Notes from a small island
A weblog by Jonathan Ali

Wednesday, March 08, 2006  

Two pieces in today's Express on last Sunday's lecture and presentation on the late actor, singer and cultural activist, Edric Connor, the last item of the UWI 25th Anniversary Conference on West Indian Literature. One is a feature by Michael Mondezie; the other comes from George John, in his column.

The tribute to Connor was put together by calypso historian Ray Funk and lecturer in film, Bruce Paddington. According to George John:

It has taken two men, neither of them "Trini to the bone" but who have developed a great love and deep respect for our accomplishments in the arts and, of course, for the artistes themselves, to rescue the name, Connor, and the artist's fame from oblivion and to provide us with this enthralling commentary.

The phrase "Trini to the bone", of course, comes from the David Rudder and Carl Jacobs calypso duet of the same name, an extremely popular exercise in emigrant patriotism from some years ago that led to practically everyone who considered themselves patriotic citizens declaring that they were, indeed, all Trinis to the bone.

I assume what John means by his description of Funk and Paddington as not being Trini to the bone is that they are not Trinidad born. (If it is he thinks they are not Trinidadian, well as far as Funk, an American, is concerned, he's right. Paddington, however, is a Trinidadian citizen.)

Well, if that's what he meant--that they aren't native Trinidadians--he should have just said that. As much I don't care for the "Trini to the bone" concept (I find it rather hollow), if we are going to use it, let's not be exclusive.

Why should not being native born mark one apart from the Trini born among us who have the nation's welfare at heart? Not only are we an immigrant society, this crucible of civilisations that is the Caribbean, all of us if you scale our family trees having come, in various combinations and at different times, from Africa, Europe, Asia--everywhere but here--not only that, but so many of these "foreigners" have proven time and again to be more genuinely concerned for this country and its culture, environment and society than us natives.

Simply put, they're more Trini to the bone than many of us Trinis. And if that's unfortunate, it's our fault. We shouldn't seek to deny Ray Funk and Bruce Paddington and others like them the recognition for their work that they deserve simply because they weren't born here.

posted by Jonathan | 8:58 AM 0 comments


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