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posted 28 May 2013, 18:38 by Gerry Kangalee

 Professor Godfrey Vincent
Tuskegee University
College of Arts and Sciences
Department of History and Political Science
On May 30, 2013, the citizens of Trinidad and Tobago in general and the East Indian Community in particular will celebrate the 167 anniversary of the arrival of East Indians. The British colonial authorities, in search of a cheap labor supply, brought East Indians from the Indian Sub-continent to work as indentured servants on the sugar plantations. From 1845 until 1917 an estimated 130,000 East Indian laborers were brought to the island. 
This year, in celebration of this public holiday, the government has embarked on a major project to restore Nelson Island. The island, famous for several events, including the jailing of Uriah Butler and the 1970 Black Power detainees, served as a quarantine center (from 1875) for the East Indian indentured servants who began arriving in T&T in 1845. 
In its attempt to re-enact Indian Arrival Day, I do hope that the Ministry of Diversity and Social Integration uses a diverse population to portray this historical event and not use people at random. For example, the Ministry should include members of “White” Trinidad to portray the English colonial administration who administered the policy of quarantine. 
Included in this mix, should be individuals who portray the then British governor and members of the constabulary, who were White. Any attempt to use Africans as members of the constabulary is a distortion of history. Seeing that the government loves the idea of “multiculturalism,” then, White Trinidad should not be left out. 
Historical representation and accuracy is very important in the teaching of Public History, and it is my hope that the powers that be do not distort this segment of the History of Trinidad and Tobago. For generations of Trinidadians and Tobagoians who do not know the history of these islands, it is important that the Minister and his staff give a correct historical trajectory of this event.