Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : August 11th 2013 Contents A10
Sunday Guardian www.guardian.co.tt August 11, 2013
More than four decades after his
death, landslides are destroying
the final resting place of T&T s leg-
endary Orisha King Samuel
Ebenezer Elliot, popularly known
as Papa Niza, at the Mount Pleasant
London Baptist cemetery in Moru-
ga.It is one of 255 landslips currently
affecting the district which is known
as the "landslip capital" of the coun-
try.Ironically, the cemetery is in the
constituency of Clifton De Coteau,
Minister of National Diversity and
Social Integration. It was under De
Coteau s directive that the National
Trust of T&T declared Papa Niza s
grave a national monument.
When the Sunday Guardian vis-
ited the cemetery on Saturday,
asphalt and mud from the caved-
in road were piled on top of tomb-
stones. The nearby Mount Pleasant
Spiritual Baptist Church where Papa
Niza worshipped is also in danger
of collapse. A new structure is being
constructed but parishioners say a
wall has to be built to prevent further
Resident Thelma Ayres described
the situation as a national disgrace:
"I don t know what De Coteau is
doing. All of the cemetery is going
down. The dead cannot rest in
peace. People cannot bury their dead
in this cemetery anymore. They have
hill, but there is no space there."
Ayres said when Jack Warner was
minister of works, attempts were
made to fix the landslips but since
his departure nothing has been done.
David Richardson, who lives
opposite the cemetery, said his house
is in danger of collapse.
"My whole fence is falling down.
We made reports about this but the
Government is not doing anything
about it. I went to De Coteau s con-
stituency several times. Water is
constantly flowing and that is what
is causing the land to cave away,"
he said, adding that three more
houses were cracking because of the
Further along the Moruga Main
Road, there is another landslip close
to the Fifth Company Baptist School.
"They are not doing enough in
Moruga. It is as if we don t exist.
The minister does not care about
us. He neglects Indian Walk, but he
takes care of those in Moruga," Mar-
cus Alleyne said.
At Looney Trace, Marlon Ransom
complained that five houses were
in danger of collapse. He said his
brother s house has started leaning.
"The entire road is cut off by a
landslip but nobody is taking us on.
De Coteau was supposed to repre-
sent us but we do not know what
he is doing. They are taking too long
to fix the landslip."
However, other residents said De
Coteau built two schools, fixed
dozens of agricultural access roads,
installed lights at recreation grounds
and fixed main roads.
Bal Dookie said, "De Coteau has
challenges because of the number
of landslips. All cannot be fixed at
the same time.
"He is always there for his con-
stituents. He is trying to fix sporting
facilities but there are little hiccups
here and there."
De Coteau responds
Contacted on his cellphone, De
Coteau said never before were so
many landslips being repaired in
Moruga at the same time.
"I have stopped worrying about
the landslips. There are just too
many landslips to fix and we are
trying our best."
He said the landslip at the ceme-
tery was problematic because it was
difficult not to disturb the graves:
"To fix that landslip by the cemetery
would take a large chunk of the
De Coteau said last year a con-
tractor submitted a proposal saying
he had the technology to repair the
landslip without upsetting the
"That proposal was given to the
Ministry of Works but I don t know
what they do with it. I never heard
anything else after that," De Coteau
According to the minister, there
are 94 landslips along the Moruga
Main Road and most of them are
located on a ridge, making then dif-
ficult to contain.
"Nevertheless, it is the first time
we had so many landslips being
addressed at the same time. There
are some critical ones we have to
do, including the cemetery landslip.
We have another at Dougla Corner
at Fifth Company,."
Responding to complaints that he
is not servicing his community, De
Coteau said: "I see an average of
150 people every Tuesday in my
constituency office. I hold cottage
meetings in villages and I have a
well trained complement of staff
who assist me with constituency
He said he has financed every
sports day and community activity
in his constituency.
"Out of 478 landslips in the coun-
try, 255 are located in Moruga alone.
I have the largest constituency and
I am trying my best."
He said under his watch, the New
Grant Government School was
rebuilt after it broke down 25 years
ago. He said Glod Road was like a
track and is now paved and he has
arranged corporate sponsors to help
with the road and landslip repairs.
Landslips are collapsing
Director of the Programme for
Upgrading Road Efficiency (Pure)
Hayden Phillips said several landslips
at Cachipe, Rock River, Basse Terre,
St Mary s and La Lune were repaired
but because of the problematic soil
conditions, a few collapsed.
Phillips said the ministry would
have to explore innovative solutions
to rid the area of landslips.
"Most of the landslides in these
areas are due to the soil type which
is very expansive clay."
Phillips said improper home con-
struction, poor drainage and lack of
proper maintenance were contribut-
ing to the problem.
National monument on verge of collapse...
Landslips disturb Papa Niza's grave
According to local historian
Louis B Homer, Papa Niza was
born at Third Company Village on
December 12, 1901. He was a
herbal doctor and preacher, who
was also called an obeahman.
Through his involvement in the
community, Papa Niza became
known as the Orisha King of T&T.
He became a leader of the
Merikens community which
comprised of former slaves who
fought with the British against
the United States in the War of
During his early years, he was
a member of the Spiritual
Baptist Church. However, he
became involved in the Orisha
movement after he was told in a
dream that he had healing
powers and was able to cast out
demons. It is said that he
received the powers while
sleeping in his garden, when a
snake passed over him without
causing any harm. He interpreted
the event as spiritual powers
bestowed on him and soon
became the undisputed leader of
the affairs of the Orishas in
Land slippage at the Moruga cemetery. PHOTOS: RISHI RAGOONATH
WHO IS PA NIZA?
Flimsy bamboo rods tied together are all that motorists have to warn them
of the caved-in road at Moruga.
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