“Trinidad and Tobago,” I patiently repeated for the second time.
“What?” She frustratingly retorted.
Felicity is a village located in the Caroni Swamp which borders the Gulf of Paria in Central Trinidad. It is hemmed in on the north by the Cunupia River and runs along Cacandee Road south, for almost one mile. At the northern start on the bank of Cunupia River is the well-known cremation facility, the Yankaran Cremation site. Originally established to provide cremation facilities for the hindu community, we are pleased to note that citizens of different faiths also use open cremation to dispose the bodies of their deceased relatives.
Felicity itself has a population of roughly 20,000 inhabitants and to provide to the educational needs of the children of Felicity, there are two primary schools. They are both owned by the churches—the Felicity Hindu School and the Felicity Presbyterian School. In addition there are half a dozen pre-school centres and as many hindu public temples.
There are two areas of this large village that carry strange sounding names. The northern end, near the cremation site is called “Cassacou.” We have not been able to find a translated version of this name. The southern end has another village called “Janglee Tolla.” These are two hindi words that mean “Jungle Village.” The area is, however highly developed. There are no signs that a jungle existed in this area of Felicity at any time in the past.
Politically, Felicity has had top of the line representation in parliament. Bhadase Sagan Maraj was elected member of parliament in 1956. He was the founder of the Democratic Labour Party and president general of the All Trinidad Sugar Estates and Factory Workers Trade Union. He was succeeded by Dr Rudranath Capildeo, then the leader of the Democratic Labour Party. Bhadase had another stint as MP and was followed by Basdeo Panday who founded the United National Congress.
Today, Felicity is being represented by Austin Jack Warner, a controversial man of action. Within two years Warner has transformed the large complex Felicity into a habitable area of which the villagers are proud. The roads have been elevated and paved and “box drains” have replaced the collapsed drains that served no purpose to the village. Even WASA made hundreds of re-connections before the roads were completed.
In politics, ‘today’s hero could end up as tomorrow’s villain.’ But at this point in time, Jack Warner, Minister of National Security, is a hero to the people, not only of Felicity but also to residents of the entire Chaguanas West constituency. He must be congratulated for providing the same support services to the entire area that is mostly under sea level.
On September 15, Minister Warner launched a Felicity Police Youth Club which roughly 600 youths and their parents attended at the Felicity Hindu School auditorium. This is a new experiment in an area that is generally off the national radar when it came to policing. It is not regarded as a crime hot spot.
Attending this historic launch was Jack Warner himself, acting commissioner of Police Mr Stephen Williams, Mr Deodat Dulalchan, Senior Superintendant of police, Central Division, Inspector Bedassie and other senior police officers. The mayor of the Borough of Chaguanas Orlando Nagassar, brought greetings to the assembly and pledged mayoral support.
I was an invited guest and one of the revelations that surprised me was that in Felicity itself there are approximately 25 villagers who are members of the police force. This is a far cry from what obtained in police recruitment 15 years ago. Professor John Laguerre and professor Selwyn Ryan of the Centre of Ethics Studies of the University of Trinidad and Tobago were commissioned by the then Manning administration to produce a study based on “Ethnicity and Employment Practices In Trinidad and Tobago.”
In the police service they found: “All things being equal, and given the fact that Indo-Trinidadian candidates are generally better qualified (academically), it should follow that the numbers of Indo-Trinidadians selected for training should be higher. It seems that they tend to do less well in the interview than do their Afro-Trinidadian counterparts.
“For the past several years, the members of the interviewing panel have all been Afro-Trinidadians. Given the fact that Trinidad is a multi-ethnic society with nationals belonging to two highly divergent mainstream cultures, namely Indo-Trinidadian and Afro-Creole, it is to be expected that cultural factors could account for differentials in interview performance in favour of Afro-Trinidadians.”
Sanatan Dharma Maha Sabha