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posted 27 May 2013, 20:39 by Gerry Kangalee
Cecil Paul wrote the following letter to the editor of the Express newspaper: Your Sunday Express of May 26, 2013 showed a picture headed “Indian Arrival Lesson". In the picture, which depicted a Re-Enactment of Indian Arrival, a person who appeared to be an African policeman is seen pointing a gun at Indian indentured labourers as he ushered them onto Nelson Island. 

This function (as your paper indicated) was hosted by the Ministry of National Diversity and Social Integration and was directed by Victor Edwards and formed part of Indian Arrival Celebrations held on the Friday before. 

I hope you print this letter so that Victor Edwards and the Ministry involved will reflect on this erroneous and dangerous part of the 2013 re-enactment. The image of an African constable ushering female indentured labourers to commence their term of what was another form of slavery can do immense damage to the already strained relationship between Indian and African groups in the country. 

The picture can also portray an image that can stir up antagonism between the two major and majority groups in the country as the African looking constable can be viewed as being a military enforcer of the Colonial Government in the evils of Indian indentureship when there are no historical accounts that I have read which state that Africans helped the British enforce the first landing of indentures. 

The historical records state that Slavery in fact really ended in 1838 (after four years of apprenticeship was enforced in 1834 by the British). Indentureship began in 1845. I have read of no African constables during the seven year period of 1838 to 1845. So why is this depiction of this historical event portraying an African constable when this was never portrayed before?   

What message is the Ministry of National Diversity and Social Integration sending to our two major groups? Are they saying the Afro Trinbagonians were enforcers for Indian Indentureship? Is this not only inaccurate and misleading but divisive and malicious? Does this false depiction not help to create Separation instead of Integration? Is this a political ploy to consolidate ethnic voting patterns? If this is so, then we have reached a new low in politics and employing an extremely dangerous tactic - one which we will regret. My historical knowledge indicates that the constable would have been an English enforcer not an African. 

I view this historical inaccuracy as very dangerous indeed and a tool of disunity. Mr. Victor Edwards and the Ministry of National Diversity and Social Integration need to inform the population which historical record indicates that African constables were enforcers when the first group of Indian Indentured Labourers arrived in Trinidad, failing which they need to apologize to the population and set the records right. 
Cecil Paul,
55 Campo Street,
San Juan.