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BENEATH OUR FEET by Rae Samuel

posted 9 Jan 2014, 08:50 by Gerry Kangalee   [ updated 9 Jan 2014, 09:30 ]

I have just been reading the article VISION WITH ACTION CAN CHANGE THE WORLD by Bryan St. Louis. It is a call to, a cry for "Trinbagonians' to step forward and do something.. I imagine part of the reason is the reality television/cable of 20 murders in 8 days. It seems that it is now safer to cross the highway away from the overpass than to simply walk the streets. Blood flows, day by day, not night and day. Murder is now like fast food, served while standing in line  on the corner, on demand. One flavour only though....bloody!

 

The writer is a veteran trade union activist and in reading his commentary I am reminded of a maxim of the guerrilla which states that  he/she, the guerrilla, has no front lines, that the struggle is beneath his/her feet, that he/she fights wherever he/she is.

 

I want to suggest that the people of Trinidad and Tobago are fighting back, Be it the fisherfolk in La Brea, the dispossessed youth in the East West Corridor, the school children who must deal with the lies and broken pledges of the Ministries as their schools remain unopened again, all these folk are waging struggle on oil stained beaches or flooded communities.

 

What is lacking is a national collective leadership and the trade union, no longer a movement but rather a collection of 'federations' and 'joints' fails to provide that leadership, that direction: something it historically and traditionally did. Like the writer said struggle is now waged on the "Morning Editions' and on "First Up'' talk shows and in tete-a-tetes with embittered former Prime Ministers

 

Who made the first calls for independence in the '30's? Who organised to protest the abhorrent social conditions of the day? Who were the main organisers of the anti-apartheid movement in the region? Who led the calls for the nationalisation of our country's resources?

 

Yet today, the sons of the fathers seem to have abandoned the heritage. How much of the trade union agenda is about pressing social issues. How many leaders organise their members to challenge the status quo? Or is it that these 'leader/representatives' are more concerned in protecting their own statuses and are content to engage in ritual?

 

At the end of the day we have to struggle where we are, out of naked self interest or we will end up like the ruling class and their hangers on, desperately fashioning crime plan after crime plan, because the have-nots have articulated, not in words but in vicious deeds, that there will be no peace without equal rights. You see, the modern slave masters’ problem is that their children, and the plantation overseers' children cannot walk the 'plantations' in peace.Whether it is in the malls, in the fetes, in the streets, as James Baldwin wrote so aptly, we measure safety now in chains. Bolt the gate, bar the windows, chain the gas tank.

 

We need to re-vitalise the trade union movement. There are unions but no movement. As the Honourable Kwame Ture would say, we need to get organised. Our own workplaces, our own organisations, our community groups, our steelbands are good places to start. This call is not new. If we organise from the base, from the bottom up, things will begin to happen. Butler started in Church Joe Young and George Weekes started quietly in study groups. But we do not have the time they had. The struggle lies beneath our feet!

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