BALL GREGORY McGUIRE evaluates the stewardship of outgoing Central Bank Governor Ewart Williams.
HE Monetary Policy Report( MPR), has become the most reliable source of public in‐ formation on the state of the economy.The latest issue (April 2012) MPR, may well have been the swansong presentation by Governor Ewart Williams who is due to retire on July 14. As is usually the case, the Governor’s statement provided all economic agents‐ Government, firms and households, with an ob‐ jective assessment of the state of the economy. It was a welcome intervention, which has filled the void left by the government. However, apart from the acceler‐ ated decline in the energy sector, there was nothing surprising about the results or the Governor’s forecast. If anything, Governor Williams continues to be a bit optimistic in retaining hope for a one per cent growth in GDP in 2012. The message, however, was clear. The economy continues to be in recession, struggling for an impetus for growth. But, at best, options seem limited. The foreign in‐ vestment inflows have dried up, domestic pri‐ vate sector appears to be in wait and see mode and the government continues to have chal‐ lenges with its public sector investment pro‐ gramme. According to Governor Williams, even the minimal growth forecast faces significant
downside risks from the Euro Zone crisis, the tense industrialization climate and the ongoing scourge of crime. To this list, one may add the un‐ stable political climate which appears much more fluid than the politicians would have us believe or can themselves afford to believe. Unfortunately, the Governor seems to be danc‐ ing to a different tune from what was blasting at the government’s May 24th celebrations. As this era comes to a close, it is perhaps an appropri‐ ate time to assess the Governor’s performance more completely and to reflect on the implications of his departure. Ewart Williams assumed the position of Governor of the Central Bank in 2002, succeeding current Finance Minister, Mr. Winston Dookeran. Governor Williams has reigned for 10 years, mak‐ ing him the longest serving Governor since Victor Bruce (1969‐1984). This fact is not just a strange inconsequential coincidence. Rather, it is direct‐ ly correlated with the dynamics in the political arena and tells the depressing tale of the divisive nature of national politics. But that is for anoth‐ er time. Prior to coming to the Central Bank, Mr. Williams worked at the International Monetary Fund for about 25 years. During that time he led several IMF missions and supervised IMF struc‐ tural adjustment programmes in a number of countries including Jamaica, Mexico and Nigeria and other countries in Africa. His experience also included a short stint in T&T during the IMF inter‐ vention of 1998. Mr. Williams completed his career at the IMF, as the Deputy Director of the Western Hemisphere Department in June 2002. An assessment of Mr Williams’s stewardship should be done in context of the mandate of the Central Bank. In Trinidad and Tobago, as elsewhere in the Western World, the Central Bank’s over‐arch‐ ing role GOVERNOR continues on Page 4
T&T Review June 2012
By Sunity Maharaj
BUILDING A COUNTER-AXIS OF POWER
T GOES without saying that constitu‐ tionally speaking, the prime minister does not have to consult with anyone in appointing members of her cabi‐ net. Politically speaking, however, and in the current context of a fracturing part‐ nership, the requirement to consult is an absolute imperative. In announcing her plan to “re‐config‐ ure” her government, Mrs Persad‐Bissessar has called a time‐out from the rising lev‐ els of anxiety within the People's Partnership. What she does next will de‐ termine whether the fracturing intensi‐ fies or whether the PP gets the chance to transform itself into a coalition for gover‐ nance beyond mere electioneering. The unilateral nature of the PM's an‐ nouncement already indicates her incli‐ nations in the matter. But in the chess game of politics, as in everything else, what happens next will always depend on what else happens next. Absolutely nothing is to be taken as a foregone conclusion. The UNC for one, should be cautious in its assumptions about its own con‐ stituency after the Arrival Day protests in Debe. With Basdeo Panday on the outside and the COP calling for talks with theRe‐ route Movement inside, the UNC might discover that its constituency is not as solid in its support for a political leader who, after all, had run against the UNC, and been defeated, as an NAR candidate in the elections of 1991. While the focus is on the MSJ and the COP as points of friction within the PP gov‐ ernment, the UNC might be the party under the greatest internal pressure as it juggles the twin agendas of winning the next elec‐ tion on its own, and settling its political succession, especially given the prime min‐ ister's health. In an effusive moment early in her term, Mrs Persad‐Bissessar had all but anointed Roodal Moonilal. But if a vote were to be called in the House tomorrow, it is any‐ body's guess what name of which com‐ promise candidate will go forward to President's House as the leader of the party which “commands the support of the ma‐ jority of the House.” But because nothing is pre‐ordained, these two weeks that the prime minister has given herself for re‐configuring the government, have the potential to become one last opportunity for the People's Partnership to rescue itself from the con‐ sequences of its lack of preparation for government. At the PP's anniversary celebration in Chaguanas on May 24, the dessert dis‐ traction served up by Sugar Aloes may have tantalized the buds but it was the
People’s Partnership supporters during their second anniversary celebrations on May 24 at Mid Centre Mall car park, Chaguanas. —Photo: DEXTER PHILIP
partners of the Partnership, these two parties could build a bridge be‐ tween the movement and the gov‐ ernment that would give validity and purpose to their presence in gov‐ ernment. In declaring to the anniversary rally that the PP Government “must engage the highway re‐route move‐ ment in meaningful dialogue in which we speak with them not talk to them”, Prakash Ramadhar was beginning to open up the narrow space between his political responsibility as COP leader and his collective responsi‐ bility as cabinet member. hile Abdulah may be oth‐ erwise tempted, his only rationale for staying in the government now would be to actively promote the in‐ terests represented by the MSJ with‐ in the People’s Partnership Government. In doing so, the MSJ must take the public into its confi‐ dence and explain, in detail, its pro‐ posal, as a member of the govern‐ ment, for meeting Labour’s demands within the context of the adminis‐ tration’s programme. The MSJ has, after all, supported the government’s two national budgets. In treating with Trinidad‐based issues, the TOP’s support is likely to depend on whether the principle in‐ volved is important to its Tobago agenda. Given its focus on the next Tobago House of Assembly election, however, leader Ashworth Jack may be inclined to give the UNC what it needs from him in Trinidad, in ex‐ change for what he needs from the government in Tobago. As for the NJAC, just surviving in the PNM heartland after returning from the starvation of political wilderness, might be the interest worth serving.
COP leader's proposal for reining in the UNC and bringing the government under control of the People's Partnership that would have given the UNC leadership something to chew on. Before a high‐spirited UNC crowd, Prakash Ramadhar called for “firm, clear rules of engagement”, regular leadership meetings” and”meetings of the chair‐ men”and, most important of all, a “Partnership Council made up of three people from each party” with the respon‐ sibility to “resolve contentious issues and make recommendations to the leaders”. This proposal for a Partnership Council of equal weight among the partners,is the first firm public proposal by any leader of the People's Partnership regarding the operational structure of the coalition con‐ struct. It has taken all of two years for the PP's leaders to recognize that while the ideology of “the enemy of my enemy is my friend” might work in building a coalition against the PNM,much more is needed for building a coalition for government. The fact that Ramadhar could brave the UNC masses without incurring the on‐ slaught of heckling served up to its own leader Winston Dookeran in February 2006when he tried to swim against the Panday tide,merely underscores the power that the UNC's partners have, but rarely employ to advantage, opting to squabble over the political crumbs of office than to bargain for real power in an agenda for change.
Finally, it seems, the COP is man‐ aging to negotiate some political space from which to tackle the UNC jug‐ gernaut as it steams its way towards a future without them.To Ramadhar's credit it can be said that he had the courage to brave the UNC den in lay‐ ing down his gauntlet before the po‐ litical masses in preference to some more comfortable but treacherous closeted space. Ramadhar has found, and opened, his own window of opportunity, but what becomes of his challenge will also depend on who does what next. How will his political partners outside of the UNC, respond?Will the MSJ, TOP and NJAC join the COP in
creating a counter axis of power in‐ side the Partnership?Can they, in working together, expand their own room for negotiating with the UNC in promoting a multi‐interest agen‐ da?Do they even believe it is in their interest to do so? And if they did, what specific national interest might each hope to serve? And how will the UNC respond to an internal re‐align‐ ment of power? The COP and MSJ have already found common ground in their con‐ cerns about corruption and the Re‐ route Highway Movement which has shot to the top of the negotiation agenda following its confrontation with the Prime Minister. Working as
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The Governor’s Ball
T&T Review June 2012
GOVERNOR from Page 1
is to pursue such monetary policies that would foster monetary and financial stabili‐ ty, public confidence and economic growth and development of T&T. More specifically, the Governor leads the Central Bank in applying monetary policy aimed at: • Maintaining a low inflation rate • Managing the foreign exchange market to ensure adequate levels of foreign exchange • Protecting the external value of the cur‐ rency • Fostering and promoting stability of the financial system In addition to these specific monetary pol‐ icy objectives, it is helpful to look at the Governors’ accomplishments with respect to institutional development and public edu‐ cation and outreach. Governor Williams’ tenure spanned two Central Bank Governor Ewart Williams contrasting economic periods: a period of The exchange rate and the import cover economic boom (2002‐2008) during which ratio,i.e. the number of months worth of im‐ the economy expanded at an annual average ports we can purchase with current holdings growth of 8.1 per cent. This was followed by of foreign exchange reserves, are both use‐ a period of sharp contraction and stagna‐ ful indicators of performance with respect tion, (2009‐2012), with an average Real GDP to the Governor’s mandate to “protect the ex‐ growth of ‐ 1.7 per cent. (Chart 1). Each pe‐ ternal value of the currency”. Over the peri‐ riod required very different policy positions od 2002 to 2011, the exchange rate drifted as the dynamics of the macro economy upwards up by 2% from TT$ 6.28 to 1 US changed. to $ TT 6.40 (chart 3). At the same time , The first objective proved the most diffi‐ however, our gross official reserves have in‐ cult to achieve, particularly during the boom creased from just 4 months’ import cover to period. The challenge of monetary policy was 13.5 months(chart 4). The data however does to manage the delicate bal‐ not tell the full story of the ance between rapid eco‐ ‘There were some management of the currency nomic growth and inflation. value. The Governor adopted a important legislative Firstly, the strong foreign tight monetary policy stance and institutional exchange performance is aimed at mopping up excess rooted in the rapid expan‐ liquidity in the banking sys‐ developments during sion of the energy sector as tem. Policy action included the tenure of Mr. well as a period of high com‐ several increases in the Repo modity prices. Secondly, on rate, increases in the statu‐ Williams. These many occasions during the tory reserve requirements, included the period the Central Bank has and issues of Government had to support the exchange bonds and treasury bills. interdiction of the rate by selling more US dol‐ While the Bank appeared to lars into the market, to quell real time gross be proactive in taking action rumours of a chronic short‐ to stem the inflationary tide, settlements system, age of foreign exchange and the Government pursued a possible devaluation. The the introduction counter intuitive expan‐ Governor’s dilemma was to sionist fiscal policy. of the Banking find the optimal amount of The Manning adminis‐ foreign exchange to sell to tration consistently ignored Ombudsman and the market. While he was the Governor’s warnings the passing of the often criticized for “hoard‐ about the negative conse‐ ing” foreign exchange and quences of double‐digit in‐ Financial Institutions frustrating business expan‐ flation. Repeated calls by Act (2008)...’ sion, the Bank was aware the Central Bank for fiscal that a liberal policy position restraint were given only lip could have lead to rapid de‐ service by the Manning regime. For example, pletion of reserves followed by currency de‐ in the MPR April 2006, the Central Bank preciation as well as capital flight and relat‐ noted: “a major factor underpinning the rising ed consequences. The Governor was resolute inflationary pressures has been the increase in his position that in a small open economy in Government spending and its impact on the like T&T, the Bank has an obligation to pru‐ non-energy fiscal deficit. Similar warnings dently manage the allocation of foreign ex‐ would appear in every MPR in 2007. Yet, change in the interest of macro ‐economic three months before the global financial cri‐ stability. sis, MPR, (April 2008) the Bank again cau‐ The Governor has also publicly champi‐ tioned that”…the available data suggests that oned the need for greater national savings, budgetary operations continue to have a in particular savings to the Heritage and strong procyclical stance contributing to do‐ Stabilization Fund. Speaking at a seminar on mestic inflationary pressures”. Sovereign Funds in 2006, Governor Williams In short, monetary and fiscal policy were projected that the HSF Assets could increase in conflict as the former Government relent‐ to US$25‐30 billion by 2020 based on fiscal less pursued its expansionist programme in adjustment to a sustainable non‐energy keeping with its Vision 2020 goals. As a re‐ deficit. Fiscal sustainability studies showed sult,inflation climbed from 3.2 per cent in that the non‐energy fiscal deficit should not 2002 to peak at 12.8 per cent in 2008. (Chart exceed 10% of non‐energy GDP. However, 2)The inflation threat moderated consider‐ the Governor’s pleas seem to have fallen on ably after 2008 as Government capital spend‐ deaf ears. Between 2006 and 2011, the non‐ ing fell away and the push from internation‐ energy fiscal deficit averaged 16.5 per cent al food and commodity prices weakened. with a peak of 19.9 per cent in the most recent
year. There were some important legislative and institutional developments during the tenure of Mr. Williams. These included the in‐ terdiction of the real time gross settlements system, the introduction of the Banking Ombudsman and the passing of the Financial Institutions Act (2008) which formalized the
consolidation of supervision of all financial institutions under the Central Bank. This would allow for closer monitoring control and corrective action when necessary. For many, the latter was a case of too little too late History will record that Governor Williams presided over the collapse of the
T&T Review June 2012
‘Ewart Williams has made a sterling contribution to Trinidad and Tobago. He has strengthened the Bank as an institution, maintained the value of the currency, was relentless in the fight against inflation and, notwithstanding the challenges of Clico, has maintained stability in the financial system’ region’s largest single financial institution. This stands out as the major blot on his book. The debate contin‐ ues on whether this was a legislative or a regulatory failure. While the Governor argues that the Bank’s lim‐ ited powers at the time prohibited its intervention into the insurance company business, others claim that he has failed in his duty to promote stability in the finan‐ cial system. The shocking revelations at the Commission of Enquiry into Clico and the Hindu Credit Union has served to intensify the pain of loss among policy hold‐ ers and depositors, from whom the Governor will find no forgiveness. So as the date of Williams departure draws closer, the inevitable question arises. Who we go put”? Or more appropriately in this case, citizens will wait to see “ who they go put”. A look at other jurisdictions can provide an indica‐ tion of what is best practice with respect appointments to the position of Governor of the Central Bank. In the USA, the Governors of the Federal Reserve System are nominated by the President and confirmed by the Senate, for a period of 14 years. The Governor and Deputy Governor are then selected by the President from among those appointed by the Senate. Notwithstanding these powers of the President, Allan Greenspan served as Governor of the Federal Reserve for 18 years under four Presidents. The current Governor Ben Bernanke was appointed by President Bush and re‐appointed by President Obama in 2008. In the UK, it is the convention that the Governor of the Bank of England comes from an internal candidate. The present Governor Sir Mervyn King was a ca‐ reer central banker, appointed by Tony Blair’s Labour Party in 2003. King has now served three Prime Ministers and two political parties. His successor in the post is already being groomed for the position. We should note as well that the Board of Governors of the
Federal Reserve system has seven (7) members and the board of the Bank of England has nine (9) mem‐ bers. In Trinidad and Tobago, there are now 18 direc‐ tors on the Board of the Central Bank. What is abun‐ dantly clear is that in both the USA and the UK, the laws and conventions aim at ensuring independence, stability and consistency at the helm of the Central Bank as a buffer against the hurly‐burly world of politics. To his credit, Governor Williams has followed the British tradition with respect to succession. Over the last ten years he has groomed, not one but perhaps three, ready and capable in‐house candidates for the position. Deputy Governors Dr. Shelton Nichols and Ms. Joan John as well as Chief Economist Dr. Alvin Hilaire, all have the breadth and depth of academic training and banking experience to allow for a smooth pass‐ ing of the Governor’s ball. There is another reason in favour of a strong internal successor. While monetary and fiscal policy should be complementary, there is need to retain the relative independence of the Central Bank. As a former Governor himself, Mr Dookeran must avoid the temptation to become involved in monetary policy matters . This is likely to be the case if he fol‐ lows the pattern of recent years and goes for an exter‐ nal candidate who is perceived to be a party loyalist. Ewart Williams has made a sterling contribution to Trinidad and Tobago. He has strengthened the Bank as an institution, maintained the value of the currency, was relentless in the fight against inflation and, notwith‐ standing the challenges of Clico, has maintained sta‐ bility in the financial system. On this basis, I think Williams has earned a more than a passing grade for his stewardship. Moreover, he has maintained the inde‐ pendence of the Central Bank across two administra‐ tions. Citizens will expect no less from his successor.
By Kevin Baldeosingh
ONGER school hours. A new date for the Secondary Assessment Examination (SEA). More examinable subjects on the primary school curriculum, in‐ cluding Morals and Values. Fewer extra‐curricular activities. Continuous assessment in primary schools. These are just some of the policy changes which Education Minister Tim Gopeesingh has trotted out, seeming‐ ly willy‐nilly, since he was handed that portfolio. If there’s any comprehensive plan behind these various announce‐ ments, neither Dr Gopeesingh nor the Education Ministry has seen fit to in‐ form the general public. But at least Gopeesingh, unlike most past Education Ministers, appears to see the need for fundamental changes to the country’s education system. This is not only a necessary goal in itself but, if the so‐ ciety as a whole is to progress, the ed‐ ucation system is probably the single most important institution which can catalyse this transformation. This cannot happen, however, in vikey‐vie fashion. Education reflects and reinforces the wider culture, and it can escape from itself only from a starting point rooted in rigorous analy‐ sis. Gopeesingh has made his policy suggestions without explaining their pedagogical rationale, and inevitably angered the Trinidad and Tobago Unified Teachers Association and other stakeholders. This crude approach to education transformation may be usefully con‐ trasted with the initiatives taken in Finland, which within 30 years made its education sector into one of the world’s best. In his 2011 book Finnish Lessons, education administrator Pasi Sahlberg writes: “Finland has a unique educa‐ tional system because it has progressed from mediocrity to being a model con‐ temporary educational system and strong performer over the past three decades...it has been able to create an educational system where students learn well and equitable education has translated into small variations in stu‐ dent performance between schools in different parts of the country at the same time.” This didn’t happen by ac‐ cident, nor without po‐ litical initiative. In the
TABLE 1: Pass rates in selected CSEC subjects
Subject English Language Mathematics Music Theatre Arts Visual Arts Religious Education Physical Education Information Technology
Students getting Grades I and II 35% 25% 13% 26% 11% 42% 65% 76%
Source: Ministry of Education 1960s, Finland’s levels of educational attainment were on par with Peru and Malaysia, and far below its neigh‐ bouring nations Denmark, Norway, and Sweden. Moreover, the improvements in Finland’s system began in the 1970s, when the country was having serious economic problems—indeed, those very problems were a key reason the government decided to make educa‐ tion a priority. At the same time, the groundwork for this transformation had been laid since the 1950s, when Finland established its School Programme Committee, which sub‐ mitted its recommendations in 1959. These recommendations, based on analysis of then‐current international research on pedagogy, were taken to Parliament in 1963, with implemen‐ tation starting in 1972. “The new school system was launched with philosoph‐ ical and educational assumptions that insisted the role of public education must be to educate critical and inde‐ pendent‐thinking citizens,” Sahlberg writes. I suspect Dr Gopeesingh would be hard‐pressed to define the “philo‐ sophical and educational assumptions” behind his various policy changes. But, unless these are made clear, it is not possible to create and implement the technical changes required to achieve educational goals. As Table 1 shows, the majority of students in T&T aren’t even close to what is needed to achieve developed‐nation status. And even this barebones data raises fundamental questions: Why are
students doing so badly in basic sub‐ jects? If we are so creative, as we like to boast, why the low pass rates in music and the arts? And, by contrast, is there a comparative advantage hint in the relatively high pass rates in PE and IT? So consider Sahlberg’s innocuous phrase ‐”equitable education”. This was one of the most hotly debated is‐ sues when Finland started changing its education system, because equity meant that the goal was to ensure that all students attained a high level of ed‐ ucation. Naysayers naturally argued that students had inherently different capacities to learn, and trying to edu‐ cate all of them highly was a utopian ideal which would only drag down the best rather than raise the worst. A par‐ allel local view was heard a decade ago from the former principal of Presentation College San Fernando, Michael Samuel, who on his retirement said, “Twenty percent [of all students] ‐ no matter what people say, that every boy and girl is teachable, that is non‐ sense ‐ they are labourers”. Sahlberg, however, writes: “[This new philosophy for education] included the beliefs that all pupils can learn if they are given proper opportunities and support.” (See Box 1.) In T&T, a parallel policy would re‐ quire the abolition of the SEA as a screening exam with access to all schools determined by zoning. Any such suggestion would, however, be most vehemently opposed by those who
T&T Review June 2012
most vociferously complain about the state of the society—the middle‐ and upper‐classes whose children have privileged access to the prestige schools. Yet even this revolutionary policy would be accepted if citizens were convinced that every school had the same quality standards ‐ and con‐ vinced, not through PR, but by actual reforms. The Finns didn’t set their goals with blind idealism. Curriculum reform took place after empirical studies were done in 300 field schools involving 1,000 teachers. “The national curricu‐ lum provided schools with tools to dif‐ ferentiate instruction for different abil‐ ity groups and personalities,” Sahlberg writes. “Foreign languages and math‐ ematics teaching, for example, were arranged in a way that offered students options for three levels of study: basic, middle, and advanced...required that teachers employ alternative instruc‐ tional methods, design learning envi‐ ronments that enable differentiated learning for different pupils, and per‐ ceive teaching as a high profes‐ sion...Ability grouping was eventually abolished in all school subjects in 1979.”
2010 report published by McKinsey and Company, which examined education systems in 25 countries, list‐ ed the following three factors as crucial for successful reform: (1) high teacher quality for raising student performance; (2) better classroom methods; (3) mechanisms to ensure that every child gets high‐quality instruction. But T&T would have to do its own research, at the very least to find out how to fine‐ tune the data from other societies. The Miracle Ministries High School, for ex‐ ample, has boasted full exam results at CXC, according to its founder Pastor Winston Cuffie, but this is a school which gets the students of low ability. If they are indeed getting such high pass marks, it is quite telling that the Education Ministry has not done an audit to find the school’s and staff’s se‐ cret. In Finland, if any one variable could be identified as the key to pedagogi‐
BOX 1—Key traits of Finnish education system 1. Young people learn well and performance differences among schools are small—and all with reasonable cost and effort. 2. Teaching is a prestigious profession, and many students aspire to be teachers. 3. Teachers have a great deal of professional autonomy and access to purposeful professional development throughout their careers. 4. Teachers usually stay in their profession for life. 5. Almost half of all 16-year-olds, when they leave comprehensive school, have been in some sort of special education where they got personalised help or individual guidance. 6. Teachers teach less and students spend less time studying in and out of school than their peers in other countries. 7. There is no standardised testing, test preparation or private lessons.
Source: Sahlberg, 2011 cal success, it is the teachers. There are five classifications ‐ kindergarten, primary, subject (secondary), special education, and vocational‐ and, since 1979, teachers must have a Masters degree, (save kindergarten and voca‐ tional teachers, who must have at least a Bachelors degree). Finnish teachers are given a high degree of autonomy, including the authority to create their own classroom pedagogy (their Masters degree qualifies them as re‐ searchers). They have fewer classroom hours than teachers in other devel‐ oped countries, in part because that extra time is spent on pedagogy. And, since the Finnish school system has no examinations, teachers are the ones who decide if students have qualified in their subjects. Opinion polls in Finland consistently find teaching to be the most admired profession, ahead of law and medicine. Education reform is a serious pol‐ icy issue, which needs both intellectu‐ al rigor and political maturity. Unfortunately, it seems that the Education Ministry and all other stake‐ holders are lapsing on both counts.
VOICE OF PAN
T&T Review June 2012
By LAURIE ANDALL
HEN Lord Humbugger chipped down Charlotte Street at the helm of Alexander Rag Time Band, dressed to kill in top hat and scissors‐tail coat on Jouvert morning 1939, the all steel percussion group coming all the way from Woodford Street to the irresistible chants of ‘Run yuh run, Kaiser Williams, run yuh run’ was really performing the last rites to Tamboo Bamboo, the staccato rhythm which had served previous generations so well in our earlier street festivals. At this musical eclipse one can well imagine the comments of the market vendors on Charlotte Street and the burgesses of Hell Yard as the pro‐ logue to Pan unfurled before their eyes changing the Carnival landscape, which thereafter was si‐ lenced by the bombs of World War Two, forever. While the curfew imposed by the war forbade street parades, it offered Pan’s pioneers an op‐ portunity to experiment and invent and by the time the Fuehrer’s dream of a master race reced‐ ed into history, the pans of biscuit, paint, carbide and caustic soda had given way to Winston ‘Spree’ Simon’s four note tenor on which he played ‘God Save the King’ for the Governor in celebration of the victory of the allies over Nazi Germany,on Marine Square, Port of Spain. As Pan moves from the periphery challenging for the centre of our social consciousness,a position which it temporarily holds for at least one month each year during the panorama festivities, it has of‐ fered us many proud moments, validating not just our survival as a people emerging from centuries of colonialism but as a people capable of charting new horizons in the advancement of civilization. Pan may yet provide the sound tracks for the ideal state upon which many philosophers have pondered but which like the promised land has eluded every prophet and politician from Moses to Obama. If only our leaders could get it right! The first time piano and pan met in a public concert was at the Victoria Institute in 1948 when Casablanca,which had a few months before won an island‐wide steelband competition featuring pan‐ nists like Patsy Haynes and Art DeCoteau, collab‐ orated with the German musician Professor Walter Katz and Tenor singer Victor Soverall to produce a successful show at the princely sum of twenty five dollars. We look at this encounter as the be‐ ginning of the gradual embrace of Pan as a musi‐ cal invention worthy of acceptance by the con‐ ventional Orchestra. Of course, TASPO’s tour in England was a wa‐ tershed moment in Pan’s history, followed by the appearance of a steelband ensemble led by Belgrave Bonaparte at the Rome Olympics in 1960 and, a few years later,the appearance of the Pan Am North Stars at the US nationally tele‐ vised Ed Sullivan Show. PanAm North Stars holds pride of place in these epic pan moments because it also collabo‐ rated with Jocelyn Pierre and the Marionettes Chorale in concert in 1965 and, in 1968, offered us a musical collaboration with internationally ac‐ claimed pianist Winnifred Atwell at Queen’s Hall resulting in an album which today stands as per‐ haps the most significant musical legacy in the his‐ tory of Pan. Of course the many travels of Hugh Borde and Tripoli Steel Orchestra with internationally‐
renowned pianist Liberace has become the stuff of legend and we are all eager to view the movie of Liberace’s life and the role as co‐star in which we expect the Pan to be featured. The Desperadoes from the hills of Laventille have also etched their way into steelband folklore with their 1966 visit to Dakar, Senegal and their tour of eight US cities where under the musical di‐ rectorship of the inimitable Pat Bishop, they played at Carnegie Music Hall, Brooklyn Academy of Music and The Philadelphia Academy of Music, blazing a trail to establish Pan as a musical brand on the recording landscape of North America. Also the Trinidad All Stars, not to be outdone,after their pop‐ ular Panorama victory in 1980 with Scrunter’s ‘Woman on de Bass’ visited India and China, breaking new
ground on the old trade route of Marco Polo, as cultural ambas‐ sadors of Trinidad and Tobago. This was a tour on which Earl ‘Abdul’ Reid, a Scherzando veteran and then Pan Trinbago P.R.O, served as the representative of the international authority on Pan. Also on this tour was teenager Derrick Nurse who as Warrant Officer Class 1 of the Trinidad and Tobago Defence Force,was musical director of the recent collaboration betweenThe Defence Force Steelband and Patubate of Brazil. This five‐man group from the Land of Samba and Soccer has added its own unique flavor to our steeband by incorporating the music of discarded steel and plastic drums,pots and pans and other discarded car parts, along with electronic music. Watching and listening to the two groups dis‐ cover each other as Officer Nurse blended the music into one during rehearsals for a Steelfestt per‐ formance at Scherzando’s Culture Market, was a unique experience. The organisers and sponsors of SteelfesTT2012 a reality including the SteelfesTT
Planning Committee, the National Gas Company, the Ministry of Arts and Multi‐Culturalism, Pan Trinbago and our dearly departed Pat Bishop,Keeper of the flame, who was honoured for its conceptualization, deserve a bow. SteelfesTT is part of the growth curve that Pan has been seeking to achieve and it should be‐ come part of our bi‐annual‐ if not annual‐ cal‐ endar. It was at Pan Trinbago’s 2011 Convention that Steelfestt 2012 was unveiled to the Pan community by its Chair‐person Maureen Manchouk. It was immediately evident that here was a lady who had come to en‐ rich the narrative of women in pan with a plan not just to highlight our national in‐ strument but to em‐ brace the cul‐
ture of others across the
diaspora,using not the tired sys‐ tem of patronage but a partnership model of business to bring a win‐win model to the portfolio of all share‐
holders. Katzenjammers, a band of over fifty years, with an impeccable steelband pedigree as the first Tobago band to win a national competition (in 1967)and defending Panorama champion (Medium category 2011 and 2012) was chosen to make a musical presentation with Cuba’s Obini Bata, an all female group combining dance, per‐ cussion and song. The high calibre international performance took place at Katzenjammers’ brand new pan theatre, an achievement that has been realized under the leadership of Beverly Ramsey Moore. The theatre has since been incorporated as a Pan Institute, serving as an inspiration to other steelbands,as the full import of SteelfesTT 2012 begins to resonate throughout the wider Pan community . The remarks of the Minister of Planning and
the Economy, Senator Bhoe Tewarie,on the Steelfestt programme brochure and his address at the opening of the inaugural International conference on the Steelpan 2012 were the first comprehensive statement to date from a gov‐ ernment minister of the People’s Partnership on the Steelband industry. Many of us in Pan have been waiting on a clear policy on Pan as our national instrument, given the yoke of multiculturalism which has been hung around Minister Gypsy’s neck.Having grownup post‐independence accepting that Trinidad and Tobago are islands of Steelband and Calypso, we now acknowledge that calypso may well include soca, chutney and even parang, but we hesitate at the thought that Pan, too, may mean something else. Yet,as Dr. Tewarie implored at Steelfestt 2012, we also welcome musicians and instruments from foreign lands to our home, the home of Pan. As a matter of fact it is via the journey of Pan in for‐ eign lands that the instrument has arrived at the place of esteem with which it is held today.Many Pannists earn their living abroad, perhaps more‐ so than in Pan’s own homeland. So it goes without saying that Pan welcomes fusion. It was disheartening to hear that Pan accounts for just 2.8% of the revenues earned by the Creative sector which is a challenge for Pan Trinbago,steelband leaders and the government. This was countered by the good news that the long overdue Pan Headquarters is at last to be constructed but we hope that the deafening si‐ lence of both Pan Trinbago and the National Carnival Commission on the controversial ‘Pan in Schools’ issue has nothing to do with this de‐ velopment. Even the minister had no words of wisdom for us on this topic while our Pan Tutors languish without contracts and it is almost two years since a school has commissioned its quota of Pans, leav‐ ing manufacturers and many tuners in abeyance.In our own school system Pan is slowly being left behind while our leaders twiddle their thumbs at the altar of multiculturalism. While the minister complained of the need for a ‘properly documented history of Pan’ some were left to wonder if his advisors had not in‐ formed him about Kim Johnson’s ‘The illustrat‐ ed Story of Steelband’ or George Goddard’s ‘Forty Years in the Steelband Movement’ or the few post‐ graduate theses lying about, including American Steven Stuempfle’s ‘The Steelband Movement: Formation of A National Art’ , certainly a fusion along the lines of SteelfesTT. There is too much romanticism, the Honourable Minister declared, yet informing us that the industry must think opera and motion pictures among other media arts. Did Hollywood not build its success on romanticizing the west, turning outlaws like Jesse James and Billy the Kid into legends and criminalizing patriots like Sitting Bull and Geronimo? Against this background and with ministeri‐ al advice in tow, our local movie makers have a pantheon of heroes awaiting their intervention. Imagine what our actors could do with tales about Trail, Fisheye, Patch eye, Breakadoor, Gold Teeth, Eddie Boom, Whitey Kincaid, Ghost, Cobo Jack, Boots, Elephant Walk, Fire Kong, Preacher Boysie, Joe, Lolly, Mastifay, John Bull, Bake Nose, Jack Slade and many others.
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SHARDA PATASAR faces off with an Indian pioneer
ASIKA gestured towards the page in her hand. “Seven verses! You mad? You think people here going to stop and listen to all that? Here you does sing two lines to ketch them and buss it.” Rasika Dindial, the ‘Rani’ of Chutney, squinted at the 26yearold girl as if she had lost her mind. “And look at all these cuss words! Nah! I not singing dat,” she declared in a tone of finality, passing the page back to the girl. “Screwed up? I can’t sing ‘screwed’! How you want me to use that word!” The line she was referring to was “My loveless and luckless and screwed up piya (lover) “. Her horror was clearly not feigned. “Ok we’ll change it,” said the girl, Sneha Khanwalkar, with a mischievous smile. One phone call to her lyricist in Bombay and the necessary adjustments were approved, in cluding reducing the number of verses in the song and changing the offending ‘screwed up’ to ‘messed up.’ They resumed recording. Rasika’s power ful and melodious folk voice belted out ‘Electric Piya’. The musical composition, a slight variation of the 1950’s “breakaway’ song Babhana Aawe Jaaye originally rendered by the Surinamese singer Ramdew Chaitoe, had been a popular number among the Indian population in Trinidad at that time. ‘Breakaway’ songs were so called owing to the spicy, danceable nature of the music that caused listeners to, as Trinidadians styled it, ‘break away.’ It meant throwing off all selfcon sciousness to permit oneself to dance and have a good time. The lyrics of breakaway songs ranged from the religious to narratives about daily life, the common feature being the exciting dholak beat. The themes were similar to the popular, commercialised Chutney music that later developed out of this breakaway tradition and even gave birth to the ‘sokah’ or ‘soca’ as all Trinidad and, hopefully, other parts of the world now know it. Some older singers might say that Chutney always existed; what has happened is that somebody gave it a formal name to make it marketable. Electric Piya had been penned for Anurag
T&T Review June 2012
D O O
Kashyap’s film The Gangs of Wasseypur. The film, which runs for a total of six hours, is to be released in two parts. It is set in Dhanbad, a city in the state of Jharkhand. Dhanbad is also known as the ‘Coal Capital of India.’ Based on a true story, the first part, Wasseypur, is set in 1941, the year that marked the beginning of the coal mafia in India. Part II, Gangs of Wasseypur, takes the narrative all the way to 2004. The film tells the story of successive generations of a coal mafia family from pre independence India into the new millenni um. Winner of the 2011 R.D. Burman Filmfare Award for Best Promising Newcomer, Khanwalkar had come to Trinidad in search of the music with which she had become fasci nated since her college days. The fourth fe male music director to pass through the Bollywood film industry, this was her first time out of India. Her travel to Trinidad was rooted in a combination of curiosity and her quest to discover new sounds. Furthermore, The Gangs of Wasseypur was set within the re gion from which many of Trinidad’s East Indian indentured labourers had come, making the island fertile ground for her research. “Anurag had first offered me a film in which he required jazz music,” she explained. “Since I hadn’t studied that, I was hesitant to do it. Then he offered one that was based on Bihari folk and, when I read the script, I decided I wanted to come to Trinidad to do the re search. I knew that many of the Indians who live here now are descendants of the inden tured workers who had come here from the same area in which the film is set. About three months before this I had been playing with the idea of coming to Trinidad because I had taken a liking to chutney so I immediately suggested this after I read the script. He made no fuss and allowed me the freedom to do whatever I wanted to.” “But why Trinidad?” I asked. “You could have gone to some other island like Guyana or Suriname. They have Chutney music there also.” “See? I had found it fascinating that these Indians had come here in the 19th century,” she responded, “and I wanted to see what a hundred years had done. Although so many years had passed, the songs remained with them though they had changed. It’s like hav
ing some ancestor of mine who spoke Jamaican like “Yah, mon” although she was Indian, you know. I found it really intriguing so I just wanted to see. “Also Sonny Mann’s Lotay La was a really big hit with my classmates back at college in India and he was from Trinidad,” she contin ued. “When I heard it, I went looking for more Chutney music on the Internet and that’s how I found out about Trinidad. The one that I liked was Tote He and I made all my friends learn it. I know every word of that song. Now that I’m here I recently learned what it means, but back then, it was just a catchy piece.” She laughed and started singing Tote He but her Indian accent gave the song an even more humorous finish; it definitely didn’t have the Trinidadian ring to it. I rolled my eyes. She laughed. “C’mon, yaar (a word mean ing “friend”), you have to admit, it’s catchy. I think these guys here are doing some inter esting things with this.
“So,” she said, rocking back in her chair, “I want to get some really dirty Chutney music. You think I’ll get someone to sing a really dirty one for me?” she asked. “You just sang Tote He for me, didn’t you? Are you really serious about that question? Will you get someone to sing a dirty one for you?” “Yeah, yeah, I mean, like dirty dirty. Oh! al right,” she said catching on to what I had just said, “Yeah, yeah, okay. Who do you recom mend?” I sighed. “Well you could try any number of them. I’m sure any one of the younger ones would be delighted to sing for you.” She eventually decided on Chutney singers Vedesh Sookhoo (of Dhal Belly fame) and Nigel Salickram, who doubled as a ventrilo quist. Sneha’s work is characterized by her use of folk music in which she reworks the folk aes thetic to create a modern but raw, realistic sound. She rarely opts to work with the
T&T Review June 2012
‘A portion of the sound track promises to be an exciting re-interpretation of music that Trinidadians regard as commonplace, our familiar sounds repackaged and re-presented to us in feelings ranging from the sensual to the aggressive’ well‐known playback singers. Instead, as she did in the case of Dindial, she uses the earthy voices of the folk singers and reworks modern music around them. Her aim is to create a different sound from the one heard in the more commercial popular films being churned out by Bollywood. The work of Kashyap and Dibaker Banerjee do not fit into mainstream Bollywood and Sneha fits perfectly with these direc‐ tors in her movement away from the mainstream. Whatever the setting of the film, Sneha would go into the depths of the regions to search out songs and singers who best represent the feelings she was attempting to create in her music. Her earlier work for the Kashyap film, Oye Lucky Lucky Oye!, led her to the interiors of Punjab where she went looking for a par‐ ticular song which her director had requested. In an interview, director Dibaker Banerjee, de‐ scribed her as someone who could take a backpack, go into any ‘village, God‐forsaken areas, etc and get inside the musical soul of that area and come out with melodies.’ That was precisely what Sneha did in Trinidad. She chose to stay in an area of Barataria, where she was close to the ordinary folk and able to draw from their musical experiences. By her second week in Trinidad, her search for Chutney music had taken her into the soul of Trinidadian music, with sounds ranging from the Indo‐Trinidadian folk voic‐
es of Rasika Dindial, Vedesh Sookhoo and the late Sagar Sookraj, to steelpan and parang. Four tracks that feature the music she has collected from Trinidad have been con‐ textualized in song to suit a rural Indian, Bihari aesthetic. Dindial’s voice is featured in the track ‘Electric Piya’ while ‘Hunter,’ penned by Varun Grover and sung by Vedesh Sookhoo, features another track in which Sneha has added other singers from India, to render the Bhojpuri part of the song. (See it on youtube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y5PEr7 ceqPE&feature=related) A third track, “Moorah Calypso,” record‐ ed by Trinidad’s Robert Persaud, features the cuatro, mandolin and tambourine and has been reworked in India to give the sense of an acoustic feel of the village on an af‐ ternoon. “Bhoos,” (translated as “Hay”), also
recorded by Persaud and reworked in India, aimed at featuring what Sneha describes as “aggressive parang” perhaps a relevant adap‐ tation to the mood of a film that has, as its central focus, a gangster theme set against the grimness and violence surrounding the Dhanbad coalmines. The entire soundtrack of Gangs of Wasseypur will be familiar to Indo‐ Trinidadians attuned to the folk musical sound. The song “Hunter”, featuring lead vo‐ cals of Trinidadian Chutney singer Vedesh Sookhoo can be heard on the youtube Gangs of Wasseypur song list, along with such tracks like “Tain Tain ToTo” that echo the unmis‐ takable sound of Trinidad. In May 2012, the five‐hour film met with favourable reviews at the 65th Cannes Film Festival in France where it had its international screening. The India release is set for June 22. Since the film does not conform to the mainstream Bollywood
Hunter: Chutney singer
fare that is part of the Indo‐Trinidadian’s en‐ tertainment menu, it may not reach the screens of Trinidad and Tobago’s cinemas but we have much to look forward to in it if it is released here. A portion of the sound track promises to be an exciting re‐inter‐ pretation of music that Trinidadians regard as commonplace, our familiar sounds repack‐ aged and re‐presented to us in feelings rang‐ ing from the sensual to the aggressive. Sneha Khanwalkar’s music holds up a mir‐ ror before us T&Tans, enabling us to see the possibilities that we rarely recognize as we seek external validation of our hidden cre‐ ative selves. For the Indo‐Trinidadian, Sneha’s attraction to and use of Chutney music rep‐ resents confirmation of the great creativity of a culturally marooned people who have found the wherewithal to utilize their syn‐ ergies to create an entirely new form.
Labouring in th T&T Review June 2012
The following is an edited excerpt of an address delivered by
Sir ShridathRamphalat the 2012
Dr Eric Williams Memorial Lecture presented by the Central Bank in Port of Spain on Saturday, May 26, 2012. The full text can be viewed at the Bank’s website at: www.central‐bank.org.tt
IFTY years ago, in 1962, I lived among you, here in my West Indian Capital, in Port‐of‐Spain; in Maraval. I was a younger labourer then; and the vineyard was of course ‘federation’. The West Indies’, with a capital T, the Federation for which West Indian leaders had struggled, intellectually and politically, for 40 years ‐ none more so than Trinidadians like Captain Arthur Andrew Cipriani and Uriah ‘Buzz’ Butler ‐ and for which its people had yearned, (the Federation) was about to become Independent on the 31st May 1962 ‐ 50 years ago next Thursday. We should have been celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Independence of the West Indian nation next week. That is how close we came to reaching the ‘holy grail’. Instead, on that same day (31 May 1962), the Federation was dissolved. The immediate cause of the dissolution was, of course, Jamaica’s referendum and Dr Williams’ inventive, and now notorious, arithmetic that “1 from 10 leaves nought”. But these were only the proximate causes. Federation’s failure had many fathers. As Assistant Attorney General of the Federation, I had been drafting the Federal Constitution. My vision, my mis‐ sion, was regional ‐ an independent West Indies. I left Port‐ of‐Spain on 30th August 1992 for Harvard, where I would be reassured by the example of other federal founding fa‐ thers who had overcome their trials ‐ trials much greater and more traumatic than our own ‐ through sustained vision and leadership. I have never lost faith in real Caribbean unity as our regional destiny. Nor, I believe, did Eric Williams. In the last pages of From Columbus to Castro he wrote this: The real case for unity in Commonwealth Caribbean countries rests on the creation of a more unified front in dealing with the outside world ‐ diplomacy, foreign trade, foreign investment and similar matters. Without such a unified front the territories will continue to be playthings of outside Governments and outside investors. To increase the ‘countervailing power’ of the small individual units vis‐ a‐vis the strong outside Governments and outside compa‐ nies requires that they should aim at nothing less than a single centre of decision‐making vis‐a‐vis the outside world. [A SINGLE CENTRE OF DECISION‐MAKING!]. He had earlier written in those same pages: Increasingly, the Commonwealth Caribbean countries such as Trinidad and Tobago will become aware that the goals of greater economic independence and the develop‐ ment of a cultural identity will involve them in even closer ties one with another ‐ at economic and other levels. For the present disgraceful state of fragmentation of the Commonwealth Caribbean countries makes it extremely difficult (although not impossible) for a single country to adopt a more independent and less ‘open’ strategy of de‐ velopment. …… From all this two questions seem to invite answers from us, one speculative; the other more definitive. The first is whether West Indians (all of us) would be better off were we celebrating next week the 50th Anniversary of the Independence of The West Indies? The second, given that we abandoned federation, is whether we have rectified what Eric Williams called (in 1969) our disgraceful state of fragmentation. In this special year, the first question is uniquely ap‐ propriate; the second, I suggest, is imperative. So let us look at the first. Would we have been better off had the Federation not been dissolved? Any answer to this must
make some assumptions; but there are good clues. The first is that the patch‐work Lancaster House Constitution agreed to in 1961 would have been the basis of Independence ‐ i.e. a very weak central government; but with a constitu‐ tional review in 5 years time. But another assumption is more positive. Norman Manley had pledged that if he won the referendum, he would offer himself for election to the Federal Parliament. His actual words were: “As simply as I can, and with a full heart, I must state that when the first elec‐ tion for a new West Indies comes, I shall offer myself as a can‐ didate. In other words, Norman Manley might be the Prime Minister of the independent Federation. The new Federal Government would have minimal, in‐ deed miniscule, powers. The Economics of Nationhood, by which Eric Williams placed such store; but whose strong central government so frightened Jamaica, would be in cold storage. The Government would be essentially a vehicle for mobilising the people of the West Indies to nationhood ‐ and with Manley at the helm inspiring in them and in the in‐ ternational community confidence in the maturity of the new Caribbean state. Five years later, constitutional re‐ view, against the backdrop of those first years of nation‐ building, would give confidence to a process of endowing the Federal Government with more substantive but still limit‐ ed powers. Perhaps, most important of all, would be the gains in the deepening of our West Indian identity and the enlargement of a West Indian patriotism. And they would be years of the West Indian people get‐ ting to know each other as never before. The Federal Palm and The Federal Maple ‐ Canada’s thoughtful gift to the Federation ‐ would carry them where only their West Indian spirit had been before in their inter‐island travels. Independence for all of the islands would be achieved within the framework of the federation, and each of the Island States would be autonomous within their substantial powers. On the international stage, The West Indies, though still small in world terms, would have become a sizable player, not least because of the quality and spread of our human resources. And would Guyana, which had inexcus‐ ably abstained from the federal project, not have been in‐ exorably drawn in? It would, I believe, have become its un‐ avoidable pathway to independence. Today, on the eve of its 50th Anniversary our national Federal State (with Guyana and Suriname in it) would have comprised more than 6 million people; it would have had vast resources of oil, gas, gold, diamonds, bauxite, forestry, uranium, manganese, tourism, and financial services; importantly, it would have had an educated and talented people who have shown by their global accomplishments, and the demand for their ex‐ pertise, that they could compete with any in the world com‐ munity. It would have been a State that commanded our na‐ tional pride ‐ and respect of the international community ‐ while keeping alive our several island cultures and values. Against what might have been, we have to place what has been. Independence on an Island basis (and I regard Belize and Guyana as islands for this purpose) with our one West Indies formally fragmented into 13 separate states, with as many flags and anthems and seats in the United Nations. But, most of all, Independence in the context of very small communities without the checks and balances that larger size brings. In his frank Epilogue to Sir John Mordecai’s invalu‐ able record, The West Indies: The Federal Negotiations, Sir Arthur Lewis, after asserting that (t)he case for a West Indian federation is as a strong as ever, concluded his rea‐ soning with the following: Lastly, Federation is needed to preserve political freedom. A small island falls easily under the domination of a boss, who crudely or subtly intimidates the police, the newspapers, the magistrates and private employers. The road is thus open to persecution and corruption. If the Island is part of a federation the aggrieved citizen can appeal to influences outside: to Federal Courts, to the Federal police, to the Federal auditors, the Federal Civil service Commission, the newspapers of other islands, and so on. If the Government creates disorder, or is menaced by violence beyond its con‐ trol, the Federal Government will step in to uphold the law.
These protections do not exist when the small island is in‐ dependent on its own. So far West Indian governments have a fine tradition for respecting law and order, but in these turbulent days traditions are easily set aside. The West Indies needs a federation as the ultimate guardian of political freedom in each island. That was 1968. We have had up to 44 years of experience of separate independence to say whether he was right ‐ not only here and in Jamaica, but in all the independences that followed, in Barbados and then in the smaller OECS islands ‐ and, of course, in Guyana and Belize. Judgement will not be uniform; but I believe that many West Indians, in many parts of our Region, will say that Sir Arthur was right ‐ and is; and that the answer to my speculative question is ‘Yes’, we would be better off as West Indians, were we celebrat‐ ing next week the 50th Anniversary of the Independence of the Federated West indies. But, besides Sir Arthur’s particular questions are oth‐ ers which we cannot avoid; questions not only for Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago, but for all of us; questions which probe whether as independent countries we have done as well individually as we might have done collectively. To mention only a few, starting with the specific and contemporary: Had there been a Federation, with a region‐wide regu‐ latory agency, could it have done better in preventing the debacle of CLICO and BAICO and the terrible consequences for ordinary people now being felt throughout the region, including here in Trinidad and Tobago? Would we have been in a better position to feed our growing population by mobilising the land resources of Guyana, Suriname and Belize, the capital of Trinidad and the skills of Barbados and other countries to create a vi‐ able food economy that reduces our import bill of over US$3 billion? Would we have been better able to manage the securi‐ ty of our borders, and to exploit the possibilities afforded by the Exclusive Economic Zone authorised by the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, by the estab‐ lishment of a seamless maritime boundary across much of the Eastern Caribbean island chain? In the UN Climate Change negotiations, and at the up‐ coming Rio+20 Summit on Environment and Development, would we have been listened to with greater respect and at‐ tention, speaking as a single voice from a bloc of island states and low‐lying countries whose very existence is threatened by climate change, and having a common cli‐ mate change mitigation and adaptation regime governed by a common political authority?
ould the Federation not have created a larger space for the creativity, productivity and ad‐ vancement of our people, especially the youth? And, could we not have done better in keeping at home the over 60% of our tertiary educated people who now live in the OECD countries? Would not our Caribbean companies been more com‐ petitive in the global community than our locally‐placednano‐ industries? Would what Eric Williams described as a single centre of decision‐making vis‐a‐vis the outside world have been able to bargain more effectively in the global community ‐ in‐ cluding with the World Bank and in the WTO, with the European Union and now with Canada and China ‐ for bet‐ ter terms and conditions for trade, aid and investment than our individual states with their smaller resources have been able to do? With its greater resources and larger pool of human tal‐ ent, would the Federation not have given us a wider field of opportunity and greater protection and prospects than our individual states have provided? Of course, not all will agree on the answers. Separatism has its beneficiaries: in political establishments, in com‐ mercial sectors, among anti‐social elements that prosper in environments of weakness. That has always been the al‐ lurement of ‘local control’. But what of the West Indian peo‐
ple ‐ the ones for whom Nor looked to federation as prov tion? Whatever our speculation that ‐ 50 years ago the movin ‘federation’, and having ‘writ’ solutions, history does not er needs of which Eric Williams w of Independence? How have we done in our responding to the real case fo ation of a more united front world ‐ diplomacy, foreign tr similar matters. How have we responded the countervailing power of o quires nothing less than the cr cision‐making vis‐a‐vis the ou How have we acted to ch state of fragmentation of the countries of which he wrote Having disposed of federation we retrieved through econom had hoped for from federatio What success has attended Have we been labouring? The ond question; and our answe itive. Within 3 years of the disso imperatives had actually ens Caribbean dialogue o Antigua/Barbados/Guyana in the establishment of CARIFTA Area, in which ultimately all t ritories would be involved. B ginning. The Agreement estab shadowed the ultimate cre community of the Caribbean t self enabled by closer econo units. When Eric Williams inscrib to mein 1970, the Caribbea Market was on its way to bein being planted; but the labour ue. Work on the Treaty to form under the guidance of William other brilliant son of this soil regional economic integratio of West Indian regionalists: Treaty was signed at Chagua original Treaty of Chaguaram Ministers Barrow, Burnham, M The signing of the Treaty has b in the history of West Indian And it was a highpoint of r In that same year we were n European Community as on Community ‐ and using our o the African, Caribbean and P reducing the developing cou Convention with Europe from ing our own at the UN in New ternational ‘make‐over’ deb Economic Order. And, just mo Treaty, on Guyana’s initiative and Trinidad and Tobago had and broken the diplomatic December 1972. And there President Ronald Reagan’s C had advanced proposals for a the Caribbean Basin, with Tri host the defining Summit Con But we had flattered to dec lapsed into inertia and wors 1982, the Heads of Governm Common Market Council, CAR
rman Manley spoke when he iding a wider field for ambi‐
n ‐ and it can be no more than ng finger of history wrote out moved on. But in writing out rase needs. What about those wrote in 1969, within 7 years
r separate independences in r unity that he saw in the cre‐ t in dealing with the outside rade, foreign investment and
to his view that ‘to increase ur small individual units... re‐ reation of a single centre of de‐ utside world? ange the present disgraceful e Commonwealth Caribbean e with trenchant authority? n for better or for worse, have mic integration the gains we on? d our labours in the vineyard? ese are all aspects of the sec‐ er can, indeed, be more defin‐
lution of the Federation, these sured the resumption of the f unity through the nitiative of 1965 which led to A ‐ the Caribbean Free Trade the previously federated ter‐ But CARIFTA was just the be‐ blishing it had expressly fore‐ ation of ‘a viable economic territories’. ‐ a Community it‐ omic integration between its
bed From Columbus to Castro an Community and Common ng agreed. The vineyard was r of nurturing would contin‐ malise and fill it out was in hand Demas at the Secretariat ‐ an‐ who toiled in the vineyard of on and inspired a generation economists and others. The ramas on July 4th 1973 ‐ the mas ‐ signed initially by Prime Michael Manley and Williams. been described as a landmark people’; and so it was. regional unity and confidence. negotiating with the still new e Caribbean ‐ with our own oneness to forge the unity of Pacific countries (the ACP) ‐ untries negotiating the Lomé m 46 to 1. And we were hold‐ w York and Geneva in the in‐ bate on a New International onths before the signing of the e Barbados, Guyana, Jamaica d defied hemispheric opinion c embargo against Cuba in e was more. Long before US Caribbean Basin Initiative we an Association of countries of nidad and Tobago offering to nference. ceive. Within years, we had re‐ e. For 7 years, from 1975 to ment Conference ‐ with the RICOM’s ‘principal organ’ ‐ did
not meet. This is not the time or place for an inquest into Caribbean dissipation; the excuses were multiple: the en‐ larging economic disparity between Trinidad and Tobago and Guyana and Jamaica in particular; the virus of ‘ideological pluralism’ that infected the integration process; the divi‐ sive effects of the emergence of Grenada’s Revolutionary Government specifically, and the threat of a return of the region to external power rivalries; the deterioration of per‐ sonal relations between Caribbean leaders to the point of incivility. By the end of the 70s it was realised that an im‐ passe had been reached in Caribbean affairs and the CARI‐ COM Council turned to William Demas and a team of re‐ gional experts to ‘review the functioning of Caribbean integration.....and prepare a strategy for its improvement in the decade of the 1980s’. The Group’s findings were blunt and worth recalling: An analysis of the performance of CARICOM in its three areas of activity shows that, although gains were registered in many aspects of functional cooperation and to a lesser ex‐ tent with respect to inter‐regional trade, inadequate progress was made in production integration and coordination of foreign policies....The misunderstandings......that charac‐ terised certain initiatives taken by some member countries in the field of external economic relations also gave a poor public image to the Community. But their conclusions contained seeds of hope: The fact, however, that the institutional framework of the community remains intact, that an inter‐governmental di‐ alogue was and is being sustained and that intra‐regional trade and functional cooperation continue to show resilience and in some cases growth, indicate that the foundations of the movement are still intact. But hope was misplaced. The Grenada invasion in 1983 effectively put paid to any ‘re‐launch’ of CARICOM. ………. A year ago, the Institute of International Relations of the University of the West Indies here at St Augustine ‐ as I recall, very much the creation of Eric Williams ‐ conduct‐ ed a study of the region’s record by some of the most emi‐ nent scholars on the Caribbean. It is the most authoritative contemporary commentary on the state of Caribbean inte‐ gration ‐ the state of the vineyard. Entitled Caribbean Regional Integration, its Executive Summary said the fol‐ lowing: There was a real sense that the optimistic era of Caribbean integration may well have passed just at the time when it is most desperately needed. The difficul‐ ties facing the region are no longer simply about competing effectively in a globalisingeconomy. Rather, they are ‘existential threats’ which bring into ques‐ tion the fundamental viability of Caribbean so‐ ciety itself. Climate change, transnational crime, the decline of regional industries, food security, governance challenges, internationaldiplo‐ macy and so on are problems which can only be effec‐ tively addressed by co‐ordinat‐ ed regional responses.
Moreover, these problems are becoming increasingly acute in the immediate present; failure to act immediately, decisively and coherently at the regional level could quite conceivably herald the effective decline of Caribbean society as a ‘perfect storm’ of problems gathers on the horizon. The regional leadership is seen as crit‐ ical to either the continued deterioration of the integration process, or its re‐generation. ...This report is therefore timely in terms of both its recommendations and the window of opportunity that has opened for the region ‐ and especially the Heads of Government (HoG) ‐ to seize the integration initiative. It cannot be stressed just how crit‐ ical the present juncture is; this may well be the last chance to save the formal integration process in the Caribbean as we know it, and to set the region on a new devel‐ opment path. Another opportunity might not present itself in the future. The study was available before last year’s CARICOM Summit in St. Kitts; but there is no indication that Caribbean Heads took notice of it. Certainly their decision to ‘pause’ the integration process; slow down the pace a bit, as the Chairman insisted, is at total variance with the Study’s call for the re‐ generation of the integration process
t the St. Kitts Summit, the Honourable KamlaPersad‐ Bissessar, Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago ‐ and a successor of Eric Williams ‐ asserted that: “Trinidad and Tobago is for CARI‐ COM and for regional integration”, So, in dif‐ ferent words, did many other political leaders. Why then is ‘one West Indies’ an oxymoron to so many? We all need to ponder this as we cele‐ brate 50 years of independence; not just Trinidad and Tobago and Jamaica this year; but everyone over the years to come. While we celebrate survival; we must not ignore our under‐achievement and pretend that they were 50 glorious years. On the regional slate, which is ours col‐ lectively, the record is not good, and the trends beyond 50 are palpably worry‐ ing. Caribbean people know of these failures, they know the state of the regional vineyard. They are no longer moved by political promises of its imminent improvement. Yet, po‐ litical leaders over the years have sustained the pretence that regional in‐
tegration is moving forward. The opposite is now so obvi‐ ous that pretences are being abandoned….. You in Trinidad and Tobago are in some respects the strongest now. When Jamaica precipitated the fall of feder‐ alism 50 years ago they were the strongest in our Region. But they precipitated that fall on a lack of knowledge and false belief ‐ deliberately fostered by those who opposed fed‐ eration for their narrow political purposes. Federation is an octopus anxious to suck Jamaica dry, recorded John Mordecai as being a symbol used by the JLP to embroider their oppo‐ sition campaign. Youmust not, in your present strength, do the same to Caribbean integration. Remaining out of the full appellate jurisdiction of the Caribbean Court of Justice is one of those acts that, without meaning to, could precipitate a collapse of more than the Court. Continuing to squat on the door‐step of the Privy Council50 years after Independence; keeping the CCJ on ‘probation’ while clinging to its Headquarters, is not the in‐ tegration model to which this country is legally bound. Fortunately, Prime Minister Persad‐Bissesar has said enough to suggest that all is not lost for that model. Were it lost, we would all be the weaker. You would lose not only a guaranteed market for your manufactured goods and for your services, but also allies ‐ kith and kin ‐ who would stand at your elbow and strengthen your arm in your bargaining with countries larger and stronger than you; and in resisting external forces that threaten the safety of your so‐ ciety; all those gains that Eric Williams saw ‐ after Independence ‐ as the pillars on which rested the real case for unity of the Caribbean countries. But let me be more positive. The Caribbean Community needs Trinidad and Tobago not just as a player but as a leader ‐ an intellectual leader most of all. It will not have escaped you how central ‐ and, indeed, how indispensable ‐ have been the roles that Trinidadian leaders and tech‐ nocrats have played in the history of moulding our scat‐ tered archipelago into a West Indian Community, if not yet a West Indian nation.
T&T Review June 2012
By DAVID CAVE
HE Art Society is a veritable institution, having been established almost twenty years before Independence, in 1943. In this year of Trinidad and Tobago’s 50th anniversary of Independence, the Art Society opted to connect the present with its en viably long history in presenting an exhibition titled Nostalgia The Old Inspires the New, which ran from 18th May to 2nd June 2012. This exhibition was one of the Art Society’s most publicised and marketed ever, enjoying good support from both public and private sectors.. As far as art exhibitions in Trinidad and Tobago go, Nostalgia was impressive with 56 works of art on dis play and on sale. In keeping with its relatively novel de gree of openness, work could be found in any genre, from traditional drawing and painting to sculpture, pho tography, digital graphic design and collage. In terms of quality, the exhibition was impressive. Pieces such as Abuela by Colin Bootman, the realism of Cross Breed and William Francis Rummie by Roberta Stoddart and the abstract piece Rhizome by Candice Sobers provided a clear and definite reassurance of the talent and artistic capacity that reside our art. The ex hibition itself was proof that the logistics could come to gether to create an impressive show. Give the successes of this exhibition and the modest catalogue prices, the lack of support for the fine arts in
T&T is all the more perplexing. Compared to other markets, T&T art remains severely undervalued. In economically depressed Jamaica, for example, visual art still manages to fetch attractive sums in US dollars to boot. The Jamaican art market is signifi cantly more developed than ours, to the point where the Jamaican branch of Scotiabank deals with the ap praisal and collection of art. In Barbados, the dimunitive National Art Gallery puts our National Art Gallery to shame. In terms of the art itself at Nostalgia, that tension of which Derek Walcott spoke in reviewing the Art Society’s Independence Exhibition in October, 1962, the year of Independence, was still alive and discernible. For Walcott back then, the tension was the result of the diametrically opposed forces of local creativity and strong foreign influences, each pulling against the other in the effort to create good indigenous art. Today, not only does that old “tension” persist, but it is made even more overbearing by a heavy and palpable sense of stagnation. While there seems to be no lack of talent and artistic ability in Trinidad and Tobago, there is a serious void with respect to the sense of direction and implementation of support structures for our artists, art galleries and art market. If we continue to be apathetic and complacent and fail to put measures in place to dynamise the visual arts, we will have even less to celebrate in Art fifty years from now.
Rhizome by Candice Sobers
Abuela by Colin Bootman
T&T Review June 2012
7000 Years of Popular Science ...From India
Usually, it is Indian movies that draw the crowds, but in Chaguanas these days, thou‐ sands are streaming in to view, of all things, a science exhibi‐ tion. “India: A Culture of Science” which runs from two months from May 22 to July 20, has been hailed as the first tangible prod‐ uct of the Prime Minister's offi‐ cial visit to India in January. In the space of four months, India's National Council of Science Museums and Trinidad and Tobago's National Institute of Higher Education, Science, Research and Technology (Niherst) have managed to put on a large‐scale exhibition of over 175 exhibits covering 7000 years of India's history in sci‐ ence. The exhibition is presented through 3D interactives, mod‐ els, graphic displays, artefacts, multimedia games and videos. The Divali Nagar premises in Chaguanas is almost unrecog‐ nizable as host location even as it underscores the need for a suitable, purpose‐built location for exhibitions of the scale rep‐ resented by this one. Visitors have been particu‐ larly enthralled by the life‐like depictions of indigenous tech‐ nology that evoke the early Indo‐ Trinidadian experience and the fine filigree jewelry and cotton fabric being made on‐the‐spot by Indian craftsmen. The science demonstrations and games are a big hit, especially with stu‐ dents. The day's schedule combines the exhibition tour with lectures and cultural performances. Exhibition hours, Monday to Friday are 9am to 7 pm and 1pm to 9pm on Sundays and public holidays. Admission is free.
Caribbean Spirit World in New York By JEROME TEELUCKSINGH Glenville Ashby The Believers: The Hidden World of West Indian Spiritualism in New York (London and Hertfordshire: Hansib Publications, 2012) 188 pages ONE of the most fascinating recent books published on the West Indian diaspora is The Believers. The author, Dr. Glenville Ashby is well‐known and respected in New York and Trinidad and Tobago as an accomplished jour‐ nalist. He provides a profound analysis into the religious and spiritual experi‐ ences of a segment of the working class Caribbean diaspora in one of the most diverse states in the United States. The book contains 39 concise chap‐ ters that are coherent and informative. It provides valuable snapshots of a diasporic people who are trying to sur‐ vive in their adopted homeland. Ashby is accurate in stating, “The Caribbean psyche is rooted in the spirit world. The spirits are everywhere. They are integral to social, economic and politi‐ cal life” (p.2). Evidence of assimilation, accultura‐ tion and adaptation is prevalent in Chapters 5, 6 and 7. The author pro‐ vides a first‐hand account of Kali wor‐ ship and reflects on the lives of Hindus in New York. Pundit Rakesh Maharaj's comment was noted by Ashby, “He talked about the City and Fire Department regulations that restricted the lighting of deyas, and how per‐ forming a puja here could be a little more expensive” (p. 30). Throughout the book, Ashby's analyses reflect a keen observer who utilizes social, religious and cultural lenses. An illustration of his objectivity and awareness of historical baggage is evident in his comment, “Every culture is different and they worship God through their experiences…. I gave some thought to the whole experience and realised how much Western reli‐ gious thought had prejudiced our con‐ cept of the spiritual” (p. 27). In Chapter 15 'Immanuel Bones' and Chapter 22 'Haitian Magic', Ashby vividly recalls the conduct of meetings and the reactions of participants and leaders. Readers would be enthralled with Chapter 28 'The Grandmaster' as it offers insight into the meaning of the spiritual alphabet and occult symbols. The explanations emanate from Archbishop Philip Lewis‐ the grand‐ master who recalled seeing persons, associated with the banquets or Kabbalistic table, die unnatural deaths. The thought‐provoking issues in The Believers will prove interesting for
scholars and lay‐persons. Topics as life after death, the existence of God and spiritual forces, good and evil and forms of communication with gods will certainly contribute to philosophi‐ cal and religious debates. The author also provides personal reflections such as “The belief in God does not require you to be devout. It's just a feeling you cannot explain, a knowing that you cannot prove, but a sure bet that there is something much bigger than us all” (p. 172). This work should serve as an inspi‐ ration for West Indian writers in North
America and Europe to document the rich spiritual tapestry of the Caribbean diaspora. In retrospect, The Believers should be compulsory reading for any‐ one who seeks to understand the sig‐ nificance of spiritual and religious realms of West Indians in New York.
• Jerome Teelucksingh is a senior lecturer in the Department of History, University of the West Indies, St Augustine, Trinidad and Tobago
T&T Review June 2012
T&T Review June 2012
D’eath of Us The Passing of Phillip Moore
By LeRoy Clarke
Guyana’s internationally acclaimed artist and sculptor, Phillip Moore died on Sunday, May 13 at the age of 90 at his home on the Corentyne, East Berbice. His most famous work is the 33-foot 1763 Monument tribute to Cuffy, the leader of the Berbice uprising who is Guyana's national hero. Moore considered himself a “spirit taught” artist, citing a dream he had in 1955 of a huge hand reaching down to him from the heavens as a voice commanded him to become an artist. He was a resident tutor at the Burrowes School of Art in Guyana and professor at Princeton University.
T IS amazing how some events touch us with a seam‐ less mutuality that signifies the extraordinary bond we have, even though, too often, we take it for granted. The passing of our Spiritual Mentor, Grand Master Artist and Philosopher, Phillip Moore should bring us into consternation of our all too ca‐ sual attitude to the welfare of each other. We are sufficiently aware of the unending struggle that faces us individually, as Artists, be it painters or poets, musicians, thinkers, sculptors or novelists ‐ creationists all‐ yet a gulf of in‐ difference seems to increase our risks at being in insurmountable bondage of anxiety, separate and apart from each other. The last chapter of our mag‐ nificent Pointerman, Phillip, was not only met with apathy, but with the sodden rumour of his wors‐ ening all‐round condition, and from which we idly turned away; that should trigger in us the need for greater responsibility to each other and a lessening of our nomad inclination that often caus‐ es us to fade into the thralldom of loneliness, abandonment and the certainty of unceremonious death! Guyana is a marvelously dense, unique repository. Its rivers are dark, slowly moving seas that map innumerable paths to hideously forbidding heights where mountains are continuing to rise among splendours un‐ dreamt, mute and concealed in a planetary width of green that is the enigma of abundance, out‐ stressing any logical and politi‐ cal mind. This is where noise is a queer absurdity in the almost suc‐ culent harmony that absorbs the slightest trespass. This is where initiations to the realm of imagi‐ nation begin! This is the birth‐ place of renowned avant‐gardes, the likes of Denis Williams, Aubrey Williams, Edgar Mittelholzer, Jan Carew, Wilson Harris, Walter Rodney, Forbes Burnham, Clyde Walcott, Shivnarine Chanderpaul, Clive Lloyd, Martin Carter, Michael Gilkes and other Light Bringers…This is the birthplace of our magnanimous spirit made visible ‐Phillip Moore‐that we may touch it! Phillip Moore, despite all odds that disfavoured him with their ignorance of the significance of his presence in the world we in‐ habit without any sense of dwelling, was the physical en‐ dowment of an undamped spir‐ it, meant to insist on our effort to hold strain, bearing the severity of savagely bent convictions, those before which, the human spirit is
1793 monument by Phillip Moore, cast bronze, Plaza of the Revolution, Georgetown, Guyana.
beginning to wilt; and those, about which, we must be intensely aware, measure for measure, if we were to attain our true height and its sovereignty. Our paths crossed several times leaving me that feeling of an engagement within a mor‐ phological space; it vibrated as if it were an actual dialectic held to its fort, but more at the very mo‐ ment of summarizing the criteri‐ on of several conversations. And those were being conducted as if emanating from the blinding root of unconsciousness, just enough to allow the visible brimming of appearances adorned in the em‐ broideries of incandescent de‐ calcomania!
eeing him is an act‐mag‐ netized perception; one cannot be settled enough in one's own, not to be drawn into an extraordinary hap‐ pening ‐his orbit! He lured us into imaginings of primordial states, of living geneses that procure for our excitement, “the phenome‐ non of simultaneity” where Past, Present and Future in a pendu‐ lumnic swing, are caught… loom‐ ing precise moment, Totemic Present. Tree‐like too, in its noble ethos, weathered, encrypted skins turned absorbed centurion ‐a vi‐ sual orchestration of primordial convergences‐ that was Phillip, a centrifugal force of an insoluble disposition to his faith. And, as if navigating the multi‐dimension‐ ality of a space absolved from us, he romped through, pass the bombasticity of our illicit crafts, with a
humorous glint at solitariness that glowed around him; the enigmatic charts of the virtuosity of his liv‐ ing art, how they omitted us! And for that, how we retaliated with our spiteful good! Whereas the islands of our Caribbean in reality are fragments of disemboweled origins, and, en masse anxiously precipitant, emp‐ tying ourselves in increasing slip‐ shod festivities, Guyana's plural‐ ity, notwithstanding its rich cogitative dimensionality, is stol‐ id‐blind to the opportunity as gate‐ way to a yet unmatched, contem‐ plative imagination that, in the West, can be the seat of New World aesthetics. As is of such, we must be urged on to recognize in Phillip Moore and his life work, species of significations that, at all cost and sacrifice, be preserved in the power willed them, and not hindered by popular unintelli‐ gence, to be slaughtered by malice of the impotent, and the decadence of wild‐flung‐sh*t‐in‐the‐face mediocrity! Clothed pure, in a wistful cli‐ mate of equity, echoing riddles, he walked to the beat of a con‐ stant call to be shrewd and ex‐ emplary, always arriving as if from somewhere hidden; a fisher of dreams, but as huge quartz of memory, stepping barely above its continent, ready to dictate to us, of what we are and can be. Therein, was the driving force of The Grand Master; he was em‐ bodied by an unwavering faith in the Arts to assure qualities that make the world of our word, pal‐ pable Destiny.
It was there, at Princeton, in New Jersey, in the privilege of a grant that he stood, the voice of an Oracle open to the world, never‐ theless, here he is, a Caribbean Voice that up to the present has not been eared here! It is with un‐ canny‐ness that our artists are insisted upon to seek recognition abroad first, before they are made aware of, in their own home, yet to suffer indignities under no less than nefarious systems that will‐ fully hold the Genius of our heart‐ land in the bondage of their in‐ difference. Nowhere in the world are the artists treated as meagerly and with such contempt as is the case in the Caribbean; the inevitable plague of our space is a pauper‐ izing of will that is essential to shaping a society of the millions that populate it, leaving our best attempts flagellated ‐the wilted glow of agate that is our pride‐ less carnival has overtaken us with its funeral slur of too many noble dead buried here.
rom the firm wonder of the Kaiteur Falls he extri‐ cated the model of Cuffie's defiant presence that would emphasize his philosophy, Godmanliness. This monument to his staunch belief in God‐Word‐ Manliness will herald that axial moment in his sense of origins; his was an African presencing of Word. He seemed a fitted bride‐ groom, willed suitor to the reck‐ onings of his Queen, the Muse of his calling! LeRoy, O LeRoy, he moaned, a caveat of memory! Pointing to a photograph of Miriam Makeba on his night table near his bed, where Eye could not imagine he slept; it was an altar, because all else had added to im‐ press me thus, a cave, the inch to inch‐filled walls of paintings, in the single three or four storied house, shy and away from its neighborhood, a salute to its own hinterland afar and away from the Guyanas. In the Passing, the endured Majesty of the Supreme Artist haunts the absurd trials of fictions brought to bear heavy with disdain on the Noble Soul of Humanity. Where were you when they slaughtered him with dwarf‐ like seditions that gnaw away at the most highborn texts to leave his lips… Leave the heart of his hands… Grandfather, Master Artist… We may never know who you were, and are among us in the lies we tell ourselves… Slaves that we are, and well kept strangers, protuberances, far and oblivious from that singular pun‐ gency of spirit awaiting us! —email@example.com
STRATEGY FOR FOOTBALL’S
T&T Review June 2012
Wind Up Pro-League, Return to Community By ASHFORD JACKMAN
ers and coaches, in their desperate quest not merely to win trophies but to get into the ul‐ timate vehicle for global exposure: the Champions League. Meanwhile, local clubs struggle to pay meagre salariesand often sell their best players just to stay afloat. The Pro League draws its talent from home, where guns, gangs and drugs have lured ‐ and continue to lure ‐ a significant percentage of the potential players away from sport. Aside from its own home‐grown talent, Europe has al‐ ways commanded the best from South America; in recent decades, it has added the cream of Africa, Asia and the CONCACAF as tributaries feeding into its mainstream leagues. Cable and satellite TV are dumping this European juggernaut smack into Caribbean living‐rooms while whatever is not available on Fox Sports and ESPN can be accessed for a few dollars more on the Jamaica‐based Sportsmax channel. Our domestic football has as much chance of survival as a corner roti‐shop when KFC, Burger King and Subway suddenly open up outlets on the same or a nearby street.
N THE fourth day of the opening Test at Lord’s, when the West Indies had fought their way back to give them‐ selves an outside chance of victory, two of our three leading TV stations both teased and led their sportscasts with the news that Chelsea had beaten Bayern Munich in the European Champions League final. The TV highlights were followed by “Vox‐Pop” reac‐ tions fromamong a large gathering of jubilant Chelsea “fans” and their grieving Bayern coun‐ terparts, both having watched the game on large screens erected in Port of Spain in a bid to simulate the atmosphere inside Munich’s Allianz Arena. The cricketers, including T&T’s own Denesh Ramdin who had contributed a critical 43 runs, were relegated to third in the news pecking order.It was a damning statement of where our loyalties lie; our present‐day sports re‐ porters, after all, are merely reflecting atidal wave that is drowning much, much more than cricket. Ironically, while cricket was used to illustrate my point, it is, to my mind,local foot‐ ball more than any other sport that is most immediately threatened by this runaway trend; and,if the domestic game is to survive, the sit‐ uation might just call for hard decisions that could lead to great upheaval. At the launch of a major tournament several months ago, Dexter Skeene, CEO of the TT Pro League, said that the season was proving to be “a challenge, to say the least.” Doubtless, prominent among his thoughts was the last‐ minute withdrawal of Joe Public, the loss of income from the League’s remaining die‐hard supporters (inflicted by the State of Emergency and accompanying curfew) and the strain on defending champs Defence Force, as well as Police, forced as the protective services were to play their full slate of matches over a con‐ siderably shorter period after the SoE was lift‐ ed. Considering that all this had come in the wake of T&T’s elimination ‐ at the feet of Guyana, no less ‐from World Cup 2014, it was no small achievement on the part of Skeene and his staff that the League and all related tournaments had contrived to retain their sponsorship. What Skeene could not do was get crowds out to matches, even after things were back to normal. The ployof running the League on parallel with Europe was doomed from the start; from September to May, the locals who are into football were all at home or in sport bars watching Barcelona, Real Madrid, the two
Dexter Skeene...wealth of experience
Manchester heavyweights and the rest of the heavily‐marketed English Premier League. David against Goliath does not begin to de‐ scribe the odds against the survival of a pro‐ fessional league in a single Caribbean state today. Size, money and technology have changed everything. The TT Pro League has a maximum potential market of 1.3 million spec‐ tators; individual European clubs alone com‐ mand followings that are several times that figure. Pro League matches are recorded and played back days later on a local sports chan‐ nel. In contrast, matches in Europe are shown live via satellite around the globe, withnet‐ works paying hundreds of millions of dollars in cash for the right to broadcast them. The Pro League uses its shoe‐string budget to place
a few ads in the newspapers; the UEFA leagues are backed by comprehensive marketing strate‐ gies and campaigns that go so far as to include the participation of major clubs in off‐season tournaments in China, India and wherever there is wealth, for the sole purpose of “hook‐ ing” new markets for TV rights and uniform and memorabilia sales. That does not include the value of spon‐ sors’ messages on signage around the playing fields and on the players’ kitswhich are broad‐ cast to millions around the world. Not for noth‐ ing have the world’s wealthiest businessmen come to appreciate the true meaning of the term “The Beautiful Game.” European clubs are owned by massive conglomerates that in‐ vest staggering sums in the purchase of play‐
ow did Trinidad and Tobago’s football land in this mess? For the answer, we have to go back to the 2001 FIFA Under‐17 World Championship. FIFA’s laws dictate that, to host a major tour‐ nament, a country must have a professional league and its stadia must meet certain crite‐ ria.True, the United States started the MLS after staging the 1994 World Cup; but in this world of greed where money talks, some, as George Orwell pointed out, are more equal than others. T&T spent millions building four stadia just to host that tournament and since the Hasely Crawford was the premium arena, we may have established a record of sorts‐ four groups playing at five venues; so that one group had to split its matches between the AtoBoldonand the Manny Ramjohnstadiums. For a while, all went well enough with the Pro League; the football drew crowds and T&T clubs were actually importing talent from Guyana, St. Lucia, Antigua, St Kitts and even Brazil.But the oil boom ended and reality checked in. Wages are now rumoured to be at an all‐time low, and players are as eager to seek betterment abroad as the owners seem anxious to sell them. Additionally, with the na‐ tional team languishing at 82nd in the FIFA rankings, players have had to accept whatev‐ er crumbs are thrown at them. In the just concluded season, Shahdon Winchester, Hughton Hector, Cornel Glen, Clyde Leon and Devon Jorsling have all
T&T Review June 2012
‘Those who genuinely love the game in Trinidad and Tobago must act sooner rather than later. We must first extricate ourselves from a fight that we cannot hope to win. The Pro League must be wound up, with club owners being compensated according to their records and the audited value of their assets- physical and human’ been either recruited or on trial in Vietnam. Jerrel Britto and Kendal Jagdeosingh have been to Turkey and Thailand respectively, and Densil Theobald has just returned from the Indian league. A few even play in more recognised leagues ‐ Khaleem Hyland in Belgium, Lester Peltier in Slovakia, Mekeil Williams in Poland, Robert Primus in Kazakhstan and Carlyle Mitchell with the Vancouver Whitecaps. Even Kenwyne Jones, who must be under tremendous pressure at Stoke City, will hang in there, even if he has to take a drop down to the English
Championship. The Pro League product is further diluted every time another player of some talent leaves for greener pastures. Small wonder the football‐lov‐ ing public has gravitated in droves to the well‐marketed and inevitably superior alter‐ natives on Cable television. It matters not that problems of racial hatred may be rife among the followers of Barcelona, Real, Juventus, Inter, Liverpool, United, Dortmund or Munich; when a local “fan” buys the shirt and dons it on Saturday morning to sit in front of his flat‐screen, he is mere‐ ly trying to belong. The problems experienced by Anton Ferdinand, Patrice Evra and Mario Balotelli, to name only those three, are realities that are cleverly hidden from the cameras; they are issues the local supporter is not prepared to con‐ front. Safe in the comfort of his liv‐
Densil Theobald… just back from India
ing‐room or of the sports bar, he is living his dream. But all is not lost. Those who genuinely love the game in Trinidad and Tobago must act sooner rather than later. We must first extri‐ cate ourselves from a fight that we cannot hope to win. The Pro League must be wound up, with club owners being compensated ac‐ cording to their records and the audited value of their assets‐ physical and human. Our pre‐ mier league must return to its roots, with clubs based, as in the pre‐Jack “Voice of One” Warner era, on regions‐ Arima, Tunapuna, San Juan, Santa Cruz, Maraval, Carenage, Diego Martin, Caroni, San Fernando, Point Fortin, Palo Seco, Scarborough and Roxborough. Such an approach comes with a “hook” of its own, community interest and allegiance. How can this work? For one, there are the material benefits. The State can provide partial annual funding to each regional organisation and ap‐ point representatives to super‐ vise and ensure things are done above board. Objectors need to be reminded that, for over two decades, two men essentially ran all foot‐ ball in the country.Today, the Association is bankrupt and monies, earned in large quan‐ tities over the years, cannot be accounted for. A returning to amateur or even semi‐professional status will signif‐ icantly reduce the cost of running the league and other major compe‐ titions.Players and coaches who stand out can be offered part‐time employment contracts; in other words, those who work hard and excel can become semi‐profession‐ al. Such a scheme will provide part‐ time employment for people in de‐ pressed areas, from as simple a task as washing the team uniforms to providing meals, driving the team bus and producing a uniform rhythm section made up entirely of villagers. When, aside from the players repre‐ senting their communities, there are people involved in the day‐to‐day op‐ erations of the club, those who live in the region will have an interest in and a reason to support whatever the club does. Local and multi‐national firms can be encouraged to sponsor clubs; they might be influenced by location, for ex‐ ample, Angostura in Laventille, or by interest, such as Atlantic LNG in the oil belt. There is no income to be earned from broadcast rights‐ our local TV stations cannot and will not pay for a commodity they cannot re‐sell; but they can be made to provide an agreed quantity of promotion in ex‐ change for the right to video‐tape matches. The scheme also offers other ad‐
vantages. No one can deny that the lure of financial compensa‐ tion from clubs abroad has been a major influential factor in the rash of foreign transfers that we have seen in recent years. In the community‐ based alternative, there will either be no reward for a player leaving to play professionally abroad, or the money will go towards the club’s finances. The con‐ tinuous bleeding of talent will slow down significant‐ ly; it is unrealistic to believe it can be stopped com‐ pletely. There would be no need to search for per‐ sonnel to run this nation‐ al league; the current TT Pro League executive and staff have built up sev‐ eral years of experience in running a league with little or no income from the gates; Skeene himself has managed to bring in sponsors in spite of all the setbacks; such experience should be put to use in order to ensure that the new league takes off smoothly. For years, individual voices have called for a re‐ turn to our roots of com‐ munity‐based football; but these pleas have fallen on deaf earsperhaps because there has never been a con‐ certed call. But the greatest argument in favour of a return to the past is lying in the open for all to see. It is to be found in the de‐ plorable state of the nation’s football and the fact that most of our greatest accomplishments of yesteryear were achieved in the days of the community clubs. When the “Strike Squad” made the entire football world focus on T&T for one fateful day in November 1989, the national league was all amateur; even the key figures in qualifying for Germany 2006 owe their early development to a period before the face of the national league was changed. These are solid arguments for dismantling a sys‐ tem that has not worked. The alternative is to continue to engage in a battlewhich we stand absolutely no chance of winning.
Kenwyne Jones…hanging in at Stoke City
T&T Review June 2012
Discipline vs Dictatorship
Earl Best assesses the ODI prospects
IRK EDWARDS has played nine Tests, scored 665 runs including two centuries, four half‐centuriesand a run of 0, 4, 1, 0, 7 and 0 in his last six innings. Edwards is the current vice‐cap‐ tain of the West Indies team. Ramnaresh Sarwan has played 87 Tests, scored 5842 runs including 15 centuries, 31 half‐centuries and a run of 94, 18, 117, 98, 19, 17, and 6 in his last six innings. Sarwan is a former captain of the West Indies who is not in the regional Test squad for England…and was not even considered at any stage.Apparently. Darren Sammy has played 26Tests, scored 968 runs including one century and two half‐ centuriesand a run of 61, 10, 37, 17, 106and 25 in his last six innings. Sammy is the cur‐ rentcaptain of the West Indies team. Christopher Gayle has played 91 Tests, scored 6373 runs including 13 centuries and 33 half‐ centuries and a run of 26,82*, 57, 6, 128*and 27 in his last six innings. Gayle, the leading run‐getter in IPL 2012 with 733 runs in‐ cluding an unforgettable century against the Delhi Daredevils, is a former captain of the West Indies who last played for the region in December 2010 and who is not in the Test squad for England…and was not even con‐ sidered at any stage. Apparently. The current top four in the West Indies batting order boast a grand total of 49 Tests among them; almost half as many as Gayle's 91 and just short of 40 less than Sarwan's 87. Yet there is no room in the side for the in‐form Jamaican left‐hander who went out of his way to make himself available or the frus‐ trated Guyanese right‐hander who, be it noted, has publicly declared his allegiance to his current county Leicestershire. But is that an accident? Might it not be that, adapting Sparrow, WI like it so? Even before the series started, West Indies team coach Ottis Gibson was declaring his satisfaction with “taking it into the fourth day.” Why, therefore, the seeming surprise to discover skipper Sammy's smug satisfac‐ tion at not winning but at merely putting up a fight? Whydoes anyone think that the West Indies are really trying to win? Whywould it surprise anyone that the side led by Sammy and Gibson is 0‐2 down in the three‐Test se‐ ries with one still to play? Why if we are de‐ termined not to pick our best team ‐ not the XI best, ent Hilaire? but the best XI ‐ are we even bothering to take the field? One can be forgiven for thinking that the people in charge have a vested interest in the regional side's continuing failure to turn the corner. On what grounds, really, can the omis‐ sion of Gayle from the squad for the Second Test be justified? What more does he have to do to make it clear how much he wants to serve his land on the field of play? Proud Jamaican that he is, it must have been tanta‐ mount to a public humiliation for him to swal‐ low such a huge slice of humble pie as the WICB required of him; but swallow he did. It must have cost him a princely sum to with‐ draw from his summer contract with Somerset; but withdraw he did. What has he got in return? Loud silence. Protested he has not. Nor have we. Not enough. Fortunately for us all, Michael Holding has championed the cause of both Sarwan and Gayle and Jerome Taylor, the near‐forgotten talented pacerwho almost single‐handedly won us a series. “People responsible for West Indies cricket do not want Chris Gayle in the team,” the former West Indies ace told the world in a Sky Sports interview. “He (Gayle) is available, yet the WICB are still putting out press releases saying there are residual mat‐
Shivnarine Chanderpaul ters to be dealt with. What residual matters? It is supposed to be cleared [up], so what residual matter is there now?” In another interview with the Daily Mail in which he waded into the coach's methods, Holding, nicknamed Whispering Death in his heyday as a tearaway fast bowler, spoke his mind loudly and clearly about the source of the problem. “Ottis Gibson needs to understand that the West Indies cricket team is not a boot camp. He needs to learn how to man‐man‐ age. “I have no issue with Ottis trying to get discipline back into the team. But it is the way he has done it. As soon as someone says anything he doesn't particularly like, he does‐ n't want them around.” Holding may not have got it quite right but we shall be much closer to knowing the truth when the squad for the second half of the current tour is announced. It is not pos‐ sible for the selectors to overlook Gayle; they are likely to incur the wrath of even the English spectators if they were to so err. But because the IPL is now over, there are other players such as Dwayne Bravo and Sunil Narine whose absence will also have to be explained. Both players, Narine in particu‐ lar, have been enjoying very successful sea‐ sons in India and distinguishing themselves week after week by their performances.
arine, who won a lucrative contract to turn out for eventual winners the Kolkata Knight Riders, ended the sea‐ son as the second most successful bowler, his poor showing in the final against Bravo's Chennai Super Kings costing him the top spot. Bravo never quite managed to pro‐ duce a single world‐beating performance but his consistency and his reliability combined with his ability to deliver in the crunch cer‐ tainly helped the Super Kings to go all the way to the final. Hiscredentials as a genuine all‐rounder are not in question, which is prob‐ ably why his place on the West Indies team is. Skipper Sammy who, some still argue, has not earned his place on the starting XI, is the starting allrounder on the current squad. No matter what their form, three bowlers backed up by “third seamer” Sammy simply do not
seem adequate to dismiss the opposition twice. But with the already cited inexperi‐ ence of the top four, especially given their poor recent record, nobody dares go for an extra bowler. On tracks where the conditions suggest that the XI should contain a second spinner, say, or a third out‐and‐out quickie, the selectors often find that they have no real options since Sammy, who is really neither fish nor fowl, is the first man picked. Whereas before he has tended to weigh in with the ball rather than the bat, in England at pre‐ sent, the opposite is true. He still bowls as many overs as the next man but in the four in‐ nings so far completed, he has only managed five scalps in the 78 overs he has bowled. By way of comparison, Roach, the only other specialist bowler to have played both Tests, has figures of 68 overs for 8 wickets at an average of 34 runs per wicket. Marlon Samuels, picked as a batsman who bowls, has contributed 310 runs with the bat and cap‐ tured four wickets in his 36 overs with the ball, raising questions in some quarters about who is the real all‐rounder on the side. But the very real problem in England has been the form ‐ or the lack of it ‐ of the top order. The openers have posted only one partnership in excess of 30 and only once has the team score reached triple figures be‐ fore the fourth wicket fell. In four innings, none of Adrian Barath (73), Keiran Powell (47), Edwards (30) or Darren Bravo (53) has yet managed to amass 100 runs as aggregate, let alone in a single innings. Edwards' best effort has been a mere 22 but the other three have all got to 25 in at least one innings but failed to carry from that start. The conditions, mind you, have been almost as difficult as one always knew they would be with the tour starting in Maybut one does not get the im‐ pression that the necessary adaptation is going on apace. The television commenta‐ tors and analysts are having a field day iden‐ tifying flaws in the technique of the top order and they keep rubbing salt in the wound by referring to Gibson as the “bowling coach,” a none too subtle suggestion that he simply has not managed to provide the assistance the team needs most urgently at present. The good news is that the weather in Trent Bridge was better than at Lord's. And the se‐ lectors have the evidence of both of these Tests ‐ maybe even of the Third Test which starts this week ‐ on which to go before they decide on the composition of the squad for the ODIs and T20s that lie ahead. Whether they will have the courage to act on that ev‐ idence is another question. Only the most naked political intervention can keep a fit Gayle, whose 700+ runsleave his form in no doubt, and a fit Narine whose 24 wickets from 15 matches at an economy‐rate of 5.47 earned him the IPL Man‐of‐the‐Series award, out of the squad.Serious consideration will also have to be given to including all of Andre Russell, Keiron Pollard and the two Dwaynes, Bravo and Smith. The critical question is who will make room. Unless Edwards and Barath come good in Birmingham, theymust join Powell,Assad Fudadin and Narsingh Deonarine on the flight back home, Edwards' vice‐captain status not enough to offset his palpable lack of form.If Barath fails again, Chanderpaul, who has beenshouldering the middle‐order load man‐ fully as is his wont, will have to be asked to open the innings with Gaylewith Ramdin or Dwayne Smith as the back‐up. Chanders' “self‐ ishness” was justifiably the subject of some discussion after he took a single off the first ball and exposed his tail‐ender partner to the rest of the day's final over, which he did not eventually survive. But I would move him to
the opening slot because,in the context of England 2012, he is the best man to give Gayle his head by turning the strike over consis‐ tently. And his sheet‐anchor role would give him all the time he usually needs to get his eye in. Despite unleashing some of his very aes‐ thetic drives at Trent Bridge, Bravo the Younger could also lose his place, not hav‐ ing really convinced in the shorter games against Australia and not really having looked up to it on this tour so far. But I would keep him in the squad although he would not make my starting XI for Game One on June 16. But there is still Birmingham left to ne‐ gotiate before we cross the ODI bridge. The question to be asked is whether, after the morale‐destroying nine‐wicket four‐day loss in Nottinghamshire, is there anything that the West Indies can do to keep their heads above water? The simple answer, if you be‐ lieve the television analysts, is that the top order batsmen must move their feet.The video analysis of the dismissals pointed over and over to the failure to get into position to play the ball. Coach Gibson who is so strong on the senior members of the team pulling their weight and helping the younger ones, may resent my saying so but he might usefully hand over the batting coaching responsibil‐ ities to Chanderpaul.
he redoubtable Chanders, who start‐ ed his career watching the ultra‐ele‐ gant Brain Lara at the far end, is the modern batsman least concerned of all with aesthetics. He faces midwicket/squareleg as the bowler is run‐ ning in so he has no choice but to move his feet by the time the ball is released. And he is completely unperturbed if he gets into line and the ball's path takes it away from the stumps. His approach is the batting equivalent of Holding's much repeated slogan to bowlers “You miss, I hit;” “You miss,” Chanderpaul seems to say to bowlers, “I here,” a motto Bharath, Powell, Edwards, and Bravo the Younger might usefully be made to adopt. I think, however, that morale is the cru‐ cial factor which will make the difference in this week's Third Test. England are cock‐a‐ hoop, their commentators graciously dis‐ cussing how “pleasantly surprised” they were at the amount of fight that came from the lowly‐ranked WI. But the truth is that, having worked themselves back into good enough positions in both Tests so far, Sammy's men still contrived to come out on the losing end. Twice. And by a far‐from‐small margin the second time. Half the team, Chanderpaul, Roach, Ravi Rampaul, Sammy and Samuels, have something to feel confident about; every‐ one else on the team ‐ with the possible ex‐ ception of Ramdin ‐ has a question mark hang‐ ing over him. Should Sammy fail to call right on Friday and Strauss' troops get to decide who gets the better of the wicket, a white‐ wash is on the cards. If we are not lucky and the May sunshine gives way to June damp and cold, we could still make very heavy weather of what promis‐ es to be a remodelled English attack. And coaches Chanderpaul and Gibson may well find themselves with a couple of extra practice days as well. My ODI/T20 15: D.Sammy (capt.), D.J.Bravo, D.M.Bravo, S.Chanderpaul, F.Edwards, C.Gayle, S.Narine, K.Pollard, D.Ramdin, R,Rampaul, K.Roach, A.Russell, M.Samuels, S. Shillingford, D.Smith.
T&T Review June 2012
By ROMAIN PITT
ARREN SAMMY does not have to apol‐ ogize for having been selected captain of the West Indies team; he did not choose himself and, what is more, since he became captain, he does seem to be an im‐ proved player and no longer seems out of place. I would not have selected him, for one reason only, namely, that he was not an automatic se‐ lection on a West Indies Test XI. All other Test captains are and, with the possible exception of Dennis Athkinson, all our past captains since John Goddard have been. Sammy would definitely be an automatic choice on the T20 and very likely the One‐day team, along with such fine all‐rounders as Chris Gayle, Kieron Pollard, Andre Russell, Dwayne Bravo, Dwayne Smith and Lendl Simmons He is also well‐spoken and well‐mannered with no history of bad behaviour or trouble‐making. The practical problem with Sammy's cap‐ taincy arises from the difficulty selectors will always face in finding places for three specialist fast bowlers or two specialist spinners with Sammy on the team unless they can feel com‐ fortable with him as the No. 6 or, at the lowest, No. 7 batsman.That situation has already re‐ sulted in the exclusion of players like Kemar Roach, Ravi Rampaul, Fidel Edwards, Russell and Devendra Bishoo from the Test Team. What troubles me about Sammy is his ten‐ dency, in expressing support for Coach Ottis Gibson and in congratulating himself for what he perceives to be improvement in the team, to convey the impression that previous teams, even those with whom he played, did not give their best because they did not appreciate the im‐ portance of winning for the West Indian people. His language is very nuanced but the objective is quite clear. I think that approach is very unfair. As I have noted before, losing for most of the first decade of the 21st century has made West Indian fans very irrational and forgetful. No one seems to remember that in 2003 the West Indies team under Brian Lara, set a world record against a strong Australian team for a 4th inning chase.In 2004, also under Gus Logie and Lara, the Windies won the Champions Trophy and in 2006 we also got to the final of the Champions Trophy when Gayle who, along with Chanderpaul, was the in‐ form batsman, was bowled early by a Brett Lee no‐ball. After winning a One‐day "Summer" series in England under Gayle in 2007, they proceeded to defeat South Africa in South Africa in the First Test for the first time ever. After that first Test, the team was decimated by injuries. Although West Indian media and fans tend to believe that their players' injuries were either self‐inflicted or caused by laziness, I would suggest that they are not. Shortly after the South African tour in
A Matter Of Respect, Mr Sammy
Ottis Gibson and Darren Sammy
which Marlon Samuels led the averages for both teams, he was suspended for a two‐year peri‐ od. West Indies drew the Test series against Sri Lanka at home in 2008 and won the One‐day se‐ ries, with Shivnarine Chanderpaul performing one of his many miracles in Trinidad. In 2009, West Indies won a Test series against England at home. Just as Kemar Roach was be‐ ginning to emerge as a major talent, Fidel Edwards and Jerome Taylor, the destroyer of England in 2009, went down with severe in‐ juries. This brief summary ought to demonstrate that, while it is true that West Indies cricketers were not a force in the cricket world between 2003 and 2009, the players had some success and there was no evidence that they did not try to win to make their fans happy. It should also be remembered that Gayle was, like Sammy, very popular with his team‐mates. I have seen either live or on TV almost every game the West Indies team has played in the 21st century, including live Test matches in Australia and Sri Lanka. It always seemed obvi‐ ous, as would be expected, that they were doing their best to win, often against great odds, in‐ cluding unreliable umpiring and horrible weath‐ er conditions. They were not, by any stretch, the best team. In fact, there were times when the
line‐up included three very good bowlers like Pedro Collins, Corey Collymore and Ian Bradshaw who could not field. Our wicketkeepers, while decent keepers, were never in the same class as wicketkeeper/batsmen on the more successful teams. For a considerable part of that period,there was no quality spinner. Because of the weak bench strength, injuries affected West Indies more than any other team. Yet, I saw in‐ credible effort. In South Africa in 2007, the catch by an injured Chris Gayle that produced the first Test wicket ever for Rawl Lewis would rate the description "miraculous."During that same South Africa tour, Dwayne Bravo, a relatively small man, bowled for an entire session owing to in‐ juries.
n Australia in 2009, Gayle was probably the first Man‐of‐the‐Series to be chosen from the losing team. Because of their con‐ sistent performances, Chanderpaul and Ramnaresh Sarwan were regarded by all for‐ eigners as among the best middle‐order bats‐ men of the period. Time and again, Edwards (F) defended as if his life depended on it. Taylor, perhaps the greatest talent produced in years in the Caribbean, a man who virtually won a Test series against England in 2009, has been aban‐ doned without explanation by both the WICB
and the Jamaican Cricket Board. Yet, not one West Indian journalist has tried to find out and report what has become of him. When the South Africans last visited ‐ with a support staff larg‐ er than either team, be it noted ‐on the first morning of the last Test, a WICB director arranged for a 20‐year‐old fast bowler to be brought from the Cave Hill Campus to open the bowling for the West Indies. It is not right that Sammy should join the Board and some commentators in maligning West Indian cricketers simply because they were not providing the Board and commentators with victories as regularly as their psyches required. Sammy's recent warning to Gayle about Gayle's need to work hard is nothing short of outra‐ geous. As Michael Holding noted in his autobiogra‐ phy No Holding Back, as late as 1976 when rain caused no play in a Test match in Guyana, the cricketers who were to be paid $200 for the match received no pay because the policy was "No play no pay". These were the kind of con‐ ditions that caused the cricketers to organize themselves. No West Indian captain should show disrespect for his predecessors, least of all a cap‐ tain like Sammy who has not been a supporter of WIPA and who,rather than earn the captain‐ cy, had it thrust upon him.
Published on Jun 1, 2012