Thanks to Guanaguanare for sharing so much of the wonderful Trinidadian and Venezuelan Christmas:
Archive for the 'Caribbean Matters' Category
Continuing from the first post on July 23rd of what was intended to be a series, the reader can look forward to more regular roundups of news and media commentary that feature or engage concepts of contemporary colonization and historical colonialism, as well as past and present decolonization efforts. As much as we would all like to be past colonialism, it still weighs very heavily and has left a deep imprint on many social, economic, and political situations around the globe.
Select extracts from each article are provided below.
TIMES ONLINE, Dec. 8, 2008
…The Zimbabwean government has continued to brush away the voices of criticism from abroad, often accusing Western governments of colonialism and of plotting to bring down the Zimbabwean state.
Sikhanyiso Ndlovu, the Information Minister, dismissed Mr Sarkozy’s remarks.
“Zimbabwe is a sovereign state with a president elected in accordance with the constitution of Zimbabwe,” said Mr Ndlovu.
“No foreign leader, regardless of how powerful they are, has the right to call on him to step down on their whim.”
by Chenjerai Cjitsaru, Association of Zimbabwe Journalists, Dec. 8, 2008
The attitude is that the entire Western bloc ought to atone for its brutal colonization of Africa by helping Zimbabwe to get out of the political, social and economic rut in which a group of selfish politicians has plunged it for the past nine years….
Even the United States has its dark past in Africa. In sending former African slaves back to Liberia from the US, it created a situation which pitted the new Africans against the indigenous people….
One country which today remains in turmoil had the misfortune of being colonized by the stiff upper-lipped, cold-blooded British, and the excitable, pasta-gobbling, trigger-happy Italians. Somalia has known little peace since independence in 1960. The Italians are generally acknowledged as having been the cruelest colonialists.
by Bashir Goth, ONLINE OPINION (Australia’s e-journal of social and political opinion), Nov. 25, 2008
this [the electoral victory of Obama] was something the world had never seen the like of it in living memory.
In Africa this was equal to the 1960s when the wind of change for freedom was blowing over the continent and Africans were breaking the chains of colonialism. Obama’s victory was embraced throughout the world as a victory of character over colour as was dreamt by Martin Luther King, a victory of human equality over bigotry and a success story that could only be written in America….
as an African who as a young student was imbibed with Africa’s post colonial nationalism, the literature of Negritude, the horrors of apartheid in South Africa and the last vestiges of colonialism in former Rhodesia, Mozambique and Angola, I can understand why Africa should rejoice in Obama’s victory.
But as the last echoes of the event faded away, I asked myself, why Africa should rejoice? Obama’s victory is an American victory; a victory that was conceived and delivered in America. Africans had celebrated as if an African dream leader had been elected for the continent; as if the African people would wake up to a new dawn where all their suffering and hardships would disappear.
by Sokari Ekine, Canadian Content, Dec. 5, 2008
The present conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) highlights the role of multinational and Western mining interests in helping to fuel conflict and inflict human rights violations in other African countries, including Nigeria, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Equatorial Guinea. But the scramble for Africa’s rich resource base is leading not only to conflict but, as a recent article on Tanzanian mining shows, also to a push towards re-colonization:
‘Multinational mining activities are introducing another era of colonialism in Tanzania as they hold major decisive positions on the use of prime land areas, and profit greatly from the mining of valuable mineral resources. In the recent past, Tanzanians have raised concerns on how the multinational mining companies plunder the natural resources at the expense of the local people. Because of the prevalent high rates of this pillaging of the national stock of natural resources, the citizenry have woken with an uproar to question the government’s stance on ensuring land security for its people, and benefits from their resources.’
by Mwalimu George Ngwane, AllAfrica.com, Dec. 5, 2008
On December 5, 1958, Kwame Nkrumah convened the first-ever pan African Congress in Africa specifically in his home soil of Accra-Ghana. The main objectives of that Congress were to “accelerate the liberation of Africa from imperialism and colonialism and to develop the feeling of one community among the peoples of Africa with the object of enhancing the emergence of a United States of Africa.”
Fifty years later, the continent’s search for a united Africa has been bedevilled by two kinds of leaderships; one which appeals to global sympathy and the other which arouses continental empathy.
Bala Usman, the late renowned Nigerian Political Scientist, defined globalisation as ‘an empty political cliché with a neo-colonial outfit’. His compatriot, Tade Akin Aina, defined globalisation as a new phase of capitalist expansion, focussed on exploitation, accumulation, inequality and polarisation.
In its most basic form, Senegalese writer, Demba Moussa Dembele, regards globalisation and structural adjustment programmes as being among the main instruments of the West’s recolonisation strategy of the African continent.
by Mengfei Chen, New University, Volume 42, Issue 9, Nov. 17, 2008
A few weeks back, someone defaced the Cecil Rhodes statue on campus. “Fuck you and your dreams of empire,” read the message scrawled sloppily in black paint on the granite base. Day after day, the words remained. Students barely spared it a glance on the way to class. The administration ignored it. Even the cleaning staff seemed to have better things to do. It was two full weeks before someone found the time to remove, with little ceremony, the graffiti.
At one time, the lack of interest would have surprised me. After all, it’s Africa. People here have more cause to care about empire than just about anyone else. But it didn’t. Among students at the University of Cape Town, a distinct apathy, on the surface at least, exists toward the colonial past. As I discovered at the beginning of the semester, most classes in the history department are filled with exchange students. The locals at Africa’s premier university take classes in accounting, management or biology. In a tight job market, it is wiser to acquire practical money-making skills for the future than to spend time contemplating a past that cannot be changed.
CARIBBEAN and SOUTH AMERICA
Nov. 13, 2008 (author unidentified)
After expressing his satisfaction with his visit to Cuba, [Ethiopia's Minister of State for Foreign Relations, Tekeda] Alemu stressed the important role played by Cuban soldiers in the 1970′s in the preservation of Ethiopia’s territorial integrity and stability.
He pointed out that Ethiopians will never forget Cuban internationalists or their participation in the fight for the national liberation against colonialism and neo-colonialism in the so-called Black Continent.
PRENSA LATINA, Dec. 5, 2008
Havana, Dec 5 (Prensa Latina) A summit meeting of the leaders of Cuba and the Caribbean Community (Caricom) countries will be held here next week aiming at building closer ties. The Dec 8 summit of the 15-nation grouping would also focus on “implementation of gradual reforms including encouragement to private-sector business initiatives”, a Caricom secretariat release said Wednesday….
The Caricom summit is expected to invite Cuban leader and former president Fidel Castro as a special guest in recognition of his contribution to the region’s fight against colonialism.
caribbean360.com, Dec. 1, 2008
HAVANA, Cuba, December 1, 2008 – Caribbean Community (CARICOM) leaders will honour former Cuban President Fidel Castro, at the upcoming third CARICOM-Cuba Summit, for his contributions to the region and Africa.
CARICOM Secretary General Edwin Carrington singled out Mr Castro’s aiding South African nations, like Namibia and Angola, in their fight against apartheid and colonialism, and for providing medical training to Caribbean countries.
EL UNIVERSAL (Caracas), Nov. 26, 2008
During his key speech at the opening session of the Third Extraordinary Summit of the Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas (ALBA), Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez asked the global super powers to respect the sovereignty of Latin American nations.
“We make an appeal to respect our sovereignty; to be allowed to rebuild ourselves after the disaster left by centuries of colonialism,” he said.
He lamented that the media of most countries accuse his government of meddling. “The biggest interventionist in the world is called the United States. I am accused of meddling when, for instance, everybody knows that the United States has been trying to destabilize the government of (Bolivian president) Evo Morales,” said Chávez, as quoted by state-run news agency ABN.
Dwight Garner, THE NEW YORK TIMES, Nov. 18, 2008
“For a successful immigrant writer to take such a position,” Mr. French continues, “was seen as a special kind of treason.”
But Mr. French quickly and adroitly steps back to give us a wide-angled and morally complicated view of how Mr. Naipaul, knighted in 1990 and named a Nobel laureate in 2001, made his way in the world, how his greatest books were conceived and composed, how he became what he became: genius, loner, sexual obsessive, ogre, snob, provocateur and profoundly influential and controversial thinker on subjects like colonialism and belief and unbelief.
Born into an Indian family in Trinidad in 1932, Vidiadhar Surajprasad Naipaul was raised in relative poverty. His hapless father, a sign painter and occasional journalist, was the inspiration for what may be Mr. Naipaul’s signal work of fiction, “A House for Mr. Biswas” (1961). Mr. Naipaul’s more animated mother, Mr. French suggests, inspired his literary voice: “bright, certain, robust, slightly mocking.”
A scholarship took Mr. Naipaul, at 18, to University College, Oxford, and he has lived in England ever since.
MIDDLE EAST and ASIA
by Farish A. Noor, THE NEW NATION (Bangladesh), Nov. 14, 2008
I recently had a conversation with an Indonesian political analyst in Singapore, where I am currently based.
In the course of our discussion about the state of Indonesian politics, he let slip a statement that I felt terribly uncomfortable with. While lamenting the state of Indonesia’s convoluted politics, he opined thus: “I wonder if Indonesia’s problems could be solved if we allowed a foreign government to run our country?”
Now, talk like this usually sends shivers up my spine. We will recall that up to the late 1990s, it even became fashionable to talk about the necessity for the re-colonisation of Africa. This sort of nonsense was all the rage in some American political magazines and journals, and of course this neo-colonial bile was dressed up in the discourse of altruism and universal humanism, as if the colonisation of any country was an altruistic act between fellow human concerned about the fate of others. Never mind the fact that the ones doing the colonising would be the same Western powers and the ones being colonised would be the same hapless denizens of the Third World.
MALAYSIA TODAY, Dec. 8, 2008
…the British proletariat became much better off than their compatriots in France or Germany.
This is where nationalism starts to come in. First, colonialism gave benefits to the English working class and improved their conditions. At about the time that Capital came out, British working class men received the vote (women did not get the vote until some decades later).
The vote gave the British working class an even greater share in the spoils of colonialism and imperialism…
MATHABA.net, Dec. 1, 2008
Colonialism sought to eliminate clerics from the country’s political scene with an aim of attaining its sinister goals but to no avail, he said.
The Victory of the Islamic Revolution is now regarded as the zenith of the enemies’ defeat in their campaign against religion and clerics, he said.
From one of Trinidad’s news dailies, Newsday, this very disappointing piece from Sunday, 26 October, 2008:
Sunday, October 26 2008
Members of the public in Laventille, Curepe, certain parts of the East and Central were jolted out of their beds early yesterday by the roaring sounds of two marine helicopters flying over their homes.
Some of the concerned persons even telephoned Sunday Newsday to ascertain if the United States Marine Corps were carrying out an exercise in the country.
One man said, “the noise from the engines was so powerful that I was awakened from sleep and when I looked out of my house the two helicopters were flying over my house, and I could see the US Marine officers inside,” he said.
Yesterday, Chief of Defence Staff Brigadier Edmund Dillon sought to clear the air on the matter.
He said members of the US Marine Corps are in Trinidad to carry out a number of humanitarian ventures. These include repairs to the Cyril Ross and St Jude’s Home for Girls.
The officers will also provide medical assistance to persons at the Arima and Couva hospitals.
On Monday, the US Marines will formally make public their mission in Trinidad [known] during a ceremony to mark their presence in the country.
This is obviously occurring with the consent of the regime of Prime Minister Patrick Manning of the ruling “People’s National Movement” (an ironic name if ever there was one). The presence of the Marines is of no benefit to Trinidad — as if this industrialized, petroleum exporting nation could not repair a school — and is instead done to facilitate deeper U.S. military penetration. This is a means of positioning U.S. forces closer to Venezuela, a mere seven miles away. Indeed, Manning has been trying to serve as a counterweight to Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez (Manning stands as a featherweight in comparison). Chavez has spent vast amounts on health and development programs in the Caribbean and provided discounted oil. Manning, unwilling to address poverty at home, has tried to create an illusion of alleviating it among his neighbours, as if in a desperate competition with Chavez. One can wonder whether Manning has been put up to this effort by the same forces now rearing their ugly heads in Marine helicopters.
In a situation of growing global economic crisis, there seems to be nothing less opportune than further imperial overstretch and increased militarization of the planet, save for the fact that U.S. regimes have committed themselves to war corporatism.
On the website of the Office of the Prime Minister, the only statement that exists for this date concerns the presence of “US Chiefs of Mission” for a HIV/AIDS conference. “Coincidentally,” in February of 2007 the U.S. military had a presence in Trinidad, to train 53 local military officers in HIV/AIDS awareness, as if local resources for the purposes did not exist.
Good luck to Trinidad’s anti-imperialist strugglers in getting rid of these dogs of war.
For more discussion online, see the Open Question at Yahoo!: “DO YOU THINK USA MARINES ARE IN TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO TO HELP TRINIDAD OR TO SPY ON VENEZUELA?“
CALL FOR PAPERS THE WALTER RODNEY CONFERENCE
UNIVERSITY OF THE WEST INDIES, MONA, JAMAICA
OCTOBER 16-18, 2008
The Institute of Caribbean Studies and the Centre for Caribbean Thought, in association with the Guild of Students, UWI, Mona and the Africana Studies Department, Brown University, invite abstracts for a conference, to be convened from October 16-18, 2008 at the University of the West Indies, Mona, Jamaica, to mark the 40th anniversary of the October 16, 1968 student protests resulting from the expulsion of Walter Rodney.
The Mona campus was cordoned off by the police and military for two weeks and staff and students engaged in self-searching discussions about the political situation and the character of the University itself and its mission. Revisiting this historic moment is particularly appropriate as we celebrate the 60th anniversary of the establishment of the University of the West Indies.
The impact of the Rodney protests was felt throughout the Caribbean region and especially at the UWI campuses in Trinidad and Barbados and at the University of Guyana. There were protests in London, the United States and elsewhere. These protests internationalised the local events and contributed to the emergence of newspapers such as Abeng in Jamaica, Moko in Trinidad and Ratoon in Guyana. The October 1968 events helped to stimulate the radicalisation of Caribbean politics and culture in the 1970s and challenged the Caribbean to consider alternative ways of thinking about and building egalitarian societies in the early years after political independence.
Walter Rodneyʼs intellectual and political work reinvigorated and refined the radical Pan-African tradition in the 1960ʼs and 70ʼs. His reflections on 1968 and some of his articles and speeches were published in 1969 in The Groundings With My Brothers. His return to the University of Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania in 1969 saw him continue his scholarly work on African history as well as his collaboration with liberation movements based in the Tanzanian capital. In 1972 his classic book How Europe Underdeveloped Africa appeared. Walter Rodney returned to Guyana in 1974 and was denied employment at the University of Guyana by the administration of Forbes Burnham. Rodney, one of the leaders of the Working Peopleʼs Alliance, was killed on June 13, 1980 when an explosive he thought was a walkie-talkie, given to him by a soldier in the Guyana Defence Force, detonated. His book, A History of the Guyanese Working People, 1881-1905, was published posthumously in 1981.
§ Walter Rodneyʼs Academic and Political Legacy
§ Pan-Africanism Revisited
§ Marxism in the Caribbean
§ Student Activism in the Contemporary Caribbean
§ Anti-colonial movements in the Caribbean
§ Black Power in the Caribbean
§ Gendering Black Power
§ Rastafari and Political Activism in Jamaica
§ Grassroots Journalism in the Caribbean
§ Oral Histories of the Rodney Protests
§ Literary Representations of Revolutionary Politics in the Caribbean
§ Rodney, Revolution and Popular Music
The themes outlined above are not exhaustive or mutually exclusive and are intended as a guide/focus for panels and papers. We invite submission of research paper abstracts by September 8, 2008. Submissions should include:
1) an abstract of not more than 300 words
2) a cover page with name, affiliation, contact information and short bio (75 words or less)
Email your submission to:
Tel: (876) 977-1951
Fax: (876) 977-3430
First, let me get straight to the announcement — please visit:
This is a “renewed” blog in terms of site redesign, renaming, and building on its precursor, The CAC Review, which first started in early 2003 on the kacike.org domain.(1)
It is new in some ways as well: over the past few months I have been rethinking, sometimes agonizing, over the slow and diminishing level of academic collaboration that in the end came to mark the 10 year existence of the Caribbean Amerindian Centrelink. One of the main problems was that I was the centre of all web updates and content management, and began to suffer “broker overload” which suffered from additional aggravating problems external to the network. Within the past year, email started to grow to oppressive heights, and in fact there are many messages from as long as 10 months ago that I have yet to answer, and probably never will. Many contributing authors would submit files loaded with problematic code, and then begin to grow increasingly anxious, even upset, when for many months I had not posted their works, and soon the demands became pointed. In the meantime, when communicating with collaborators, I rarely got responses, except from the usual reliable two or three persons. The rest would remain totally silent, as if being listed as an “editor” was all that mattered. In other respects, I felt that I was being pinned down and locked within a narrow niche, that I could not express myself freely, and that I would remain permanently “on call” thanks to my past (and remaining) research on the indigenous peoples of the Caribbean.
Most of all, however, I also grew increasingly uneasy and unhappy with the centrality of the non-indigenous academic, in an indigenous field. With so many indigenous Caribbean persons actively online, making excellent use of the web, and showing great sophistication and advanced knowledge of web design and coding, there was no real reason why I had to continue to be the broker/overlord through which information passed (and got stuck in a bottleneck).
Simple solutions to simple problems led to some very exciting results. For example, to not have to manually update a HTML directory of researchers (that link will expire soon) each time one wanted a new photo, or to correct an email link, or to alter a single word (or delete a duplicate “the”) I placed the responsibility for updates back with the researchers. That was the first step in creating the Indigenous Caribbean Network, which has now grown to large and dynamic networking proportions, far beyond a mere directory of researchers, and instead becoming a lively site for rich cultural, political, historical, and political discussion, not to mention audio-visual collaboration. I actually try to limit my presence there for fear of being sucked in for too long.
NING offered pages that members could update themselves, and that was the only reason I first chose NING, because I had no other means (i.e., coding knowledge or software) available for those listed on that old “directory of researchers” to update their own entries. I asked them to sign in to NING, roughly a third did, and the rest are “lost.” What really propelled the network was the onrush of indigenous Caribbean persons, and archaeologists, two of the main groups in the network. The ICN has become a living expression of what I would call “open anthropology.”
All of the above then really got the ball rolling. I realized that one of the problems was the limitations imposed by static HTML pages, administered by me, on domains I owned, using private accounts that I paid for. That worked to ensure that sites such as the Caribbean Amerindian Centrelink, and even KACIKE: The Journal of Caribbean Amerindian History and Anthropology, would remain firmly in my weakening hands, regardless of best intentions. At the same time I began to fool around with content management sites, and soon realized that I could use WORDPRESS to create such a site, and use GOOGLE PAGES to archive KACIKE, so that a new group of contributors could directly access those sites on their own, post as they wished, and nobody owned it.
Hence, slowly but surely, the Caribbean Amerindian Centrelink is mutating into the Indigenous Caribbean Center, while KACIKE is going defunct, at least until new editors wish to take control of it (and when they do, lack of HTML knowledge won’t be an excuse, and the site is free).
The renaming issue stems from exchanges that are too long to summarize here adequately. From 1998 doubts began to be aired about use of the term “Amerindian” (popular in Trinidad, and among a diminishing group in Guyana) that misled me to believe that the term was appropriate. For many instead, it is either too racial, too exclusive of miscegenated groups such as the Garifuna, or sounds too much like “American Indian.” “Aboriginal” sounded derived from Australia to many, despite the fact that it is also in official and common use in Canada. Indigenous was both wide and ambiguous, and now that all of the old efforts are being undone and unwoven, it seemed like an appropriate time to install the renaming.
And why “center” instead of “centre”? Because I am fed up with American readers writing to point out that I “misspelled center.” And what happened to “centrelink”? That is the funniest one: I came up with the name while in Trinidad at the same that the Australian government renamed its welfare agency Centrelink. For years we were getting massive numbers of visitors from Australia, and at one point, even centrelink staff email (how many BBQs were derailed by my silence in neglecting to point out that the intended recipient would never get their email?) When I once boasted that Australia was one of our top three sources of traffic, an Australian Centrelink administrator wrote to tell me that it was because our site sounded like their welfare agency, and had a more memorable URL (centrelink.org). My response was that it was sad to see how many Australians were in dire need of welfare.
End of story for now, I hope you feast your eyes on:
1. As a blog set up by an anthropologist, it predated all of today’s better known anthropology blogs. This is probably one of the reasons why I cannot understand some of the prima donna attitudes I have encountered on some of the other blogs, very few instances to be fair, and possibly on only one of those blogs. In a field with so little room for anything to appear even remotely innovative, I guess it should not be a big surprise that some will rush to claim mastery of the newest toy. What The CAC Review was not, however, was an insular anthropology blog locked into discoursing with itself. It began and continues as collaborative work between academic and non-academic specialists.