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Ungrateful Islanders

Ungrateful Islanders

By N Oji Mzilikazi

August 22, 2012

Eddie Charles is an internationally known soca artist out of the twin Islands of Trinidad and Tobago. He was in Montreal for its Carnival festivities – rocking the house at every event in which he appeared. He was also one of the thousands who attended the July 21, 2012, Vincy Day – SVG – St. Vincent and the Grenadines picnic at Brown’s Bay Provincial Park in Ontario.

Other than a gospel singer out of the U.S., the acts on the SVG stage were local. With no thoughts as to financial remuneration, Charles’ Montreal “man of business” felt Eddie performing on their stage would be a boon and boost. He was rebuffed three times. The reason – “they” didn’t want any Trini on their stage. The telling confirmed to me there and then by Eddie Charles himself.

Anti-Trini sentiments have been a constant in Montreal for the longest while now. Like a lil boy who in seeing his “pee bounce back and froth” thinks he is man; many people from smaller West Indian islands have been pissing on Trinidad and Tobago, now that they live abroad, are in numbers, and in some cases are doing well.

They act as if their country has gas and oil reserves like Trinidad and Tobago, so they’re economically on par, and they and theirs are better. And in the zealousness of their island nationalism, false sense of self, and that they run things out here, “dey doh” support events when the promoters are from the islands of the red, white and black and/or one of theirs is not on the bill.

They conveniently choose to forget that Trinbago has always been the mecca of the Caribbean. That their relatives and even parents left their island home to go to Trinidad to improve their fortunes – to “look fuh wok” and/or go to school. Some found husband, wife, man, woman, and had children. Some choose to settle there. Some used T&T as a springboard to foreign shores. Others went back home with their Trini born children or left their children in T&T.

They conveniently choose to forget that like pumpkin vine, Trins have family in every island, and every island has family in T&T. That Grenadian, Bajan and Vincy roots run deep in the soul of Trinidad and Tobago, and that many “great” Trinis have island roots.

Mr. William Munroe, the man behind “Soca Monarch”- the biggest Carnival show in T&T, is Grenadian.

They conveniently choose to forget how much Trinbago has been financially generous to other West Indian islands including theirs, especially in times of disasters.

Talk about ungrateful islanders. It is Trinidad and Tobago that gave the world pan, calypso and soca. Trinbago’s Carnival allows artists from every Caribbean country to come and “eat ah food. Many artists from other islands can attest that appearing/performing in ‘the big yard” – in Trinidad and Tobago during Carnival was the catalyst for their international success and acclaim.

Yet, a Trini, a professional exponent of soca, and someone who has performed on numerous international stage wasn’t good enough to be on that Vincy stage – “free, gratis, and for nothing.”

By all means love yuh national identity, but don’t be backwardly ignorant and stupid when it comes to the region’s history, and the common hurdles faced by people of African descent in the diaspora.

It is shameful and sad, that there are those willing to pursue – engage in island tribalism; discriminate according to island, as if that ideology elevates and empowers community, while others of the wider society including law enforcement only see our blackness and otherness.

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Sense & Sensibilities

Sense & Sensibilities

By N Oji Mzilikazi

July 12, 2012

(Originally published in the Montreal Community Contact Volume 22, Number 13)

Ti m’ba r’oto ma so, o le panu mi de
Je’nwi temi o, o le panu mi de
Otito ko ro, o le panu mi de
Bo ti mi mo’le o, o le panu mi de
Otito ko ro o, omo araiye o fe
Be fe, befe o, mi a wi temi

(If I see the truth, I will say it, you can’t shut me up
Let me say mine, you can’t close my mouth
Truth is bitter, you can’t shut me up
You can imprison me, but you can’t close my mouth
The truth is bitter, the world hates it
Like it or not, I will say mine)

– “Je’nwi temi”

— Fela Kuti