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WHO HAS FAILED, DAAGA?
Chief Servant Makandal Daaga claimed in a speech in honour of Emancipation that “Afro-Trinis in trouble” because the young people don’t know anything about 1970. Is the Chief Servant for real? Are all young people lost? Are all Afro-Trinis lost? If anyone has failed it is the Chief Servant. How has Daaga failed? First, the National Joint Action Committee (NJAC) has lost its way and become part of the People’s Partnership. Rather than develop meaningful community programmes that engage the youth, Daaga has abandoned them for an ambassadorship. The reason why the young people don’t know anything about 1970 is because they were not taught. NJAC has abandoned its mission to create a new man and woman and promote people’s democracy to join rightwing politicians who never supported NJAC or the 1970 Black Power revolution. Second, NJAC has a great deal of material on all kinds of issues that it wrote in the past. Rather than digitise these materials and create a Web site to disseminate information about 1970, he chooses to chastise the young people.
For example, NJAC has published a booklet on privatisation that attacked the NAR’s policy on the selling of state enterprises. Today, Daaga supports a government that pursues a policy of privatisation. Moreover, NJAC also published a booklet on the role of the IMF’s involvement in T&T’s economy under PNM rule. While Daaga attacks the youths, he supports a government that is promoting IMF policies that are impacting the youth and their parents. Third, what programme has Daaga put in place to help young Afro-Trinis who are “at risk?” For years, he lived in Laventille and has not opened a trade school, a counselling centre or any meaningful activity that can give meaning to the lives of these young men. Why did Daaga not work with Despers to create programmes for the youth? Why did Daaga not take control of the Basilon Street Trade Centre to upgrade the skills of the youth? Fourth, Daaga and NJAC used many young men and women for their own personal gains. These young people devoted their time to the organisation only to leave in frustration and dejection. They came into NJAC energised and committed to help transform the society but Daaga and his clique turned the organisation into a cultural organisation.
Kamau Chow-Tai, who is now flourishing in Brooklyn, New York, is an example of a young person who left his personal career undone and devoted his youth to engage. He left the organisation frustrated because Daaga and his clique never saw his creative talents. Today, Kamau is making a great contribution to the Brooklyn community by educating a number of young people at Medgar Evers College, City University of New York. Chief Servant, before you open your mouth next time to chastise and “beat up on” the young people, check yourself and be honest. The young Afro-Trinis are not the ones who have failed. It is you. Their mothers, fathers, uncles, aunts marched in the streets for change but you abandoned them. Some died in the hills for change and you abandoned them. Others were jailed and you abandoned them. Still others were blacklisted and unable to find jobs and you abandoned them. Moreover, others were terrorised by the Flying Squad on a daily basis and you abandoned them. Moreover, some became drug addicts and vagrants and you abandoned them. Now, tell me, who has failed whom?
Dr Godfrey Vincent
Assistant professor, Tuskegee
University Department of History
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