Trinidad & Tobago was encountered by Europeans ,when Cristobal Colon landed at Moruga and “claimed ” this land on behalf of the King and Queen of Spain. Since that time the “manifest destiny” of this land changed.The peaceful quiet harmonising mode and spirit of the land was uprooted and a selfish,competitive , greedy spirit replaced the earlier spirit.This encounter resulted in the forceful transfer of Africans from their home continent to the plantations of these stolen lands misnamed : “The West Indies ”
Bitter and cruel was the experience of the plantation. Africans who were artisans ,tradesmen,priests,priesstesses. diviners, men and women of good character, were transformed to property. Their morals and moral standards were shattered. ” Slave Masters ” ,raped enslaved women, African men / males were made into studs, people were whipped into submission and branded with the names of their ” slave owners “. Their concepts of deity were denied them . They resisted by all means available to them. Many died. Many were maimed and almost all were traumatized.
As a consequence of their resistance and guerrilla warfare, it became unprofitable to continue slavery and some persons of Caucasian origin took up the matter of the non viability of the plantation and plantation economy . These arguments coupled with some religious and moral arguments persuaded and convinced the Colonial government that there was need to change the nature of work input on the plantation.
Rescue for the Colonizers was found in India through the mechanism called “Indentureship ” Indians ,mainly from the “Untouchable caste ” ,were deceived and entered into contracts with those offering indenture.
These recruited indentured laboures were then brought to the ” WestIndies ” and thrown into the work arena as “scab ” labour where they worked successfully to sustain the production of sugar cane and support and up keep the colonial powers.
In the meantime the ” emancipated ” Africans continued their struggle for the recapture of their humanity and rights in a land they had not negotiated or bargained to come to. Being from a social / political background that allowed choices and participatory democracy. many of the liberated Africans began to engage in a politics of power in their ” new ” and adopted homeland. Many still latched their hopes to ” Mother Africa “.
The srtuggles of some of these Africans resulted in the early Trade Unions and Trade Union Movement. The leaders of these organizations led by example and were not arm chair or ” Ivory Tower ” revolutionaries. They functioned with many disabilities but were able to achieve benfits for all workers whether “Indentured ” or ” Free “.
The post Emancipation period carried the country up to the period of “Flag Independence “. Post Independence resulted in some degree of Nationalism and nationalising of enterprises especially those related to public services, and utilities.
Among the resultant positions arrived at were the shutting down of State subsidized Caroni 1994 Ltd.
Currently , THERE IS A DEMAND BY FORMER SUGAR WORKERS FOR BETTER COMPENSATION for their efforts at the Sugar cane plantations. I commend their efforts to seek their interests. However I ask : WHEN WILL THE DESCENDANTS OF THE ENSLAVED AFRICANS BE COMPENSATED FOR THEIR UNPAID LABOUR AND THE BUILDING OF AN INDUSTRY AND ECONOMY THAT WAS CENTRED AROUND SUGAR CANE PRODUCTION AND THE BY – PRODUCTS OF SUGAR CANE ?
As the current government engages this issue, we wish to caution that any resolve of such issues that seek to better the conditions of one ethnic group in this country without regards to all of the citizens of this land will result in social chaos and disorder.
We take this opportunity to alert all African groups in this country to take note of these current issues.