Where we stand‎ > ‎News & Comment‎ > ‎

WHO HAS FAILED? by Dr. Godfrey Vincent

posted 4 Aug 2012, 00:53 by Gerry Kangalee   [ updated 4 Aug 2012, 00:57 ]
Dr. Godfrey Vincent is Assistant Professor Tuskegee University Department of History and Political Science; former Part-time Assistant Professor of History at James Madison University, Harrisonburg, Virginia.
A former secondary school teacher, Dr. Vincent was a Community activist in Petit/Valley/ Diego Martin/Carenage/ St.James/Maraval area. He is a former member of the United Labour Front; Committee for Labour Solidarity (CLS) and Motion.
He is a former Vice-Chair Person of Youth Voice and former President of Simeon Road Superpan and Co-ordinator of CLS West. He is a former member of the Summit of Peoples' Organisations (SOPO).
He is a Rapso artiste (Brother Cymande) and a former Shop Steward of DC 37, Local 2054 and a delegate of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees.
Chief Servant Makandal Daaga claimed in a speech in honor of Emancipation (Trinidad Express, August 2, 2012), that “Afro-Trinis in trouble” because the young people don’t know anything about 1970.   

Is the chief servant for real? Are all young people lost? Are all Afro-Trinis lost? If any one has failed it is the Chief Servant. How has Daaga failed?
First, NJAC has lost its way and become part of the PP partnership. Rather than develop meaningful community programs that engage the youth, Daaga has sold his soul for an Ambassadorship. 

The reason why the young people don’t know anything about 1970 is because they were not taught. NJAC has abandoned its mission to create a new man and woman and promote people’s democracy to join right wing politicians who never supported NJAC or the 1970 Black Power Revolution. 
Second, NJAC has a great deal of material on all kinds of issues that they wrote in the past. Rather than digitize these materials and create a website to disseminate information about 1970, he chooses to chastise the young people. For example, NJAC has published a booklet on Privatization that attacked the NAR’s policy on the selling of State Enterprises. Today, Daaga supports a government that pursues a policy of privatization. 

Moreover, NJAC also published a booklet on the role of the IMF’s involvement in Trinidad and Tobago’s economy under PNM rule. While Daaga attacks the youths, he supports a government that is promoting IMF policies that are impacting the youth and their parents. 

Third, what program has Daaga put in place to help young Afro-Trinis who are “at risk”? For years, he lived in Laventille and has not opened a trade school, a counseling center or any meaningful activity that can give meaning to the lives of these young men. Why did Daaga not work with Despers to create programs for the youth? Why did Daaga not take control of the Basilon Street Trade Center to upgrade the skills of the youth? 

Fourth, Daaga and NJAC used many young men and women for their own personal gains. These young people devoted their time to the organization only to leave in frustration and dejection. They came into NJAC energized and committed to help transform the society but Daaga and his clique turned the organization into a cultural organization. 

Kamau Chow-Tai, who is now flourishing in Brooklyn, NY, is an example of a young person who left his personal career undone and devoted his youth to engage. He left the organization frustrated because Daaga and his clique never saw his creative talents. Today, Kamau is making a great contribution to the Brooklyn community by educating a number of young people at Medgar Evers College, CUNY. 

Chief Servant, the next time before you open your mouth to chastise and ‘beat up on” the young people, check yourself and be honest. The young Afro-Trinis are not the ones who have failed. It is you. 

Their mothers, fathers, uncles, aunts marched in the streets for change but you abandoned them. Some died in the hills for change and you abandoned them. Others were jailed and you abandoned them. Still others were blacklisted and unable to find jobs and you abandoned them. Moreover, others were terrorized by the Flying Squad on a daily basis and you abandoned them. Moreover, some became drug addicts and vagrants and you abandoned them. Now, tell me, who has failed whom?