AFTER SLAVERY : The Facts ( A Trinidad perspective)
In 1834, slavery ended, fast forward a 183 years to present time, 2017. That is at least, seven generations ago, yet today, blacks and descendants of the African slaves continue to cast blame for their social and societal problems on SLAVERY.
Let me state from the onset, I agree that slavery was heinous, barbaric and is a part of history that ought never to have happened.
In Trinidad and Tobago, by 1840, all slaves were free and had established themselves within communities miles away from the plantations. As the economy of T&T grew and the former slaves sought non-plantation type jobs, they also acquired land and estates.
It is a fact and that the former slaves and their off-spring up to the 1950’s were a strong and growing middle-class. Up to the late 1970’s the Afro Trinidadian were wealthy and had good control within the social fabric of the Society. Many may find this hard to believe, but let’s state the facts:
- Along the Eastern Main Road from the Lighthouse in Port of Spain to Sangre Grande (nearly 40 miles), excluding the are of Tunapuna/ El Dorado (2 miles ), most of the land/ properties on both sides of the road were owned by Afro Trinidadians.
- From Chaguanas flyover to Longendenville ( 2 miles ) most of the land/ properties on both sides of the road were owned by Afro Trinidadians.
- Most of the properties within Port of Spain were owned by Afro Trinidadians.
- From Claxton Bay in central along the Southern Main Road up to Point Fortin (nearly 75 miles ) were owned by Afro Trinidadians.
- Up to the present, the majority of jobs at the T&T Port/Docks were dominated by the Afro Trinidadians Afro Trinidadians. Up to the late 1980’s these jobs were the second highest paid after “oil” related jobs.
- Up to the early 1990’s Afro Trinidadians dominated high paying jobs at the two major utilities of Water and Electricity.
- Up to the late 1990’s, Afro Trinidadians were dominant in jobs at Customs, Licence Authority and Immigration.
- Up to the 1970’s, Afro Trinidadians was the dominant middle class group in the society. Indians were still confined to agriculture and maintained an agrarian society.
- Up to the 1990’s jobs within the oil industry were Afro Trinidadian dominated.
- The strong Afro Trinidadian middle class was evident as they comprised most of the jobs as teachers, attorneys and doctors.
The above list is just a small analysis to indicate the strength of the Afro Trinidadians within Trinidad. What happened? For reasons, yet to be analyzed and understood, Afro Trinidadians became more state dependent and less “self-dependent”. Most of the prime lands owned by Afro Trinidadians were sold to East Indians. Today on these spots are multi-story buildings with successful businesses.
The previously considered “rural/lagoon” areas dominated by East Indians are now bustling semi-urban commercial areas. Examples include Debe, Penal, Cunupia, Bamboo, San Juan, Aranguez, El Dorado and Sangre Grande. Whilst the Afro Trinidadian dominated areas remain high underdeveloped. These include Enterprise, Arouca, Laventille, Morvant, Sea Lots, La Brea, Erin and Carenage.
In the last thirty-five years a major shift occurred with an increasing number of East Indians in the major jobs within the oil sector, Customs, Licence Authority, Immigartion, Teaching and Health.
Presently East Indians dominate medicine, pharmacology, teaching and law. In addition, there is a growing cadre of East Indians within the Public Service.
Why the transformation? The major reason has been education. The East Indians in the last six decades have sacrificed and focused on the education of their children.
The shift from Afro Trinidadian dominance to East Indian dominance is happening rapidly. This change has brought upon the negative effects of crime and state sponsored racial discrimination.
The East Indian must fight back and unity is the ultimate goal.