Sunday, July 16, 2006

Beware of the natives

by Attillah Springer
Trinidad Guardian
July 15, 2006

"We must bear in mind that imperialism is a world system—the last stage of capitalism—and it must be defeated in a world confrontation. The strategic end of this struggle should be the destruction of imperialism. Our share, the responsibility of the exploited and underdeveloped of the world, is to eliminate the foundations of imperialism: our oppressed nations, from where they extract capital, raw materials, technicians, and cheap labour, and to which they export new capital-instruments of domination-arms and all kinds of articles, thus submerging us in an absolute dependence."
Ernesto Che Guevara

Maybe I’m just a semiliterate native and all but I found the ostensibly mild-mannered Randall Overbey’s comments directed at Father Patrick rather threatening.
Granted, Father Patrick and Uncle Bas need to take the blame for exposing us to this most offensive and destructive kind of designer imperialism, but surely the more enlightened and allegedly compassionate multinational conquistadors should know better.In a meeting hosted by the American Chamber of Commerce, Mr Overbey, the Alcoa jefe, on July 7 said his project is going ahead, regardless.
His words, as quoted in the newspapers, jumped out at me because they had such a passive aggressive ring to them.
I’d really like to know the colour of Mr Overbey’s passport. And then I want to know if I could go to Texas and talk like I own it. If any of our own leaders or company executives could ever put God out of their thoughts to send thinly veiled threats to the dotish and patently impeachable Dubya.
As if because Alcoa has turned up on our shores with their trinkets we will lie down and give away all that we have and all that we are.
I hearing figures being pelt about. A few million here and a few million there. As if the people of Chatham who they say they will employ will ever see even the minutest decimal point of the millions they say the country stands to get.
But more and more people in T&T are realising and understanding that having a lot of money isn’t really doing anything for the state of the nation. More money just means more for state bureaucracy and bad planning to misappropriate. Bob sang, in the abundance of water, the fool is thirsty and a truer thing has never been said about the state of this here sweet T&T.
More to waste on concretisation while firemen in Belmont labour in the stench of an overflowing hospital morgue. More money to skyrocket inflation. More money to not spend on strengthening the lot of farmers. More money to denude our hills but don’t bother about dredging the silt-filled rivers.
What really pisses me off about these multinational, modern-day conquistadors is how absolutely contemptuous they still are of the natives.
Like we the dim-witted ones don’t understand the workings of the global capitalist economy.
I want these multinational conquistadors to know that contrary to the standards set by our esteemed politicians, Trinidadians/Tobagonians are not as stupid as you think.
While some of us will be dazzled by trinkets and think that our patrimony is disposable, others see through your glass beads.
Others are not impressed by concrete.
Others prefer green plants to smelter plants.
Others are willing, where the politicians have apparently lost their tongues, to get up and shout no in your ears.
In this season of emancipation, I try to rationalise this Randall Overbey character and I get the feeling that he has fully internalised his oppressor role.
And I guess I feel kind of sorry for him because, poor fellar, he is as caught up in this Babylon system as much as the rest of us. He can’t help but play the part of contemptuous overseer. He can’t help but crack his whip over Father Patrick’s back.
And for real, truth is like a monster in the eyes of the wicked and so he is bound to interpret concerns about aluminium smelters in T&T as “noise in the media.”
But the story of emancipation is not just one of the slave masters and slaves. And somewhere in my genetic memory, my ancestors are screaming out for justice. The story of my Black Carib blood is throw yourself from that there cliff rather than become a slave. And I can show you the names of all my Grenadian ancestors who were hanged for being part of Fedon’s rebellion.
I claim it now. That I come from a long line of resistance. The noises in my blood are noises of pure and simple defiance. Of ignorant semiliterate natives who were farse and out of place enough to question the trinkets. And to say that it was unacceptable. And to fight for their freedom. To give their lives for it. To foment a thought that still echoes across centuries that says that another way is possible and that we don’t always have to bend over and take the licks.
I want to warn these multinational conquistadors to read and learn from history, if they are so interested in investing in this land.
Because sometimes the natives strangled the invaders with their glass beads.


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