian Indentured labourers to fulfil the labour needs on plantations in Guyana and Trinidad, combined with industriousness and entrepreneurialism facilitated them becoming an economic powerhouse. The attainment of wealth and property, ability and opportunities to obtain same gave East Indians a stake in the society, and converted them into a “to the bone islander” as well.

The passage of time- a century plus residency in the West Indies resulted in certain aspects of East Indian culture being lost, discontinued or abandoned. Even some of their languages were to fall victim. Environmental, cultural and ideological transformation resulted in Mother India ceasing to be their heart and soul. Like Africans before them, history had given them new roots.

In spite of the love and nationalism of both Afro-West Indians and Indo-West Indians to their respective lands, ethnic misleaders persist and insist on dividedness and divisiveness. They refuse to process that racial antagonism and sustaining feelings of race-based dispossession are a recipe for violence and race-based crime. They refuse to process that economic prosperity goes hand in hand with social stability, and together both races aspire, together they achieve and the country enriched.

John Bolton Has No Shame

John Bolton Has No Shame

By N Oji Mzilikazi

December 19, 2011

In a December 15, op-ed piece in The Guardian (Uk), John Bolton lamented the complete withdrawal of American troops from Iraq. He called it a tragic mistake and stated:It jeopardises the gains made by President Bush’s (and Tony Blair’s) eminently correct 2003 decision to overthrow Saddam Hussein.”

To paint an illegal war- to which Blair, Bush and company deserve to be tried for crimes against humanity as “eminently correct,” underlines the neocon ideologies of prevarication and mendaciously defending the indefensible in the promotion of their politicised version of truth.

For all the evils attributed to Saddam, America’s invasion of Iraq set the country back at least 100 years, and Bolton has the audacity to speak of “gains.” Given the widespread destruction unleashed upon Iraq by Coalition Forces, and the subsequent increase of sectarian violence and suicide bombings against Iraqi civilians, pray tell, what were the gains and who were the real beneficiaries of said invasion?

It is one thing for a foreign power to overtly or covertly support an insurrectionist movement in a sovereign state, and quite another for a foreign power to invade that state. America was not invited by Iraqis to invade the country nor did they do so in support of revolutionary forces trying to overthrow Saddam Hussein.

Other than the companies for whom war and reconstruction are multi-billion industries, Israel was the sole beneficiary of America’s invasion of Iraq. Iraq was invaded on behalf of Israel- to make Israel safer. It was Israel getting its war against an ancient enemy on by proxy.

Some years ago at a Washington 15 Conference, a United Jewish Communities event, Lawrence Eagleburger, former U.S. Secretary of State made the point “that those people who might want to ‘cut and run’ from Iraq now are endangering Israel.” He added that leaving Iraq made Iran stronger. Clearly the invasion of Iraq was all about Israel.

In the aftermath of Iraq in ruins, the entire world was a witness to Israel summarily beating the drums of war against Iran- another ancient enemy, and doing everything in her power to get Bush to bomb Iran before he left office. Especially after Hillary Clinton lost the nomination to be the Democratic presidential nominee.

Since as a senator, Obama had opposed the invasion of Iraq, the proponents for the bombing of Iran knew that in no way, shape or form would Obama as president of America sanction the invasion of Iran. Thus Obama opponents oft described him, prior to becoming president of America and after, as “not a true friend of Israel.”

Nevertheless, we have seen Israel, and both Canadian and American Israelophile hawks continually push the “bomb Iran to save democracy” line. And they always bring it up at times when the Obama administration is under severe stress.

Americans and others have a right to fear the consequences of American troops leaving Iraq. And for that- Bush, Blair, Cheney, Rove and the Field Marshal with their imperial games are to be blamed. They toppled Humpty Dumpty and didn’t clean up the mess – put the country infrastructures back in place. Not that they had any intention of doing so.

How would you feel, if someone broke into your home and completely trashed it? Wouldn’t you be out for revenge and or want to see them caught and punished?

Legally, a person who damages the property of another must make the person whole either through repairing the damage or paying for it. Sometimes the case is made for punitive damage to further punish the wrongdoer.

Millions of hungry and angry Iraqis who experienced the devolution of their nation state by American hands open the door for blowback.

“Karma can be a devastating bytch.”

Is it any wonder in 2008, Republican presidential nominee John McClain indicated he was for staying the course in Iraq. He was willing to turn the invasion for the liberation of Iraq into an occupation – keep American troops in Iraq for one hundred years.

Since the withdrawal of American troops was a done deal, Bolton had no qualms exposing the neocon agenda. “Overthrowing the regimes in Iran and Syria could have been substantially advanced during the US military presence in Iraq,” he wrote. Consequently, he characterized Obama as weak and indecisive.

Who is the beneficiary to a destabilised Iran and Syria? Israel.

It’s interesting the way Americans are so cavalier to the overthrowing of regimes. Yet, when Japan struck at Pearl Harbour and Bin Laden on 9/11, they invoked the mantle of righteousness and displayed wonderment as to why they were attacked. One cannot sow the wind and not reap whirlwinds.

Afro Indo Unity: Can The Ganges Ever Meet The Nile? Part 2

Afro Indo Unity: Can The Ganges Ever Meet The Nile? Part 2

By N Oji Mzilikazi

December 8, 2011

(Originally published in Montreal Community Contact Volume 21, Number 25)

In “Trini 2 De Bone,” David Rudder’s 2003 paean to Trinibago, there is a telling line, “How we vote is not how we party.” Applicable to Guyana as well, that line encapsulates the underlying division and discord between Indo and Afro West Indians.

As much as members of both ethnicities party together, work alongside one other, partake of the culinary culture of the other, cohabitate, intermarry and have children with each other, when it comes to elections, Apan Jhaat – Hindi for “vote for your own kind” rules – irrespective to religious differences or long-standing religious hatred.

In the Indian sub-continent: Hindu India, Muslim Pakistan and Sikhs cannot stand one other.  They have continually engaged in acts of aggression and terrorism against one another and frequently threaten each other with war.

On June 22, 1985, Vancouver-based Sikh militants fighting for an independent homeland in India planted bombs in suitcases on two planes at Vancouver International Airport.

One of the bombs exploded at Tokyo’s Narita airport, while being transferred to an Air India flight, killing two baggage handlers. Fifty-five minutes later the second bomb exploded on Air India Flight 182 as it approached the coast of Ireland. 329 persons were killed.

In August 2007 the Montreal Gazette ran a story about 84-year-old Uday Singh, a retired university math professor. Entitled, “No room in his heart for Hindu,” Singh was quoted as saying that Hindus are the traditional enemies of Sikhs, and Sikhs and Hindus cannot live on the same planet together.

Singh is not an ignoramus. Sikhism is a rather young religion- a little more than 500-years-old. It was birthed out of Hinduism that boasts thousands of years of history. However, the nature of ethnic/cultural/religious parochialism, racism and concepts of superiority facilitate irrational hatred.

Though Singh has resided in Canada since 1961, neither Canada’s multiculturalism bent nor its ethnically diverse population or the passage of time were able to engender ideological modification.

Interestingly enough, intra-religious animosity and conflict among East Indians in the Caribbean diaspora is almost non-existent.

In the face of huge numbers of people of African descent in Trinidad and Guyana, the ideology of Apan Jhaat dictated East Indians who are Muslims, Hindus and Christians stay united against Blacks.

Anand Ramlogan, T&T’s current Attorney General, was once a columnist for the Trinidad Guardian.  In his November 25, 2007, “Potential for political growth” article, he enumerated some of the things that supported a common bond among East Indians. A bond that “was intensified by the common socio-economic base—the once great and mighty Caroni 1975 Ltd—and religious and cultural factors.”

The sugar cane industry was controlled and operated by Caroni. Continuing, he stated, “Indians voted more as a mark of protest against their alienation, marginalisation and under-development than anything else.” At the end of the day it was still Apan Jhaat.

Cementing Apan Jhaat and entrenching East Indian political tribalism was the positioning of Blacks as “Ravanas” – the demonic race that Lord Rama fought against, and with whom they were contending with for political control in Trinbago and Guyana respectively.

East Indian racial loyalty and ethnic solidarity was further enforced by the curse, fear and threat of “Neemakharamism” – Hindi for ungratefulness.

The invocation of “Neemakharam”- usually directed at someone in a power position is to accuse him or her of racial betrayal or ethnic infidelity. It is meant to intimidate and ensures no deviation from orthodoxy, whatever that is deemed to be.

Ramlogan mentioned above, and in the said article, made mentioned of opposition leader Basdeo “Panday berating, bullying and even blackmailing (Indian) people who did not vote for the UNC.”

The COP – Congress of the People had entered the recently concluded election fray as an alternative party to the Afro-dominated PNM and Indo-dominated UNC, though overwhelming supported by East Indians.

Trinidad Guardian columnist Denzil Mohammed in his May 2, 2004, “My barbarous (hair) roots” stated that his previous column got him in trouble with “his peeps.” He was threatened by email, called a shame to his race, Creole, had his Indianess questioned and the like. He pointed out, There still exists that unwritten rule of not talking against your people.” And that is what “Neemakharamism” enforces.

Guyanese journalist Freddie Kissoon October 26, 2011, article in Kaieteur News, “Sempiternal light versus eternal evil: Memories of Diwali” is quite interesting. He mentioned some of the trifling condemnation that arose during three decades of Black rule in Guyana. Like the national ID card being “a strategy by Burnham to spy on Indian people” and the National Security Act as “a law designed to lock up the PPP and its supporters.”

The Guyanese PPP – People’s Progressive Party stated out as a multiracial party. Forbes Burnham broke away and formed the People’s National Congress (PNC). The PPP then became an “Indo-Guyanese party” and the PNC an Afro-Guyanese Party.

Kissoon opined that the Diwali prayers of yesterday were for the Black dictators to vanish, and they did. “Today, Lord Rama and Lord Krishna and Mother Laxhmie will be asked to protect the new dictators. Because they are Indians.”

While it is natural for social groupings to be made along racial, ethnic, socio-economic and class lines, the colonial European model of governance based on ethnicity and divisive, exclusionary and discriminatory policies and practices set the tone for its continuation when self-rule became a reality. Hence the reason Afro and Indo Guyanese and Afro and Indo Trinbagonians are often at each other’s throat.

Education advances social mobility. Conversely, the lack of education traps and impoverish as it relegates its owner to strictly low paying and physically demanding jobs.

Economics was at the heart of colonialism and African enslavement. Racism was the by-product and supportive infrastructure. Racism served economics by keeping people uneducated and poor.

Slave laws prohibited enslaved Africans from learning to read and write. In post-slave societies like in the American South, the right to vote was bestowed on only those who could read or write. Such a trick bag was to limit economical and political growth of Blacks, and recycle poverty and dysfunction.

It is no coincidence that the East Indians recruited and selected for the British Indentureship program were uneducated, illiterate and poor. Profit is built on the backs of such folks. And in light of the Abolition of slavery, East Indians were the perfect foil to thwart the economical and political progress of freed Africans.

Indentureship created competition for labour. It was akin to management hiring scabs to replace striking workers or to pressure them to accept an unfavourable contract. Two different ethnic groups vying for the same jobs allowed the white planter to keep wages low, reap greater profits and manipulate and exploit the differences between them.

Detailed study by historians of note made the case that Indentured labour in the West Indies was a failure. It was not needed. On the other hand, it was good political strategy. The ensuing distrust and enmity from the cultural clash between East Indians and Africans ensured the perpetuation of the Plantocracy culture and white rule.

Political power gives access to the economic purse of a nation. Never mind that in a democracy the State cannot engineer or be complicit in disenfranchising any of its citizens on account of race, ethnicity or religion. Advocates and adherents to ethnocentrism recognize being in power can elevate “their” people; give their members the best jobs, establish and protect hegemonies even if it meant the disenfranchisement of the “other.”

Ethnocentrism predicated equality, meritocracy, and national unity as in ending divisions based on ethnicity or race as bad politics. And so for decades, the politics of race has been well-entrenched in Trinidad and Tobago and Guyana.


To be continued.





Dr. Clarence Bayne, Une Minute S’il Vous Plaît!

Dr. Clarence Bayne, Une Minute S’il Vous Plaît!

By N Oji Mzilikazi

December 5, 2011

Philosophically a contradiction is a unity of opposites. For example: night and day, black and white, positive and negative, good and evil. They all depend on their opposite for meaning.

On the other hand, when a person is called a walking contradiction, there is no foundational or ideological unity or balance. There is no integration of self. The person has no ideological position other than that which is conveniently expedient.

Detailed examination of your words Dr. Bayne reveals that you are a walking contradiction. To repeat, your criticism of others are never rooted in critical analysis but in bitterness and protection of what you consider “your space.”

You come off like those old Arab and African dictators whose time has passed, are bankrupt of ideas, but desperately afraid to go gently into the good night. Rather than be satisfied with memories of the “good ole days of the struggle,” your profitability from it, and be welcoming to new voices, you prefer to do a Mugabe Buthelezi combination.

You come off desperate to make yourself relevant, as well as brutish. Having an oversized ego doesn’t help either. When has any outsider else ever cared about our community? Still, you want to appear to outsiders as being the “Black” voice of reason. What a joke!

Ron Licorish is your buddy. You called him “my friend” (Community Contact 6/1/11). You and Ron, along with several others secretly went to City Hall to inject yourselves in to the Carnival debacle that went before the courts. Yet, in the last Contact you went for Ron’s jugular over his proposal of a Caribbean Canadian Community Congress, and in a rather unbecoming manner. If that’s how you treat friends I can’t imagine you having any.

Licorish was the past president of CCFA. He contributed money to fighting the court case against MCDF. As an officer of the CCFA, his participation as well as any criticism of Carifiesta in the Community Contact is therefore treasonous. Even if Licorish failed to recognize that, surely you with your intellectual perspicacity didn’t.

You never informed Ron as “how going to City Hall go look” to CCFA membership. Having him on board was to have a “Carifiesta heavyweight.” You didn’t see fit to use your profile and act as a mediator between CCFA and MCDF immediately upon the suspension of the 2010 Carifiesta. Instead, like an opportunistic hyena and under the guise of community interests you waited.

And what did the Committee achieved in going to City Hall? Nought. And after your shameless running to City Hall, you had the temerity to attack those invited there, as you described, “to drink cheap wine and eat ethnic food.”

Is that the reason you weren’t present for its Commemoration of the Abolition of Slavery this past August? I can understand. After 30-something years of drinking that cheap stuff with different mayors you can no longer get a “head.” And to know, I thought the Black leaders missing from the event was on account of it not being their initiative but that of Dan Phillips.

Who would’ve “thunk” it was the wine? As both you and I know – Black leaders in Montreal do not show solidarity with one other.  The egotistical need of wanting to be perceived as chief leader has left some unwilling to share the stage and vocalizing the same. Some even bad-talking their “competition” to City Hall.

In your effort to berate Licorish’s idea, you flippantly resorted to saying that even with their Congress; Jews aren’t protected from anti-Semtism. To bring Jews into your argument reeks of intellectual dishonesty. Who can deny the economic and political clout of the Jews? Not to mention, they have friends in high places.

They have a Congress as well as numerous active organizations that defend Jewry and promote its interests. Neither Blacks nor West Indian/Caribbean people have any such institution to look out for the Caribbean and or Africa’s interest. None of the many West Indian organizations/associations in our community has a political mandate, and none of the islands’ associations have ever demonstrated a united front to anything. But ready you were to shut down Ron.

Jewish ownership of media- print and audiovisual allows for their issues and stories to be always front page and center, and their image protected at all times. Media titans Rupert Murdock and Robert Maxwell are Jews. Have you ever seen Hollywood films portray Jews in the manner they do Blacks?

When Canadian media mogul, Israel (Izzy) Asper died in October 2003, Daphne Bramham writing in the Vancouver Sun decribed him as “a committed Zionist.” She quoted him saying, “In all our newspapers, including the National Post, we have a very pro-Israel position.” Izzy also owned the Montreal Gazette.

Repeated letters and calls to the Gazette in respect to their usage of “black” in the negative as in “black mark,” and not capitalising the “b” as in “Black,” when referring to us – for then “Black” becomes a proper noun- grammar 101 teaches proper nouns are always capitalized, are always met with outright refusal.

Calls to the Gazette over their allowance of “Niggas” to be published, rather than the “N-word” in T’cha Dunlevey’s November 24 review of the Jay Z and Kanye West show was met with indifference. Even the blind can see that a strong Black organisation can pressure the Gazette in ways individual voices can’t.

Have you ever endorsed or promoted anything that wasn’t your own Dr. Bayne? Self-conceit allows you to believe you are the only person who can do things right.  You put forward, The community leadership that is getting the attention of the various levels of government do not seem to understand the economics of entrepreneurship.” (Community Contact 8/4/10)

For good measure you signed off as president of the Black Studies Center (BSC) and director of ICED, JMSVB at Concordia University. Titles that indicate you are eminently qualified to dispense, and further you, because you had your own entrepreneurship thing going.

While you want to go about triumphantly beating your chest like a big “sawathie,” do you care to explain why your, and the much lauded by you Black Studies Center (BSC) lost its Tax Exempt Status in 1986? Up until recently, and Peter Francis efforts to its revitalization, it was still being under-utilized.

By virtue of offices held, you were part of the cadre of leadership that have the community presently on its knees. So it is duplicitous and hypocritical of you to present yourself as insightful.

When Bob White pointed out that Blacks didn’t own Union Church, your response was that the St. James United Church roof is leaking and its steps crumbling and the catholic religious institutions are infested by pedophiles.” (Community Contact 4/11/10)

That “why complain when others have it just as bad” tact of yours, is Uncle Tominism and appeasement to a warp ideology at its best. Like the Jews, St. James’ access to resources is 100 times easier than Blacks.  And to know Dr Bayne, you are an educated man who “fought” for Blacks back in the day.

You gave a “props” to the satire of Bob White then condescendingly put him down with, “It needs fine tuning.” Isn’t White is the same guy you described  as the inner voice of fear and low self-esteem…the embodiment of hopelessness?” And that “he and his barber shop boys are depressingly wrong and disrespectful.” (Community Contact 4/11/10)

Have you ever reach out to Bob to enlighten him on the ways and means to improve his satirical skills?

As an elder in the community, have you ever privately reached out to anyone, including any among those you described as “so-called Black columnists” to teach them the error of their ways?

As implied in that phrase, you even want to deny them their blackness. Clearly that green-eyed monster has gotten the better of you. And to know Dr Bayne, you are an educated man who “fought” for Blacks back in the day.

Then again Clarey, you were always a reactionary. Weren’t you the co-editor of Umoja – the Black newspaper founded in 1969 to counter UHURU, the radical Black Montreal newspaper?

Such is your disconnection you advised the youth (Community Contact 4/11/10) not to allow themselves “to become victims of hopelessness.” Threw in “failure is the fabric from which human species construct success models.” Also foolishly quoted, “Feel the pain and fall, but rise again to feel the pain again” from the 1970 Black Theatre Workshop (BTW) play, “How Now Black Man.”

Consider that in your April 8, 2010, Community Contact article, “25 years and no change” you made the point, “The data on employment over the last quarter century show that…whether the person has a degree…Blacks live out lives exposed to low incomes, and employment…the market discrimination against Blacks is persistent, pervasive and brutal.”

Against entrenched and deliberate racism and discrimination it is impossible to “construct success models” unless through legal challenges. So that axiom about “failure” is applicable to whites and others who are not actively discriminated against.

Only sadists embrace pain. Pain can twist a soul to hate the world. No person wants to fall and rise to pain. That a Black professor said it in a play doesn’t make it logical. Then again, there are “educated fools from uneducated schools” to quote Curtis Mayfield.

In an April 05, 2008, Gazette interview with Rev. Gray about Black leadership and educators discussing an Afrocentric school, Gray stated, “We have kids dropping out of school and dropping into prison. A 40-per-cent dropout rate for blacks – when blacks are seven per cent of the population.”

Such statistics show that our youths are already victims of hopelessness Dr. Bayne. Several studies by McGill University- namely, a Black person with a university degree is on par with a white person without one, and that that white person has a better chance at employment than the Black with certification reaffirm conditions that lead to hopelessness.

Must one imagine the employment prospects facing uneducated Blacks? So, why your obtuseness in regards to the prevailing hopelessness that is consuming Black youth, and which is accentuated by racial profiling and police harassment?

In “Who is this Garvin Guy?” (Community Contact 4/11/10) you said to the youths, “Have a good time, party, get down, but persevere in following your dreams.”

Is that what our youths need to hear given the current economic climate worldwide, employment unavailability brought on by outsourcing, the huge unemployment in the Black community, and the paralysis and dysfunction that define our community?

Hasn’t the race been forever consumed with partying? We have no infrastructures in place, much more own the places we party- and that is your advice. Shouldn’t we cease building other people empires, stress sacrifice and delaying personal gratification to our youths to actualize their dreams?  And to know Dr. Bayne, you are an educated man who “fought” for Blacks back in the day.

You delight in waving the BTW as a Black achievement. What has it done for the community? Where are our local playwrights and local plays? Have you ever opened up its space for the development and or rehearsals of local plays being staged in a “community” location, or did a  BTW production just for community consumption or for a community event?

Maybe you need to go to Jamaica and Trinbago and experience the vibrancy of their theaters/plays – the speaking of them to them without the slightest desire or thought of outside authentication or appreciation. All BTW productions target the white community.

In a November 2010 Hour magazine interview you said that 70 per cent of the BTW audience is white. While a lot of times people hide behind, “We (Blacks) don’t support we thing,” the question that is never asked is if the community was ever targeted and how. And a lot of times it isn’t effectively marketed to – putting flyers in locations that serve the community is not sufficient unto itself.

Is the concept of selling blackness to whites the rationale behind you saying we “must have the courage to reach beyond our ethnicity, we must step out of our cultural box without forgetting its location.” (Community Contact 9/9/10)

I have no problem with any whose master plan is to pedal blackness. This I know. One cannot habitually cater to whites and not lose part of their soul and or be disconnected to the Black struggle. Folks like Tiger Woods, Michael Jordan, Michael Jackson and O.J. Simpson quickly come to mind.

At one point in time the Communist Party used white women to entrap the Black intelligentsia. And so many Black communists like CLR James married white. James wife was Jewish. Black power gave Black men access to the forbidden fruit of white women and boy, did they eat.

Harry Belafonte is mixed. That plantation derived “one-drop” rule of ethnicity pretty much made him Black and having no choice but to align with Black causes in America.

Belafonte’s first wife is described as a “well-to-do Negro girl.” I’ve never seen a photograph of her to note her skin-complexion. Belafonte then married Jewish.

I have never seen a photograph of the husband of Adrienne, his eldest daughter to know if he is white.  However, his son David married white, his daughter Gina married white, and daughter Shari married white twice.

One could surmise that while Belafonte’s grandchildren are going to recognize his contribution to the Civil Rights struggle, their racial blend-diminished blackness positions them to be far removed from the sphere of contention and struggle people of African descent continue to experience.

That none of his children married Black- given his lifework speak volumes and epitomizes “reaching beyond our ethnicity and stepping out of our cultural box.”

While there are talkers, there are those who walk the talk.  Upon discovering Black consciousness, LeRoi Jones divorced his Jewish wife. It was undoubtedly a rather drastic move. He felt having a white wife was incongruous to Black pride. What a man, eh!

Jones became Amiri Baraka.  And since Dr. Bayne, you have a relationship with Baraka, you gladly quoted him to support your put down of Licorish but you couldn’t walk in his shoes.

Dr. Bayne, you enjoy being the drum major for “progressive blackness” and yet had the nerve to say to our youth, “The time has come to when you must truly reconstruct our noble past.”

Pray tell, what glorious past are you talking about? The mythical when we were Kings, island tribalism, divisiveness, and the weak infrastructures, lack of economical and political empowerment the progenitors of today’s youth – the immigrants that came in the early 60s and early 70s left?

All around us our organizations are dead, dying a slow death or going out of business because of fossilized leadership rooted in antiquated ideologies, dictatorial leadership, bad and mismanagement, cronyism, persons feeling they are bigger than an organization, and leadership only doing for self?

Should I use quotes from your September 13, 1993, letter to the BCCQ attesting to some of the same, and which outlined reasons for your withdrawal of the BSC from under their umbrella? And I’m not talking about you saying things like the BCCQ leaders “are repeat offenders, poor management is chronic and where highly risky behaviour is justified by statements such as we cannot dwell on the pass.”

Deceitfully you penned a full page response (Community Contact 7/21/11) berating me over my castigation of leadership.

Obviously my comments are still “stuck in your craw,” as evidenced by your wonderment as to why “there was no public outcry” over them. (Community Contact 24/11/11)

Haven’t you recognized that my assertions are always supported with facts: who said what, date, time and place – that I’m sure an Internet search will verify?

I hope you aren’t labouring under the impression that I arrived here on the last banana boat. It was actually the second to last.

Fact: many of our community stewards betrayed both the community and the cause- promoting its advancement, because of of what they could extract either through the funding/government grant money that came their way or through seeking to financially exploit the name recognition they received from community work.

That none of our stewards were ever publicly censored by “us” or by outsiders, or none of them made a jail doesn’t mean books weren’t cooked, and “bobol” and “rachafee” didn’t have their way. And that applies to those in the promotion/fete business also.

In quoting Frantz Fanon’s “Wretched of the Earth” you said, “We must look within ourselves and face our own lies.” At least, I know my mirror isn’t broken.

Afro Indo Unity: Can The Ganges Ever Meet The Nile? Part 1

Afro Indo Unity: Can The Ganges Ever Meet The Nile? Part 1

By N Oji Mzilikazi

November 24, 2011

(Originally published in Montreal Community Contact Volume 21, Number 24)

In the article, “Where Did Black Power Go?” in the previous issue of this newspaper, I mentioned that for more than 160 years the meandering paths of the Ganges and the Nile in the West Indies resulted in an inter-connected narrative. Lamented was that distrust, tribalism and ethnocentrism continued to colour the relationship between former African slaves and former indentured East Indians with virulent strains in Trinidad and Guyana.

Allegations of racism in Trinidad and Tobago have escalated so much, Prakash Ramadhar, Minister of Legal Affairs and Leader of the Congress of the People (COP) recently stated that “The issue of race was very serious and will destroy the nation if not dealt with properly.”

He made it known his party was embarking on a nationwide discussion entitled “Race and Politics–50 years of Independence.”

Caribbean people can never come to terms with the racial sickness that ails unless addressed. When racial tension or discontent between Africans and Indians in Trinidad and Guyana begin to simmer or erupt, we don’t see their various island associations here in Montreal calling meetings to address them.

We don’t see concerned Trinbagonians and Guyanese nationals of both races discussing solutions, or jointly sending letters/emails to the political parties and newspapers in their homeland sharing their concerns, offering recommendations, or pleading with them to build a better bridge to each other and satisfactorily resolve issues to prevent a future flare up.

Since living in foreign metropolises frees Afro-West Indians and Indo-West Indians from having to deal with unresolved issues surrounding race and identity in the Caribbean, they speak to one other in their same ethnic group to affirm or deny allegations or demonize the other. They continue to lime, talk shytt, play cards, cricket, soccer, party together and in a feigned sense of brotherhood affirm “all ah we is one.”

Indenturship, immigration and the free movement of people up and down the chain of islands irrevocably changed the concept of identity, ethnicity and nationalism in the West Indies, especially in the larger islands.

There is the “Island Mix” where parents are from two different islands and their child or children were born or raised in another or different island. The child(ren) can then claim nationalistic identity of three different islands/countries.

While there are West Indians whose phenotype are decidedly African, Indian, Spanish, Asian, European and middle-Eastern, huge numbers are of blended ethnicities and in a multitude of combinations that defy classification.

Consider there are also persons who appear to be 100 per cent East Indian, yet one of their parents or a grandparent was of African descent. Then there are Chinese and Japanese with Black and or Indian bloodline, and or Chinese and Japanese who have children with or married African and or Indian.

When it comes to race it is impossible for Caribbean people to speak with one voice. And regardless of how much we hold on to our Africanness, Indianess, Chineeness, Syrianess etc., when we migrate abroad we do not fit into those communities from which we derive our ethnicity.

Our Caribbeaness, our West Indian culture sets us apart. Still, rather than build on commonalities and advance our West Indianess, we tend to be dispassionate though passionate and loyal to our country of origin.

Least one believe that since we are here, and those things are happening over there, we shouldn’t worry because we aren’t directly affected by it, let me remind you that cancer spreads if left unattended. Moreover, there are persons abroad- here in Canada and elsewhere who have their hands and dollars in the politics “back home” and or fan the flames of racialism from abroad.

In Trinidad and Tobago the PNM is considered an Afro-Trinidadian political party and the UNC, Indo-Trinidadian. In 2005 there was bitter infighting within the UNC. Some members wanted Winston Dookeran to replace Opposition Leader Basdeo Panday at its head.

When Dookeran came to Canada for the 2006 Toronto UNC branch convention, he was overwhelmingly endorsed to lead the UNC into the next general elections.

On December 2, 2005, Dookeran was feted by the Friends of UNC New York, at the Tropical Gardens on Atlantic Avenue. Jay Rakhar, its chairman, was proud to state for the record that one third of those in attendance were Trinidadians. The rest were Guyanese.

Why would Indo-Guyanese nationals want to get involved in the politics of Trinidad?

For the longest while there have been rumours of aspirations to establish Hinduraj or Hindu political power in Trinidad and Guyana. The alleged directive was for East Indians at home and abroad to support the “Indian” political parties in both countries irrespective to their country of birth.  And so Hinduraj was seen as accounting for the huge Guyanese presence at the function.

Ignoring that Trinidad was always the Mecca of the Caribbean and so attractive to other islanders, Indo-centric historical revisionists have been making the claim that Eric Williams shored up the East-West corridor with Afro-“Small Islanders” to keep Indo-Trinidadian down.

Afro-centric persons look upon current Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar favourable attitude to Guyana and India as a conspiracy to recreate Bombay in Trinidad, and the single-mindedness of the Attorney General to go after the former prime minister as racial vindictiveness. It never stops.

While it might never stop, dialogue never hurts. And that’s the trust in this series of articles.