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NORMAN WAS ONE OF THE FEW by Burton Sankeralli

posted 30 Apr 2014, 07:09 by Gerry Kangalee   [ updated 30 Apr 2014, 07:10 ]
It is fitting to be in this room between pictures of CLR James and Lloyd Best to remember Norman
Girvan. And in this context I am here wearing different hats.

I describe myself as a Caribbean philosopher. “Caribbean philosophy” is new as a named discipline but the Caribbean intellectual enterprise and philosophizing is long and has been carried out at many different levels.

Now, I think in generations. And we are here between CLR and Lloyd who I view as the beginning and end of a great Caribbean generation – intellectual, artistic, political – rich and deep. It is indeed the generation that led us to what we now term “independence”.

Norman (if I have my time line correct) was born a few years after Lloyd. For me this is significant because he was anchored in this rich Caribbean intellectual tradition and he had to carry it into the next generation.

The problem is that this was at a time when the vision was fading.

Not many embodied this great Caribbean vision – our tradition as a whole and particularly this key generation – Norman was one of the few. He was pivotal. This in a time when the Golden Age was largely forgotten.

I realize that this amnesia may be particularly applicable to Trinidad.

And so we come to my other hat.

I am president of the Trinidad and Tobago Bolivarian Solidarity Movement. Norman Girvan was without apology a friend of this Bolivarian Process.

Here is a revolution, a struggle for all our people’s liberation. Yet in this country – so close yet so far – this Process is demonized. Chavez and an entire continent’s fight of the poor against oppression is regularly trashed in our media. And here we are seven miles away from Venezuela. A short drop!

All this by people some of whom we would expect to know better. By those who have sold out. Drinking from the American trough. Willing tools of imperialism.

In this degenerate political space where we prefer to wallow in our own filth rather than fight for freedom, in this wasteland it strikes me that Norman the very embodiment of Jamaican dignity and class deliberately chose to side with the riff raff, the marginalized, the poor in their struggle against the forces of global imperialism.

Let there be no ambiguity here. Norman Girvan was committed to, stood and fought for Caribbean REVOLUTION. In Venezuela, in Cuba… in Haiti. He served the great Caribbean vision to the end.

I close be quoting a great Venezuelan, Ali Primera –

“Those whose death is in the cause of life we cannot say that they die. At the moment of their parting for them it is forbidden to cry”.

Travel well comrade.