Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : June 8th 2013 Contents A29
Saturday, June 8, 2013 www.guardian.co.tt Guardian
Ah went away
Ah leave and ah forward home
Ah forward to stay
Ah must see mih way
---Forward Home, Andre Tanker
You know that move? The one
when the pressure from the
drumming gets to be too
much. When you feeling like your
spirit might separate from your
body. You ketch the power of the
rhythm and it s like your spine can
no longer keep your body upright.
You are water and fire and mov-
ing air. You are one in a crowd
heaving like jouvay morning when
you on that Savannah stage and
the sun coming up over your
Your knees buckle and you dip.
Your arms end up on top your
head---you can feel all your chakras
open and the kundalini rising like
smoke from some sacred fire burn-
ing inside you. Your feet do steps
you never knew you knew.
Your bottom is a republic.
I am outside the palace of the
Asantehene in Kumasi dancing
with a couple hundred other people
I have never seen before. It is the
day before the funeral of someone I
do not know. I was passing by and
heard the music and the combina-
tion of a riddim section and sweet
brass was too much to resist.
It s a telling moment in this my
first visit to Africa. I submit to a
bigger force that has drawn me
here. I submit to what Africa has
done to consolidate itself not just
in a vague way in my imagination
but in the front of my mind.
I ve seen a few different Africas
in the past three weeks.
I ve seen the Africa you see on
television. The one they want us to
believe is the only one that exists.
I ve seen the Africa that made
me want to plead with the gods of
personal hygiene and promise to
never take indoor plumbing for
I ve seen the Africa of my imagi-
nation. The one that looks like
home. That feels like I belong here.
That I blend into and don t feel
like an outsider. And people who
don t question why a little black
girl like me should be interested in
the things that I am interested in.
I have seen more Christian
churches than I can count. And the
fear on the face of the woman who
accompanies me to witness a road-
side ceremony that marks the
death of a powerful traditional
I have seen the kind of wealth
that would make my uptown Lon-
don friends feel like paupers. And
discovered another level of pan-
Africanism that we forgot that out
little T&T that has given the world.
Speak the names George Padmore
and Henry Sylvester Williams and
CLR James and Kwame Ture in
some quarters and the air starts to
vibrate with the memory of the
I have met Ghanaians who want
to know what scenes Trinis really
on. They want to know how come
the T&T Government acted so
shady in signing the gas deal that
eventually went to the Chinese.
They want to know if Trinis don t
want to deal with Africans, if they
really believe the fiction that black
people not good at business.
They want to know if we know
that it is because their past Presi-
dent Gerry Rawlings came to
Trinidad for Emancipation that the
Door of No Return at Cape Coast
castle was reopened and that every
year people come from all over the
diaspora to walk through that door.
Ghanaians pick at their wounds
too. We talk politics into the wee
hours. E-mailgate rubs up against a
court hearing on irregularities in
their recently held general election.
We laugh on the outside at the
colossal stupidity of politicians on
both sides of the Atlantic. But
weep on the inside. At how we are
still confronting the same post-
colonial monsters. We commiserate
with the African Americans who
have only recently discovered what
we have known for 50 years---that
because your leader looks like you
it doesn t mean that he or she has
your best interests at heart.
I wish I could bring a few people
from T&T to meet all the little
black boys and girls I was hanging
out with. The highly educated
ones. The ones who do not feel the
need to apologise for their black-
ness or don t feel like you curse
their mother if you call them
African. Who understand that
being sure of who you are isn t a
threat to anyone else s identity. In
fact, your surety puts you in a bet-
ter position to contribute to for-
When I regain control of my
body and the music is just an
echo, my spirit is dancing still. To
the music of possibility. I wash off
the last remnants of doubt on that
same coast where my ancestors
were taken away in ships. I left
home to come home. And they
welcomed me like I had never left.
When I leave home to go back
home, I hope the welcome will be
What's-her-name read out some-
thing on TV the other night saying
(the way I interpret it) we are big
enough to invent our own rules of
protocol. I don't think so. The lady
should re-read what Reggie Dumas
wrote and see if she can learn some-
Everybody should get one thing
straight one time: the President of
the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago
is nobody's plaything.
We have to consider His Excel-
lency should not find himself in any
receiving line at Piarco in the first
place, let alone be walking behind Is-
rael, Jane and Kokaram meekly
awaiting his turn to pay obeisance
to the President of another country.
Somehow I feel that if Lenore
Dorset (or some person with half
her experience and competence)
had been at President's House (or
wherever His Excellency may be lo-
cated these days) these things
would not have happened.
Somebody said some time ago
that protocol is common sense codi-
fied. Certainly, its rules developed
over centuries to meet and regulate
in the most efficient and most ele-
gant manner the circumstances that
recur in various situations. Those
rules are tried and tested. They are
meant to guide and to save people
from becoming prey to foolish
whims and off-the-cuff fancies.
But, of course, if God is a Trini,
none of this has anything to do with
us. We just make up stuff as we go
May that particular Trini help us!
FROM HOME TO HOME
Making up protocol as we go along
The repairman in this minivan thought it best to drive his vehicle
along the sidewalk on Charlotte Street, Port-of-Spain yesterday.
PHOTO: MARCUS GONZALES
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