A nation could have a revolutionary moment, but if the lessons learned from that moment are not adhered to and taught to younger generations, the cause and reasoning for that revolution could fade, and the indoctrinations of what oppressed people in the first place, could rise again.
These were the thoughts of Khafra Kambon, retired chairman of the Emancipation Support Committee and one of the leaders of the National Joint Action Committee (NJAC), during the black power movement of the 1970s. He spoke over the weekend at the National Library in Port of Spain Friday, on the black power movement which came to a head 50 years ago.
The day was also used for the opening of the Black Power revolution exhibition which included books and submissions which described the moment in TT history.
With that statement, he called for better education on local African and East Indian history, and the history of the plight of the African and East Indian in TT to be taught in schools, and commemorated.
“In the case of what was referred to the black power movement of 1970, it is called a revolution because the change in fact was revolutionary. Masses of people expressed their deep discontent with fundamental issues that they were faced with at the time.”
The discontent, Kambon said, led to organised resistance and uprising against the state and other institutions responsible for the conditions that society were by and large rejecting. A series of events leading up to 1970, created a change in the spirit and the thinking of the society and how we thought of our condition in society.
“And that is why when 1970 came along we had already had a build up in the consciousness of people.”
He said what people learned about themselves and their history was distorted and now TT doesn’t have books that correct these distortions. He recalled complaints over the publications of a schoolbook which highlighted Valentine’s day and Halloween as holidays but not Emancipation Day.
“I cannot believe that someone sat down and decided that they would not put Emancipation Day in the school books. I think it is just the way we think. I think we overlook the things that are important to some sections of society. These things I see as reversals of some of the gains of 1970.”
“In my opinion, and based on the information that I looked at the situation for Africans in 2020 and going forward will slide more if we don’t do anything about it.”
“In the Indian communities there are institutions to keep instilling a sense of pride and sense of knowledge of their history. The black community does not have that, and if we do not get it in the formal institutions we are at a very serious disadvantage,” Kambon said.