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The “Four Daagas” by Dr. Godfey Vincent

posted 26 Aug 2016, 09:22 by Gerry Kangalee
Before I delve into the essay on Makandal Daaga, I send condolences to the Daaga family and NJAC organization. I can’t claim to know the former leader of NJAC. My only interaction with him was in 2009 when I visited Trinidad to conduct Field research for my dissertation on the OWTU.

Originally, Daaga had agreed to grant an interview which Carolyn Sampson had worked so hard to set up. On the day in question, Daaga refused the request and he began to ramble some nonsense about the elections. I left the Duke street headquarters of NJAC very disappointed that I didn’t get the interview because I knew Dagga and George Weekes had developed a close relationship during the hey days of the 1970 Black Power Revolution.

Even though I was disappointed, I felt rather saddened by the news I received from my good friend (a former NJAC official) that NJAC received money from the PP to join them to contest the General election. It is in this context that I have entitled the essay The “Four Daagas” because Daaga’s life and contribution should be placed in different time periods and contexts: Dagga as Geddes Granger, Dagga as Makandal Daaga, Dagga as the Maximum leader and Daaga as the sold out leader.

From my perspective, it is critical that we engage in a discourse on the contribution of Daaga by examining the NJAC archives, and manuscripts located nationally, regionally, and globally. Only when historians begin to mine these documents we will have a clear picture of Dagga’s contribution to Trinidad and Tobago. As a trained historian, I reject the “Great Man theory” that places heroes at the centre of history.

This theory states, “… history can be largely explained by the impact of "great men", or heroes, highly influential individuals who, due to their personal, intelligence, wisdom, or political skill utilized their power in a way that had a decisive historical impact.”

I write from the perspective of “History from Below” and argue that it is the people who are in the vanguard of any revolutionary movement. While I agree that leaders arise to speak on behalf of the movement, often, their vision is diametrically opposed to that of the people they purport to lead.

Therefore, let us all dismiss the emotional talk in the streets that suggest Daaga deserved the perks he received from the PP government. If that is the case, then, we can make the case for other leaders who once spouted revolutionary rhetoric and became willing agents of the system that they once opposed.

With the passage of time, and with the unearthing of more historical evidence, let us as historians engage in meaningful discourse on Daaga from different perspectives and write a body of work that will add to the historiography of the 1970 Black Power Revolution. Farewell Daaga, you played your part. Now, let the historians write about the “Four Daagas".