Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : May 11th 2013 Contents A29
Saturday, May 11, 2013 www.guardian.co.tt Guardian
Victory is certain
Certain as the sun shine in the sky
Victory is certain
All freedom loving people will say so
---Victory is Certain, David Rudder
There is a woman with blue hair sit-
ting next to me. She s probably the
coolest woman I ve met since being
in England this time.
Not just because her hair is blue. I
mean, like a proper ward-off-maljo
shade of blue that is so electrifying.
We re in a sunny room in the Univer-
sity of Sussex, an interesting bunch of
academics and activists talking about
how and where these two worlds can
The blue-haired woman, whose name
is Lucy, speaks about the Occupy Sussex
movement, where students have become
involved in contesting the university s
attempts to privatise services like cam-
She speaks about the protests and the
response of the State and the response
of the police to these mostly white,
middle-class young people flaunting
their privilege in their faces.
She speaks about the challenges of
being both academic and activist. Of
how the violence of being kettled by
police is sometimes no different from
the tyranny of knowledge of academic
institutions. She asks questions that res-
onate with me.
And I m kind of nervous because I
am up next. I still feel like a cockroach
in fowl party when I end up at these
sorts of events. It s the Trini way. You
never really feel like what you re doing
is legitimate until you timidly share your
story and then have people come up
and say that the story of your little
island is an inspiration.
I tell stories. Of Yvonne Ashby and
the women of Chatham whose concern
made the whole country stand up.
I tell the one about how they said we
were outsiders because we were taking
an interest in national development.
I tell the one about the politicians
who walked with us in Chatham and
Vessigny and now are in Cabinet acting
like people don t matter.
I show them pictures of my dearly
missed friend and comrade Norris
Deonarine walking on the beach in
Chatham. And the children of the
Hindu Prachar Kendra in the Marianne
River calling for Hindus to show envi-
ronmental responsibility at Ganga
I tell them the legend of the Pitch
Lake. The one about the chief s daugh-
ter who demands a cloak of humming-
bird feathers. And the priests who say
no. And how she insists. But when she
gets her cloak the anger of the gods
punishes the village by swallowing them
up in a lake of pitch. I tell them that in
this now time we are still confronting
the selfishness of a certain few who are
uninterested in the fact that their
actions are destructive.
I spend the day half in Sussex and
half in Trinidad. Wondering where our
radical academics are. Aside from Wayne
Kublalsingh, who shocked the country
with his extreme actions, I can t think
of any who put themselves on the line
for a cause.
In the land of plenty food, it is easy
to forget an emaciated man once his
hunger strike is over. You breathe a sigh
of relief and return to stuffing your face
in peace without that little voice in the
back of mind asking you: what did you
do today to make your country better?
I tell them that this is my fear for us.
That we are still so self-absorbed that
we can t see the damage we do. Not
just environmental. The lack of social
consciousness that starts in the Parlia-
ment and drips through the universities
and the public sector and the private
I explain that I can t be an academic
because I can t be objective. I can t be
reasonable and unemotional about
Trinidad. I want to remain part of that
lunatic fringe. That shouts and screams
and asks for answers to questions that
nobody wants to hear. I can t distance
myself from the knowledge and I can t
distance myself from my feeling for the
But the place is not just Trinidad. The
place is earth. The place is a little blue
planet, blue like my new friend-in-soli-
darity Lucy s hair.
I hold back tears for Trinidad in Sus-
sex. I tell our stories because they are
universal, even if we don t think they
In the land of people who love to live
in the boxes created for them by other
people paralysed by fear of difference,
where are our academics? When was
the last time a lecturer went and held a
reasoning in a community, a la Walter
Rodney? Sharing knowledge free of
charge. Learning how to synergise com-
munity information with what distor-
tions of us exist in books.
When the people are not the other.
When more than a handful of lecturers
and social commentators and intellectu-
als are willing to be on the frontline.
Where are they when we need them
to be there for us, quantifying the
struggle and feeling moved enough by
the things they find that they lead their
students into battle?
Now more than ever we need we need
academics who are not afraid to speak
Freedom to get my
It is a well-known fact that the Freedom of Infor-
mation Act allows one to be privy to certain kinds of
information or permits one authorised by another
party to receive such information on another's behalf.
However, at the Auditor General's Department, infor-
mation relevant to would-be retirees' pension and
gratuity benefits are being withheld from them, the
Freedom of Information Act notwithstanding.
While one understands that a certain amount of
confidentiality must surround matters of a personal
and private nature, it borders on the ridiculous when
the affected person is not allowed access to his/her
own information. It is unfair when one person, a
minor functionary in the department, can deny re-
lease of information to the prospective recipient of
their superannuation benefits simply because that
person is in a position to do so.
One's pension and gratuity is a right of the retiring
individual and advance knowledge concerning it
places that person in a better position to plan more
astutely regarding one's financial future especially at
this critical juncture in one's life.
The people who are affected consider it an abroga-
tion of our rights when anyone can arbitrarily deny
the duly entitled person or his/her designated as-
signee the right of access to such information. It is
particularly disheartening in as much as such a prac-
tice never existed before this individual assumed the
office she now holds.
Be advised that we are not advocating unfettered
access to all and sundry but certainly the would-be
recipient ought to be provided with such information.
We are hoping, therefore, that by making our concern
public, the situation can be arrested and some sem-
blance of balance and fairness be restored to what
has fast become an untenable situation.
Run-around for bus pass
I went to the social services office in Sangre
Grande to collect a bus pass. I told the officer at the
desk I had come to collect the bus pass. Imagine!
Without even asking my name or asking for my ID
card, he promptly commented that, "it not ready, yuh
just applying for it." Imagine my consternation. I was
told to collect it in March; I applied for the bus pass in
January. What kind of efficiency is that? Why doesn't
some office go around and check up on these people
to make sure that their work is prompt? No wonder
they give people the run around with come back,
It's Your Write
IN A BLUE TIME
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