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ERIC WHO? By Rae Samuel

posted 3 Apr 2017, 07:55 by Gerry Kangalee
Image result for eric williamsHard to imagine for a generation that feared if Eric Williams died Trinidad and Tobago would wither and die but March 29th marked 36th anniversary of his death: some say at the hands and marching feet of the labour movement especially the teachers, i.e. TTUTA, who took him on in their struggle for one union for teachers.

Remember: to establish TTUTA the teachers had to over throw the PSA .and Trinidad and Tobago Teachers Union whom Williams legislated were the representatives of teachers. He did the same with the cane farmers who by law were represented by The Trinidad Islandwide Cane Farmers Association. In each case these unions were led by PNM minions namely James Manswell, St. Elmo Gopaul and Norman Girwar. It took a united labour movement, not a JTUM, to change this, which it did.

I always felt that when Williams saw the children of his loyal “middle class” howling for "Deafy to go'' his heart must have sunk. This was not the future he imagined would come out of their “school bags'' as he prophesised at Independence 1962, especially after the generation he spoke to at Independence led a massive youth revolt against his regime in 1970. Ironically, almost to the day 36 years later, the modern TTUTA generation is howling for the head of the Minister of Education, a former TTUTA leader, who has steeped himself in the same cauldron that consumed the aforementioned Manswell, Gopaul and Girwar. Celebration time?

Last year I wrote in apiece entitled Hearing Aids, False Teeth and Gamecocks that the 50th anniversary of the founding of the PNM was equally low keyed. A display was mounted not at Balisier House but at the foyer of the NALIS building on Abercromby Street. Who would have imagined that the legacy of the party 'that is great and will prevail' could be represented in a room barely 15x20 feet?

I have asked persons what is the institutional memory of Dr. Williams. For example: Butler symbolises labour, Frank Worrell represented and transcended West Indian cricket, Claudia Jones/Elma Francois/Audrey Jeffers women's leadership in politics, social welfare, trade union struggle, Sparrow in calypso. What is Williams' institutional memory? And why is it not celebrated in a similar way? Your guess is a good as mine, if not better.

Maybe part of the indifference, if not oblivion, is linked to what is happening in Crown Trace and Maraval and Arima. Or what is happening and not happening in the schools, prisons, hospitals and centres of production. Coming out of the social constructs the Party has created, some have imagined that commemorations, efforts at national celebrations might turn into fiascos if not fights, given that the Father of the Nation, allegedly, boasted of keeping his children, Oil and Sugar, apart.

All is not lost however for the loyalists. Sometime in the far future a Cudjoe or a Ryan will probably invent a more palatable version of the Doc. It is called 'revisionism.'