Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : August 1st 2013 Contents A31
Thursday, August 1, 2013 www.guardian.co.tt Guardian
of the Persistent
during the PNM
Balisier House in
"Am I not a man and a brother?"
Few of us will remember where
this phrase comes from, but we will
celebrate the passing of the Eman-
cipation Act. Emancipation from
slavery---a system that said black
people, transported from Africa,
were not equal, not fully developed
as humans, and therefore could be
whipped, sold, raped and killed.
One of the questions posed to
those supporting slavery was this:
are all men not equal? And, do they
not have rights? Were they not our
Today, we know that we are all
brothers. We have different racial
heritages, but we know that differ-
ence does not justify being beaten
We even accept, without think-
ing, that we all have rights as citi-
zens. No longer can we be denied
justice or opportunity because of
our race. A law was changed, in the
face of great opposition, to grant
freedom to all Caribbean people
burdened by slavery.
On August 1 we will celebrate the
changing of that law and freedom
from arbitrary arrest, loss of prop-
erty, beating and killing.
But, on August 2, we will go back
to a system that remains silent
when someone is beaten and killed
because they are different: because
they have a different sexuality. Or
sexual behaviour. Or they dress dif-
Why do hate and violence be-
cause someone is gay or lesbian be-
come acceptable in an emancipated
Caribbean? And, why is there si-
lence when beatings and killings
occur? Are we really emancipated?
It is not ok to kill someone be-
cause you don't agree with their
choice of partner, or their sexuality.
Just as it was not ok to enslave,
beat or kill another human being in
the pre-Emancipation era.
Events in the region over the
past week emphasise that prejudice
can quickly escalate to the loss of
life. Two weeks ago two men were
killed in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. Three
days later a teenager in St James,
Jamaica was beaten, stabbed and
shot to death by some patrons at a
party. They were killed because of
their perceived sexuality, their way
of dress. But they were someone's
child, cousin, friend, neighbour. They
were our brothers.
We differ by race, colour, gender,
class. All Caribbean societies know
how those distinctions have been
used to divide families and people.
We have struggled to counter those
hatreds. Why then, in 2013, is vio-
lence against gay people still ac-
ceptable? Are they not our
These acts were extreme, but
not isolated. They are an expression
of a wider climate of anger. They
point to a willingness to judge.
The challenge before us is to con-
sistently treat others with respect,
regardless of difference.
Governments and the police
must send a clear message that vi-
olence against our gay brothers will
not be tolerated.
That is the Emancipation mes-
sage that must be heard in 2013:
that our leaders, our governments,
are not scared to free us from laws
that make us unequal.
EMANCIPATION FOR ALL -
poorly staffed, funded
I was shocked to read reports of the
theft of Cazabon paintings from the Na-
tional Museum. I am relieved that they
have been recovered. On the other
hand, can we be sure that they are the
This event raises many questions
about the funding and running of the
museum. Researching for my novel,
Light Falling on Bamboo, on the life and
times of Michel Jean Cazabon, in
2006---2009 at the UTT, I had to view
the Cazabon and Margaret Mann (stu-
dent of Cazabon's) collections at the
The room in which the Cazabon
paintings were housed was inade-
quately lit, with water leaking from the
ceiling and running down the walls.
There was little documentation on the
collection, no catalogue or inventory.
There was no security in the room and
no supervision for such an important
and valuable collection.
Research facilities were poor, with
long delays in getting a response to re-
quests to research; particularly in re-
gard to the Mann Collection, which still
not has not been hung permanently.
Eventually allowed to view the Mann
Collection, I got the impression that
training for curator and their attendant
staff is meagre. The National Museum
seemed inadequately funded and
staffed to provide the professional care
that is needed.
Recently contributing to a celebration
for the bicentenary of Cazabon's birth
at Belmont House in Kent, which owns
the most significant Cazabon collection
in the world, Mr Geoffrey Maclean, Caz-
abon expert, gave the feature address,
and expressed a hope that one day The
Harris Collection might be exhibited in
It is a sad coincidence that this theft,
the delayed report, and the further de-
layed inquiry into the theft, should hap-
pen in this bi-centenary year just when
such a hope to have The Harris Collec-
tion in Trinidad has been expressed and
might well be planned. Any serious cu-
rator should be more than apprehensive
about loaning a collection to the Na-
tional Museum of T&T until the appro-
priate facilities are in place. This is a
wake-up call for the authorities to prop-
erly fund and staff the National Mu-
seum. This is a wake-up call for
transparency, as we listen to those who
have been working tirelessly to pre-
serve our past.
How will T&T celebrate the bi-cente-
nary of Michel Jean Cazabon's birth on
Rats running rampant
in parts of Tobago
Are we in Tobago awaiting an out-
break of the deadly leptospirosis or
other rat-borne disease?
Surely the Chief Secretary, and other
members of the THA, including the
Public Health Officers must be aware of
the increasing number of rats visibly
present in many of our communities in
It has been a conversational topic
among my friends during the past six or
more months. Reports have been made
to the Public Health Division, but appar-
ently no action has been taken other
than the removal of the community
garbage bins along the Plymouth Road.
These bins were too small to serve the
respective communities and were not
regularly maintained and emptied.
From Bacolet to Scarborough, to Sig-
nal Hill, to Mt Pleasant, to Buccoo, Mt
Irvine, Grafton and Plymouth, rats are
to be seen both during the day and es-
pecially at nights when they become
even more active.
It is quite possible that the Chief Sec-
retary and the other Secretaries of the
THA cannot see outside of their heav-
ily-tinted vehicles. Immediate action is
required to significantly reduce the ro-
dent population and to prevent the out-
break of any disease.
It's Your Write
Dr Ernest Massiah
UNAids Caribbean Regional
Support Team Director
Dr Ernest Massiah
More doctors needed at
Caanan Health Centre
I would like to bring attention a very disturbing
incident that occurred at the Caanan Health Centre,
I visited the health centre on July 26 at around
6.49 pm with my sister who was having an asthma
I was told by the nurse that they were not ac-
cepting any more patients because for three
months now only one doctor was on duty on
evening shift and they couldn't do anything about it.
I explained that my sister needed urgent atten-
tion but was still turned away. I am disgusted by
the health care system.
I can't, for the life of me, understand why the To-
bago Regional Health Authority is hiring cleaners
and customer service reps daily but does not see
the need to have at least three doctors at Canaan
Health Centre in the evenings.
There were at least 22 people sitting waiting to
see the one doctor before 8 pm. Please do some-
thing about this situation.
Tax paying citizen,
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