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Everything Related to the Steelpan Instrument and Music

Based on a recent Express newspaper's report dated May 12th, 2012 it was reported that the Maha Sabha laid the rules which stated that absolutely NO Hindu Schools are allowed to have the STEELPAN in their schools unless ALL Hindu Schools were given Indian Musical Instruments. It was also noted that the Ministry of Education has made a statement that the Tabla, Sitar and Cuatro will be added to expand the Pan in Schools program.

While the idea of expansion in the Pan in Schools program can be approached with an open mind, I find it extremely difficult to stomach the bowl of ''racial discriminating salad'' that is being forced down the throat of innocent tax-paying citizens in Trinidad and Tobago. ''Culture'' has become the driving force behind racism.

The most painful part of all the discriminating aspects in T&T is the fact that the youths are caught in the middle of the fire and are suffering due to the hypocrisy of the elders who are given the power to make decisions and are supposed to be the ones that lead by example. It's no surprise that I have always been quoted for saying, "My generation's greatest downfall is the generation which went before!"

The head of the Sanatan Dharma Maha Sabha (SDMS), Mr. Sat Maharaj has made his point very clear and had no objections from the Government. It's a pity that the Steelpan is now being challenged by the Sitar, Tabla and Cuatro. The National instrument, which was created in Trinidad and Tobago and sold T&T to the world is now being questioned by the adults. 

After everything is said and done about the Steelpan and it's irrelivance for the Hindu schools at the moment, one would wonder what the Steelpan community would have to say. It's a pity that the voice of the Pan world is called Pan Trinbago. The last time Pan Trinbago was ever fired up would have been in January 2011 when Minister 'Gypsy' Peters made a cut to the Pan Trinbago cheque from $1000 to $800. They had their hugh ostentatious way of saying that Minister Gypsy must go. That same year in the finals of the Panorama, $75,000.00 was placed from Pan Trinbago into the Prime Minister's Children Life Fund. Since then, we had repeat winners in all categories of Panorama, no Pan in the 21st Century, No Pan is Beautiful and no money in the account to fund anything of importance. Where one would expect the persons that holds the responsibility of the Steelpan in their hands to make a shout, we are met with a loud roar of stillness in the air.

`The National Steel  Symphony Orchestra (NSSO) recently had a very successful concert featuring drums of India at the Naparima Bowl where the pans were used to demonstrate it's versatility and ability to adapt to Indian Music. The audience were totally appreciative of the result. Yet, while the pans seems to reap great rewards it will continue to have it's benefits dichotomized by the decision makers in the country who seeks personal gain to elevate themselves as the gods of the delerious voiceless inhabitants of a world where the ganges fights with the nile.

The million dollar question that I'm now about to ask is, "what happened to being called Trinidadian, Tobagonian or even better....Trinbagonian?" Is it that we are so caught up as Indian and African that May 30th and August 1st are the two most important days in the calendar of T&T? Dr. Eric Williams did make it clear that there is NO Mother India or Mother Africa, yet our elders have all felt it necessary to remind us of our History that we are so caught up in the past that we forget the present tense. We have forgotten that we are all free and opression was a word only found in the ''Gay'' dictionary...before Obama decided to talk about it. 

The heat of dichotomy got even more comical when Pearl ''Eintou'' Springer decided to voice her opinions of Sugar Aloes singing Tarrus Riley's composition entitled, "She's A Queen'' to Mrs. Kamla Persad-Bissessar at the 2nd year anniversary of the People's Partnership's Govenrnment's celebrations. While I am not totally glamoured by the work of Sugar Aloes, I was totally appreciative of the fact that he had placed all bias feelings that he had in the past for the PNM and use himself to uplift the first ever female Prime Minister of T&T. I had absolutely no problems with him using the song during the celebrations. I don't see the reason for Mrs. Springer making a public statement about him singing a song composed by a Jamaican that had no emphasis to any specific racial background. Words such as 'natural beauty,' 'queen', 'she's royal' has absolutely no reason why it shouldn't  be used on the PM. She is a woman, she is beautiful and she was being uplifted by Sugar Aloes. It's not a reason to have racism bought into the spotlight. 

Audre Lorde once described racism as, ''The inability to tolerate difference, or to recognise difference as a beneficial force.'' Indeed she was right and sweet T&T is officially sinking to being a bitter people who are so different from each other that it makes us the same. On March 22nd, 2012 the Guardian reported that T&T was ranked 64th in higher education while India ranked 87th. T&T also ranked 52nd in the area of technological readiness while India ranked 93rd and instead of looking at ways in which T&T can use the Steelpan to improve education in the country and world status, Mr. Sat Maharaj found that the Sitar and Tabla must be sent to Penal/Rock Road Hindu School before a Steelpan can be found on the compound. Instruments that were given to the school by the Government had to be returned because the Sitar and Tabla wasn't included.

That action is why T&T is the way it is. The youth's have learnt that they are oppressed and must fight for survival. They fight for their ''turf'', they fight for rights...rights which they are not even sure of,  while the real mocking pretenders sit above and laugh their way to the banks. The real big fishes that were being seeked after, during the State of Emergency were right in front of everyone's eyes. They sat in the Parliament, they sat in the Police Stations, they sat at the heads of board meetings. It's no surprise the way the country is turning because if the top is corrupted then it's only logical that the ones below will fight for their portion of the pie as well. 

If the Politicians want to prove that they are really concerned for the PEOPLE, then I suggest you should be like everyone. Start with a minimum wage salary and save the treasury some money that can be later used to provide education, health care, national security and maybe a few Tablas and Sitars for the Hindu Schools. Everyone will be officially on the same level. Maybe after that is done you can remove August 1st from being Emancipation day and May 30th form being Indian Arrival Day and make one holiday during the year as ''National Dougla Day'' to celebrate everyone together. It will be one holiday less, and will allow room for more productivity. If anyone has a problem they can go to India or Africa to be where they call home. The fact is that it will never happen because of our society today and what it has come from so it's back to being spoon fed from a silver platter of faecal matter coming from our leaders and elders.




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Mr. Marcus Ash...

Very good post...I appreciate the fact that you are a younger brother and from Laventille..it makes your post even so much more releveant. We do need brothers like you  at "Ground Zero"  fighting the just fight.. speaking up and calling it what it is. everyone may not totally agree with all that you said ..but you had your say brother ,,,and it was good say ...stay on course....Nuff respect


Not ALL gang-bangers and criminals, eh, Salah. :-) 


Great Article Marcus very well done  I hope some of the T&T Radio Personalities who go on the air waves and debate this African and Indian Nonesense will read your article,  I often wondered where the many mixed races fits in   may be they are the real Trinbagonians and the rest are Africians and Indians.

Marcus, this is how change come about, when young people get tired of the same ole same ole speak up.

Good post my brother.

Good point Michael. As one of my teachers said to us, We are Americans, but we always prefer to hyphenate our nationality by saying I am Italian, I am Irish, I am this or I am that, and the citizens of our forebearers countries, do not care a damn about America or Americans.

That may be true, Ian, but if they gave up their Italian, America would not have had pizza. One thing is certain, Italian or Irish, when it comes to a Black president, his birthplace becomes questionable, while theirs are automatically assumed. I live in America, and trust me, "Americans" do not consider you nor I as "Americans", just like they do with the current president. Their image is still White, and "non-immigrant" (unless you are White). Please review Tim Wise's (a White American) videos I posted, and give me your opinion. Also, I disagree that America ever gave up her "forebearers", and to this day, the United Kingdom (Old York) is still America's (New York) closest ally. Further, in my opinion, the ONLY TRUE "Americans", are the ones your teacher's "forebearers" met when they arrived here, and EVERYONE ELSE is an "immigrant" I have no problem with disagreeing; it's when people disagree just for disagreeing sake, then it comes over as disrespectful, ignorant, and insulting. Thanks Ian.


Thanks Mr. Goddard; points well taken.


Thanks people,

enough is enough and it's time someone stand up against the wrong that is happening in T&T. 

Marcus, I appreciate your view, and for pointing out Eric Williams' opinion on the African-Indian identity debate. I have informed this forum, of the early PNM's attempts to unite both groups, and it was the Hindu community's resistance, that resulted in a race-based party system. I do not see the harm in a  person holding on to both ethnicity and nationality, as far as their identity is concerned; and certainly mine is shaped by both nature (as someone of African descent) and nurture (the societal environments I was born, raised and now live in - Africa, Trinidad, United States of America).  

My question to you is: Should children born in America to Trinidad parents, also be asked to give up any association to their forefathers culture, and if so, how many generations removed, should these descendants of immigrants be, before considering themselves no longer "Trini To De Bone!"?

I do not think one's nationality (by birth or naturalization) eliminates the importance of their historic cultural heritage to their overall identity. Numerous studies, crime and gang activity statistical evidence support this, and the more successful "racial" or "immigrant" groups, are the ones that show this to be true. Including Trinidad & Tobago's East Indian descendants. If they truly let go of their "Motherland", roti would be bread, dhal would be peas, and dhalpourie would be bread with peas in it. Saris would have been replaced with summer dresses, and Indian Arrival Day would not have replaced Arrival Day. No dissing them; I think that is the right model. What I dislike, is the double-standards when people of African descent decide to take the same approach. Then we become RACIST AND ANTI-TRINBAGONIAN!!!


While I totally understand what you are saying, i believe that i takes two to dance the Tango. With that being said, it IS a fact that BOTH sides of the fence are using ''RACIAL DISCRIMINATION'' as their way to corrupt the youths today. 

To answer your question in the 2nd paragraph, I would first start by saying that I have absolutely no problem with History. Looking back at our history is definitely a good way to knowing where we came from. My issue is that after we have seen where we came from - the chains, the slavery, the indentured-ship, the sweat, blood and tears that we were born after - it does absolutely nothing for us if we don't take up ourselves and move forward. Too many of our older heads are dwelling on what their ancestors went through and use it to drive hatred through the minds of the youths.

I understand what you are saying as well with you not seeing the harm in a person holding on to both ethnicity and nationality but i think it's being held on to in the wrong order. You are a Trinidadian 1st!!!! You were born in Trinidad, your parents were born here, you do not hold a passport for any country in Africa or India....THEN YOU ARE A TRINIDADIAN WITH AFRICAN/INDIAN DECENT! 

Im not saying to give up what your forefather's culture were but our minds are not thinking in the present tense. If a child is born in the U.S to 2 Trinidadian parents then that child has rights to belong to both countries. However, everyone knows that ''uncle sam'' claims them 1st. That's because they were born there. It's only in Trinidad that we forget where our real home is. 

This question you asked now brought 4 words to my mind which are:-





wonder what;s the importance of those 4 words in all this conversation here...hmmm...


No, young brother. We came LONG, LONG before the chains. Go over my videos when you have some time. (Start with the National Geographic video.)

GHOST - Who Knows Racism Is Fear Based, From Lack Of Knowledge (Of Self And Others).

Home: Where the love is.

Migration: A part of the human history, which originated in Africa.

Exile: Being in a strange land, not by choice, as in the case of other "Trinbagonians", but by force, and being stripped of all cultural memory.

Diaspora: A scattering of a people, either by choice, or by force. Regardless, they are still identified by their place of origin. ("A kitten born in an oven wouldn't be called biscuits." Malcolm X)

you have just proved my point exactly as to why this article was written. The education system taught that it started with the chains... Now i personally couldn't be bothered where it started, not that i don't care, but simply because the real issue at hand is getting the steelpan back into all schools in Trinidad and Tobago.

No disrespect sir but if whatever you got on those videos can assist in getting the real issue at hand solved, then you can give me the video and I am definitely sure that I can get it to Sat Maharaj, Pearl Eintou Springer, Pan Trinbago, Kamla Persad-Bissessar, Tim Gopeesingh and everyone else who needs to know.   

I hope it didn't come across disrespectful and if it did I sincerely apologise.


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