ON Emancipation Day, Haiti, land of the only successful slave revolt in history, was slipping further into anarchy.
Fed up of ole talk and no action, Kenya—7,600 miles away!—was mobilising an international force to seek to bring peace to the crime-ravaged Caricom country.
Trinidad and Tobago, which recently hosted a hot-air Caricom 50th anniversary conference, stayed mum on the worsening crisis. So too did leaders of other Caricom territories who were all bleeding hearts during the Port of Spain talks.
The United States is currently pulling its citizens from Haiti.
United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has termed the country “a living nightmare”, with lynchings, kidnappings, sexual assaults, rampant poverty and widespread diseases.
But not a drum was heard, not a funeral note, at T&T’s Emancipation Day observances.
Also, on Emancipation Day, Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley slammed ghost objectors to reparations (there are no known opponents!) against the backdrop of his administration’s gross failure on the matter.
When he was quizzed on T&T’s Reparations Committee in Parliament a few weeks ago, Rowley sounded perplexed about its current standing.
That prompted a critical response from the former head of the committee, a respected citizen. He said the Prime Minister “continues to disrespect the ongoing movement towards reparations for African enslavement and native genocide”.
Further, the United Nations-designated International Decade of People of African Descent ends next year, and prompts the searching question: how has T&T delivered on the prescribed mandate?
Several local commentators, including Prof Selwyn Cudjoe, have argued that the circumstances of Afro-Trinis have deteriorated in recent years.
Then, Rowley opted for identity politics in criticising King Charles.
The British monarch has recently shown movement on the issue; the King takes the matter “profoundly seriously”, Buckingham Palace said a couple of months ago.
While that is not good enough, there has lately been some assistance for descendants of former slaves in the Caribbean. T&T, which has shown no leadership on the matter, has been left out of the Caribbean loop.
The British Guardian newspaper, whose owners are linked to slavery, has led a massive investigation which induced belated acts of conscience. For example, an aristocratic British family gave money to the current generation of some 1,000 former slaves in Grenada. The family also apologised, saying: “We repudiate our ancestors’ involvement.”
That, of course, is not nearly enough atonement for the monstrous crime of chattel slavery. But it is more than what is taking place in Trinidad and Tobago, which is stalled in official inefficiency and political one-upmanship.