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posted 15 Oct 2016, 09:10 by Gerry Kangalee   [ updated 15 Oct 2016, 09:41 ]
Thursday before the budget, while avoiding the heavy, abrupt rains in downtown Port of Spain (no, not Hurricane Matthew rains. God is a Trini and would not give us a hurricane and the Budget so closely. Colm Imbert and a hurricane in one week? We go dead!), I
wandered into the NALIS library to re-visit the "Fidel-90th'' photo exhibition which was just about to close after a 2 week run.

Yes our media department had covered the event but what many folks do not realise is that when you are covering an event you cannot be a spectator or listener. You are busy setting up a shot. Sometimes friends ask after a Panorama "How this or that band sound?" You cannot give an answer. In much the same way one sees Richard Thompson or Michelle Ahye cross the line through one's lens. West Indian cricket today? You could stay home and write the story while looking at "Bazoodee" and still get the scores right.

Next door in the main atrium on the first floor is an exhibition on the PNM’s 50th anniversary. The displays are proximate. Please note that I did not say 'in close proximity' or that they were almost 'joined together'. To me proximity infers 'closeness' as joined suggests 'together/togetherness'. Guess I will never work as a morning talk show host. People would call the station and say that I was/am old and forgetful, leaving out redundancies. MATT might not even come near me.

I could not tell when the PNM exhibition was launched or for how long it will run? 50 years? Oh gawd man! We were not invited although ''some of my best friends are P.N.M''. (Remember that old adage about white folk speaking of 'Negroes'?)

The Cuban and Venezuelan delegations graciously invite us to events as do the kind staff at NALIS. We even get invitations from the Ministry of Labour and the Industrial Court. Conditions apply though in the case of the latter/s. ''Could you send us a photo please?" We do not mind since the staff are overwhelmingly courteous and good looking, leaving much of the JTUM far behind in both respects…by LEAPs and bounds.

I saw this letter on display: "Someone recently lamented the fact that the government hadn't the money to satisfy our educational needs. This is just a truth half spoken. The other truth is that Government have got to find the money. We simply cannot afford not to find it.''

The document is a draft of a speech typed and presented to the then Minister of Education, Mr. John Donaldson senior, who died soon after in a vehicular accident on the Mc Bean stretch. There are corrections in pen. Mr. Donaldson was speaking at the formal opening of the Moravian school, Gloster Lodge Road, Tuesday 12th November 1957.

Bhadase Sagan Maraj
Sat's father- in-law. Bhadase Sagan Maraj, as leader of the Maha Sabha, would have been making similar efforts on behalf of the Hindu community, no doubt, and not thinking of 'panty lines'. Barbara B. was probably learning to jump rope and wrap heads. Comrades in the labour movement had already been infected by the virus of communism.

Hell, in those days we walked to school and took Phensic for everything from toothache to running 
Image result for advertisement phensicnose. Panadol had not been invented yet and George Weekes and Joe Young would ride the bus to San Fernando and plot against John Rojas. Those were the days of voluminous 'can-cans' and 'crinolines' and cotton 'bloomers' so nobody was going to see much anyway. No matter how much or hard they looked.

Like you, I thought that this Minister, whose youthful looking photo appears in the exhibition, would not have lasted a day in the present Cabinet espousing such heresy. It is important to note, dear reader, that there were many progressive nationalist minded people in the PNM leadership then who sought to make everyday life better in educational and employment spheres. That was the era when Mr. Carlton Comma developed library services, John Donaldson Senior developed education and Isabel Teshea expanded housing..

A few months ago a veteran political activist told us it was primarily Ms. Teshea who moved the ordinary working folk 'from latrines to indoor plumbing'. Please please, let us focus: What you mean "Thank God her first name was Isabel and not Marlene or Jearlean?"

I may have missed them but I did not see much of the leading PNM women featured, though the Women's League, or "Fat Ass Brigade'' as journalist Chokolingo called them, was a powerful arm of 
Image result for clr james and eric williamsthe organisation. Not surprisingly, there was little of C.L.R. James. I saw 2 books by him re PNM but no prominent photos. To speak of PNM in those days and overlook the contributions of Nello is akin to leaving out VIv Richards’s or Gordon Greenidge's contributions to West Indian cricket between 1975 and 1990.

But James always knew and said his legacy was not going to rest upon the PNM. In his book, "PNM go forward'' he foresaw/forewarned where petty bourgeoisie politics would take the PNM and divorce it from the people.

There is a collection of speeches or body of work outlining the history of the organisation's history in nation building. To illustrate: Butler's legacy is the development and consolidation of organised labour. Bhadase Sagan Maraj's was the efforts towards upliftment of the Hindu community. Audrey Jeffers is associated with social work for the benefit of the under-privileged. To speak of Frank Worrell is to speak of the link between West Indian nationalism and cricket. NJAC and the soldiers who mutinied under Raffique Shah's and Rex La Salle's leadership saved us from becoming a banana military republic

History seems to suggest that the People's National Movement made far too much effort to put time back in a bottle and hold the
From left: Eric Williams, Errol Mahabir (centre); Kamal Mohammed
progressive forces back as it settled into a neo-colonial mode. Missing also were heroic portraits of Kamaluddin Mohammed, Dr. Winston Mahabir and Errol Mahabir. These were East Indians who were front line leaders in the PNM, a predominantly African led and based organisation..'Charch' as Kamal was called was seen as Eric Williams's alter everything.

Even Eric Williams's legendary hearing aid was on display. Is it working? Don't know. It is grey and about the size of a half pack of cigarettes. There are 4 briefcases, 2 belonging to Williams and one each to Donaldson and George Chambers. There is also a pair of Patrick Manning's glasses. I could not tell the
Francis Prevatt, former PNM chairman and John O'Halloran, former PNM government minister.They both fled T&T during the 1980s to escape charges of corruption
significance of this item. False teeth? Nope, sorry or if they are/were displayed I missed them as I did photos of Johnny O'Halloran or any of his gamecocks

But the exhibition is still open and as with any exhibition one cannot see all in one day, even one as small as this which is supposed to represent 50 years of existence. Maybe it is because of belt tightening and the recession?