Month: August 2012

LettersToLizzie#16 We IS Trini

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Permission pls, yuh Majesty, to mash up yuh language, to break up the Queen’s English ’cause We IS Trini. True, it would be another 50 years before your Great Britain would understand how We, the many, can become a singular Trini verb. We is Trini, free to write and sing in we own diverse idioms. In fifty years, Lizzie, we would be helping you to become one; we will show you, how, out of many disparate people, you too can create one nation, because We IS Trini, Lizzie. I hoist meh national flag to you ….details of the feting and the liming in Letters to Lizzzie coming to a bookshop near you, soon… krisrampersadglobal books

LettersToLizzie15 Out With the Old In With?

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Dear Lizzie, 

I am sitting here at the Premier’s desk at White Hall penning what I will say to my people tonight as we claim this our National Coat of Arms; as we hoist this red white and black flag for the first time. I am listening to what would become our National Anthem, with boundless faith; what would I say? Almost like a true Trini, you couldn’t come, so you sent your sister.  Do you feel the significance of this day, the burden of responsibility; the springboard of hope….Read all about it in Letters To Lizzie, coming soon… about Letters to Lizzie and much more

LettersToLizzie#14Rainy Season Washout

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Dear Lizzie,

I felt such a sense of accomplishment today as I put out the garbage. For 50 years it had accumulated not in corners and creases but in films of growing thickness that were beginning to suffocate, and that, of course, after more than two centuries of build up of other muck, untl the rains came in torrents and began, drop by drop to wash away ….only a matter of time when Letters to Lizzie will be in a bookshop near you see   

Diversity and culture of Ministries

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(Part II)

Whereas we can learn a thing or two from the structures and systems the developed world has evolved for arts infrastructure, education, support and patronage, when it comes to culture, and indeed multiculturalism, few, if any, can hold a candle to us. Our confidence in this fact that usually only surfaces through chest-thumping pierrot grenades or robber-type talk have not found full expression because of justifiable dissatisfaction with the state of the arts, and the unholy alignment of arts and culture in our governance system.

Just as growth and development of our arts and recognition of their universality have been overshadowed in the jostle for ethnic and cultural space, our appreciation and confidence in the diversity and multiculturalism we have evolved since we joined the indigenous peoples in this land have been curtailed from full independent flight.

The former Minister of Arts and Multiculturalism, during our sitting at the international heritage meeting in Bali last December, asked my opinion on the place of legislation in culture, reflecting the doubts all his predecessors have shown on this subject—similar to the question posed from the global floor to the now erstwhile T&T UN ambassador, oblivious to the new international awakening and probing on this subject.

This unease that has plagued culture ministries of yore stem from nervousness about legislation and policy pronouncements on our culture. In general definition, culture is “our way of life” that includes, but is not contained in, just the arts of music, dance, performance, painting etc to include elements as cuisine, fashion, walk, talk, religious practices—any number of traits that identify a people who have evolved in a particular environment. I have presented extensively abroad (Sans Humanite Sans Policy in relation to the Carnival Creative Arts (Turkey); Trini Lime Time: Attitudes to Cultural Policy in Rebel Cultures (France) among them—on the rebel nature of our cultural heritage and beliefs held, even by some judges, that the law has no place in culture.

The roots and raison d’etre of our cultural evolution—defying explorers, buccaneers, slave masters, police, schoolmasters, privateers, any authority figure—as the also erstwhile Commissioner Dwayne Gibbs would have oh too painfully, shockingly, recently discovered—inhibits surrender to any (even just perceived) impositions of structure, rules/codes.

The inability of our governance to date to grasp this; its significance; the need to fully appreciate and understand it, is couched in the last regime’s “situational analysis” on culture on the Vision 2020 Committee Report:
• Attitudes of selfishness, lawlessness, greed, dishonesty, indifference to others.
• Violent manifestations in the home, community, workplace, language of leadership, music.
• Tendency to describe ourselves through notorious deeds.
• Negative “languaging” of our space.

The visionaries therein seemed oblivious to their own negative imaging of what is essentially our sense of freedom and the inherent liberating effect this has had on our culture that is quintessential to who and what we are. Furthermore, the drive to urbanise our cultures and make them “economically viable” (duh?), through instruments like the European Union-Cariforum Economic Partnership Agreement, for instance, loses its sense of direction about the nature of culture in a society in mad-hatter pursuit of the almighty dollar.

Herein is the national, regional, international contexts for a Ministry of Diversity and Social Inclusion which itself incorporates the multiculturalism mandate—hence my recommendation that this word be dropped and a Ministry of the Arts exist in its own right, just as a Ministry of Multiculturalism/Diversity and Social Inclusion can exist in its own right; as other appendages to the once Ministry of Arts and Culture—Sports, Women/Gender, Community/Social Affairs et al—have evolved identities and mandates of their own towards a more people-centred approach to governance.

In a culture-centred approach to development, there is more than enough for such an infrastructure with a diversity mandate to: harness our substantial experiences of multiculturalism for the benefit of a world reeling from escalating impacts of new migrations; build confidence in this experience and knowledge to benefit us and the international community; reverse the hurts and dissatisfaction of having our cultural selves forcefitted into the corsets of alien governance models and administrations. It seems opportune, then, that in this the jubilee year of self-rule, we begin to redress this so every creed and race can find an equal place in a substantive and pragmatic way.

Liberating the Arts from Culture

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The creation of a Ministry of Diversity and Social Inclusion in the recent realignment of portfolios of ministers caught many, including it seems the named officeholder, somewhat agape. This, alongside a Ministry of the Arts and Multiculturalism, has justifiably created some room for confusion. Though much of the criticisms that have greeted the advent of these two ministries to date have hardly gone beyond mere soundings of bafflement and bewilderment, there are indeed some opaque areas that can benefit from better streamlining. “Multiculturalism and diversity” are reflections of each other, while “arts and multiculturalism” has a different resonance to the stock association of “arts and culture.” If one was to flash back a bit, since the 2010 announcement of Cabinet portfolios, there was an uneasiness surrounding the appending of “multi” to a ministry that has traditionally carried the title of “culture” and to which was often appended “arts.” A Ministry of the Arts and Multiculturalism was a novelty to us. It was a title that did not sit well, even with the previous officeholder of the ministerial portfolio of Arts and Multiculturalism himself one who would be defined as an artist and a cultural practitioner. 
Yet, having multiculturalism as a ministerial portfolio was highly commended by some societies still coming to terms with their multiculturalism, and where such a portfolio is becoming a norm. 
Whether in departments/divisions/ministries of governments, policy making and administration units—corporations as well—this has been a response of the international community to a phenomenon arising from globalisation, heightened movements and migrations of people with easier access to travel, all of which are changing the ethnic and cultural composition of populations and overturning age-old status quos. To flash back to even earlier times, in T&T, the portfolio of arts and culture has been traditionally unquestioningly lumped together since self-government, and, in previous reincarnations, has also been appended to portfolios of women, youth, sport, community/social development and various other perceived “soft” portfolios. In recent times, societies as Canada, Australia and Great Britain that have appended culture/multiculturalism to their arts administration portfolios are recognising the challenge of this combination. T&T has a long history, experiences of dysfunctionality in this, too, except we have not tried to analyse nor learn from them. 
It is borne out in the loud noises that often emanate from various quarters, interest groups, districts, ethnicities and cultural corners surrounding inefficiencies and patronising approaches to our arts and culture and perceived lack of delivery of successive Ministries of Arts and Culture—a name which itself presupposes a common national culture in a society where has coalesced various cultural streams and strands. The nervous unease that has plagued cultural governance since self-government, and stymied cultural development—eg still no cultural policy though it has been 47 years in the making; or the regular distress about “whey pan dey;” laments over the lack of promotion of the Carnival arts—stem from lack of clarity in conceptualising and visioning the specific roles of the arts in development and the roles of our cultures in development. No one can deny that our arts have suffered from competition for cultural space, and in the competition for ethnic space. Alignment of the arts to ethnicity has prohibited their blossoming and restricted recognition of their universal value and universal appeal.
If liberated from culture or multiculturalism, the arts, which has been deprived, shrouded in, and overshadowed by the politicisation of culture over the decades, can be allowed to blossom in their own right and take advantage of the range of opportunities for their development into viable creative industries. It will also help to accentuate their intrinsic aesthetics for recognition beyond parochial ethnic or cultural contexts, for their inherent universal values. Separation of the arts from the culture portfolio can allow T&T arts, whether drawn from ancestral communities or fashioned from our multicultural milieu—from the classical arts to our indigenous arts—to receive the kind of substantive focus of which they have so far been deprived and from which has stemmed the sense of disconnect and the continuous cries of discontent, of lack of appreciation and of lack of support. A Ministry of Arts can exist in its own and substantive right, and allow for a clearer vision of the role of a Ministry of Diversity and Social Inclusion.  

Launch of LiTTscapes ADDRESS BY SENATOR DR. BHOENDRADATT TEWARIE Minister of Planning and Sustainable Development

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Minister of Planning and Sustainable Development
Chairman 50THAnniversary Of
Independence Interministerial Committee
Dr. Kris Rampersad, Friends and Associates
Special Jubilee Commemorative Book Launch of LiTTscapes
August 4, 2012
50th logo.JPGWhite Hall, Queen’s Park Savannah West
Ÿ     Cabinet Colleagues
Ÿ     Members of the Diplomatic Corp
o   High Commissioner to India
o   High Commissioner to Canada
Ÿ     Permanent Secretaries
Ÿ     Head of UNDP (Acting) – Harry Morand
Ÿ     Guests of Honour
o   Michael Antony
o   Earl Lovelace
Ÿ     All other distinguished guests
Ÿ     Ladies and Gentlemen

This book derives out of the literature of Trinidad and Tobago and the inspiration that our land, our people, our culture and our heritage have provided to our writers.  What has inspired them and what has given context to the work of writers of Trinidad and Tobago have in turn inspired this book which is a valuable addition to our literature and meaningful guide to our literature and our literary landscape.  This is a book worth reading.  It is a book worth having.
This book can be a stimulus to readers and reading, an encouragement to literacy and literacy development, to empowerment of our people and our culture and can facilitate business and employment.
It also demonstrates how one publication can make a big difference to the publishing industry and be a bridge to other sectors of the creative economy and the wider economy as well.  One book such as this one can involve 100 people in various activities – printing, research, writing, photography, design, marketing, administration, quality control, copy editing, proof reading, IT services, legal/copyright, advisory services.
Event surrounding the launch – art, craft, banners, t-shirt, drama, staging, organizing, managing, light sound cameras, music, after event cleaning and other requirements.
Linkages – music, film, animation, design, tourism, education, community development, product development related to tourism, tours, knowledge services.
The people of this country have not yet begun to appreciate the extent to which our culture, our heritage and our creative products are linked to the creation of a knowledge economy to the expansion of dimensions of the services sector, to economic diversification and to mind intensive and labour intensive industries that are homegrown and have international appeal and global interest.’
The Government of Trinidad and Tobago is happy to support the publication of this book LiTTscapes – focused on landscapes of fiction in Trinidad and Tobago as a book worthy of publication at time of celebration of our 50th Anniversary of Independence.
The Government of Trinidad and Tobago has supported two other publications – one by Hansib covering the evolution of our country over the last fifty years and looking to the future and the other by First Magazine which takes a look at life, culture and development in Trinidad and Tobago today.  The Government also supported the Bocas Literary Festival.
We are pleased to be associated with these publications and we are pleased with the publication of LiTTscapes which is a totally local effort from start to finish.
LiTTscapes is a wonderful book to introduce young people to literature and to help them to discover their country.  It is also a great introduction of Trinidad and Tobago and our literary output and cultural heritage to the rest of the world.  There is a lot of potential in this little book.
I am sorry that I was not able to make the literary this afternoon.  But given the nature of this book literary tours are a natural and I am sure that several tours will be crafted with positive impact.
The celebration of fifty years of Independence has been a good opportunity for reflection and celebration of ourselves and a good opportunity too to think about our future and prospects for that future.
We have created so much in this country.  Not just calypso and chutney and soca; not just steelpan and steel orchestras and great athletes, all of which we continue to share with the world; but we have also given the world great writers, thinkers, intellectuals and creative artists.
So many of you are present here today and so many of our creative citizens are living abroad.  It is wonderful to be launching a book which is derived from what so many have created and which is likely to be stimulus to other imaginative possibilities.
We must begin to truly cherish who we are and what we have been able to create.  We must begin to believe more deeply in our people and to have stronger faith in what we can do in the future.  We must learn to respect ourselves and each other in a way that strengthens our dignity as a people and we must develop the bigheartedness to celebrate the achievements and victories of others and cultivate the humility to share our own achievements and triumphs.
Let us together celebrate this effort of Dr. Kris Rampersad and the publication of LiTTscapes.  It celebrates our literary genius and our great country, which in spite of our perpetual complaints, is a source of inspiration to all of us.


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Dear Lizzie The clock ticks, tick toc, my grandfather’s or my own newborn one? In a matter of days, they say, I will be born. So what am I now, the unborn? If not a nation, a notion? Is my millennia of existence to evaporate the moment I emerge from your shadow, my birth declared …while my grandfather’s clock tic tocks …yeahLettersToLizzie the book overshadowed by LiTTscapes – Landscapes of Fiction from Trinidad and Tobago only temporarily…soon you too will celebrate it’s birthday!