Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : July 3rd 2014 Contents ican. All the major continents represented.
Can this be utilised as the international "brand"
of the nation? Can you rebrand a nation? Yes,
with the right touch. Look at Hi-Lo, Massy day
New York rebranded itself from ghetto to glam-
our. London went from IRA target practice to
affluent, shiny and futuristic.
The BBC was due to come here in October to
film a documentary but it is now on the back
burner. I hope it wasn t the perceived lawlessness
that put them off. I told the producers that of all
the Caribbean islands this is the most exciting,
cultured, intellectual and diverse. Trinidad would
show people in Britain a different perspective of
the Caribbean than the tourist resorts of Jamaica
and Barbados (two of the islands the BBC is pro-
posing to visit instead.)
"It s really interesting there s an Indian popu-
lation there, I never knew that," one of the pro-
duction team said on the phone from London.
Most Brits don t know that. And do they even
care? A nation of 1.3 million can grow demograph-
ically but it s still small, and size matters. Outside
of Trinidad, much of what happens here is incon-
Is it better, then, to preserve Trinidad as the
best kept secret in the world and stop crying out
for attention? Stop shouting to be heard above
the regional din?
And I don t just mean the sports-desk reporters
at the desks next to mine. We all need to hush
once in a while, Trinis included. Maybe we need
a pacifier and a good sleep. Or is the baby ready
to wake up and be good?
Thursday, July 3, 2014 www.guardian.co.tt Guardian
A few weeks ago the Queen s Park
Savannah was dusty and brown.
The trees in the hills above Cas-
cade were parched firewood. Dust swirled
all around. I called it drought and was
told off. "It s not a drought," they said.
In English summers, after just a few
days without rain, we have hosepipe bans.
Millions of Britons see the inwardly. It
rains 50 per cent of the time in Britain
yet we have no water?
Anyway, Trinidad was dry. Very dry.
"Will it ever be green again?" I asked.
"Yeah boy! Dat nuttin!" came the com-
The rains eventually came and within
days it was green again. Dark, velvety
green like acres of broccoli. Calming and
evocative, even by the standards of Eng-
land s green mountains and pleasant pas-
The Savannah grew back. I searched
around in the chasm of my mind for a
metaphor for growth---the growth of a
nation---but found none.
Perhaps that s because this republic
nation is a newborn on an incubator. We
are still dining on the afterbirth.
By some measures of growth T&T out-
strips larger nations, like Costa Rica in
Group D of the World Cup. But when
Rhoda Barath compared Trinidad to
Colombia, "We not getting there folks.
We reach", in the aftershock of Dana See-
tahal s murder, it meant regression, not
This country can progress and it does
have history, despite its tender age.
A friend told me: "1955-65 were the
I ask people whether the corruption of
today was around in Eric Williams day.
The answer is usually vague: "It was dif-
ferent back then."
I ask people if Rowley will stamp out
corruption. They are dubious. I argue that
if he wants a place in political history his
aim should be longevity, not short-term
gain. And longevity requires authenticity
and the goodwill and trust of the people.
"But how could Rowley not tief?" my
friend asked sarcastically when asked
about Rowley s integrity. "These islands
were set up for 300 years to tief. Our
whole history is tiefing. Colonialism is
tiefing. You can t change that in 50 years."
Alas, that lush broccoli view I see from
my bedroom window each morning and
night---the hummingbird sucking nectar
from the hibiscus, the kiskadees on the
fence, the pawpaw tree, the plot of wildly
overgrown scrubland, the curving road
leading up to the electronic gates of the
big house 200 metres up the hill nestled
in the broccoli, guarded by barking dogs---
all of this I see from behind bars.
I wonder what view they have from
Golden Grove in Arouca. Perhaps the per-
son who ordered Dana Seetahal s killing
looks out through the bars or up at the
ceiling, seeing the dark black of an endless
Soon I must return to England. London
is, indeed, calling.
Is Britain growing, as a nation? London
is growing, like a city state, to the detri-
ment of the rest.
How does a nation grow?
London grows physically. New people
come, ceaselessly. Swelling postcodes keep
cash registers ringing. London s bubble
New people allow industries to grow
and introduce new types of industry. They
add to the city s industriousness, like a
new Rome at the centre of a complex
We should, therefore, encourage immi-
gration if it stimulates growth and doesn t
drain the economy. I believe a country s
future wealth relies on diversity.
Arriving a year ago I thought Trinidad
was diverse with its ethnic blends. But
you re all still Trinis.
How many foreign nationals are here?
Not many. More non-Trinis, adding to
the cosmopolitanism, would be beneficial.
History shows several races brought
together over several centuries on this
island. Indigenous people, African, Euro-
pean, Indian, Chinese and Latin Amer-
Afterbirth of a nation
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Raul Meireles grabs the ball during a training
session of Portugal in Campinas, Brazil. Meireles'
Mohawk has been compared to the one sported
by Robert De Niro in the movie Taxi Driver. His
thick beard and all-over body tattoos add to his
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