am neither Christian nor heathen, but in our tropical islands of
alternating wet and dry seasons, I never fail to marvel at this little
space before Carnival and Easter as a rite of spring, of spiritual and
is, in this sliver of time, something of an anniversary - of all passion
spent, the ‘farewell to the flesh’, giving way to a deep, quiet, a
feeling of smoke spiralling up from a cluster of candles in a dark church,
or the sight of the sloping beam, fine moving gold dust filtering in
skylight through stained glass windows.
fragmented changes in the weather too, are ethereal and mercurial as if
nature herself is trying on dresses to see which ones suits her best -
sudden showers, swift breezes creating petticoats of pink and yellow on
pavements and hills, scattering buds on tops of cars, hot sunshine on wet
grass, white dust, cool nights.
the human spirit with the seasons, gives man a sense of perpetual rhythm,
by which to live, a reminder, too, that our time on earth is a short,
transient, cycle between the eternity of past and present. We are here,
simply for a season.
‘seasons’ may appear interminable, monotonous, even to those from cold
climates, to our colonisers, but we have found a way of communing with
earth and firmament. The pelting rain on galvanised roofs, crash after
crash of thunder, lightning, speaks to us in a language we understand.
us, nature is not a vast lonely space, individually experienced, but
because of our smallness, intricately interconnected with one another. The
wet season brings us huddling, glad to be together, close, while the
elements rage or an occasion for exuberance, as children float paper boats
in drains, as we raise our faces towards the sky to feel the cleansing
thick drops sting our skin, or a time of despair because water overflows,
flooding our fields and streets, soaking through homes, makes it
impossible for us to move about.
Easter, the heat rising off the concrete burns the soles of our feet,
asphalt melts, dry grass crinkles underfoot. Bougainvillaeas bloom,
absorbing the heat, in crimson, yellow, shocking pink. Smoke billows from
hills, over flaming orange red fires. The frantic energy of Carnival gives
way to enervation and regrouping. Now that the dust has settled in the
Savannah, it’s time for shedding useless husk, for stocktaking, planning
do we have before us?
are at a hiatus. In the late 80s and early 90s we put our house in order
economically - our Budget deficits were reduced, our dollar was
successfully floated, our market liberalised, and now it appears that more
of our children will receive secondary school education than ever before.
our political parties should take credit for this because they all
followed a similar economic policy over which there is little
disagreement. Even the campaign promises in the last election were
virtually the same care for our elderly, spend more on educating our
is why we fall back on the dangerous race card, because there is nothing
else to differentiate the parties and explain why we are stuck with
politics of personality. This man is better than the other. We will get
past that. Whatever it takes, another election, another six months of
are fortunate God became a Trinidadian after 1970 and our natural
resources keep our heads above water, prevents us from succumbing to
social unrest, racial warring that invariably follows an economic
politicians are politicking, our technocrats continue to negotiate on our
behalf. Our artists create a vent for sorrow and madness, bring people
together and make them feel good about themselves. Our business community
vigilantly monitors the somewhat tremulous international scene, and look
for ways to rise above it. Our religious leaders continue to jostle for
space, or install this ritual or that value into their tribe.
we need now, is a collective vision. Where do we want to be in five years?
we were in trouble, and we had a goal to get out of this rut or that, we
did well. We work only under pressure. As soon as the pressure is off, we
stop pushing ourselves, relax, and relaxing in this context is dangerous.
Because whether we admit to ourselves, if we don’t have a plan, we’re
our young people use knives like pens, our poor are getting poorer, our
health sector is crumbling. Economically, the tremors of the world
recession, and the aftermath of September 11, 2001 has hit us already this
Carnival. Politically, the 18/18 situation has the potentially of getting
ugly, especially if we come under some economic pressure.
our New World islands we have transplanted our various identities,
rootless, from old continents, including that of our colonisers, into a
national one. When we encountered the unknown, we improvised, in the face
of loss we remained resilient. We may have lost the languages, literature
and history of our origins, but our human spirit and dignity remained
leaders must, before the poui flowers melt like mush under the showers
informing us that the season is changing again, fearlessly face the
advancing monsters of poverty and unrest, harness our peoples’
strengths, and in this season of new life, allow us to be all we can be.
The alternative is too terrible to contemplate.