Fifty-six years after the first prime minister began the journey to nationhood, the dream of a “Mother Trinbago” which rested in the schoolbags of the nation’s children has not been fully realised.
In making this statement, Justice Frank Seepersad said as the country prepares to celebrate its 56th anniversary of Independence, hope has been replaced by hopelessness and although there have been few glorious moments of unity, there is mistrust and separation along, social, cultural and ethnic lines.
At the opening of a $700,000 children’s play park at Palmiste Park, San Fernando, on Sunday evening, Seepersad said he hopes the park will endure for the benefit of many children and that it will be much more than a recreational facility, but serve as a place of hope and renewal.
The park is a partnership effort between charitable organisation Rapid Fire Kids Foundation and Fun Splash Waterpark.
Fun Splash CEO Vijay Ramai presented president of the foundation Kevin Ratiram, with a cheque for $150,000 at the opening. Ratiram became emotional as he spoke about the generosity of many people who helped to achieve this dream.
The representative of Agriculture Minister Clarence Rambharat, adviser Marcelle Boyce, said not a cent of state funding was used to build the public playpark.
Remarking on the happy event, Seepersad noted that too often, “We are confronted with negativity, tragedy and despair, and moments such as these seem to be the exception rather than the norm.
Congratulating the organisations on their achievement, Seepersad recalled Prime Minister Eric Williams’s abundant hope when he began the journey to nationhood. He said citizens stood ready to forge a nation where dreams would be realised and where freedom, equality and prosperity would reign.
“Our first prime minister encouraged us to remember that there was no longer any Mother Africa, India, Europe or China but only Mother Trinbago and he articulated that the future of the young nation rested in the schoolbags of the nation’s children.
“Unfortunately, this vision has not been fully realised.
“We have been able to coexist and there have been fleeting moments when we have mobilised and unified as one people, especially, when we have enjoyed international successes either by our athletes or our beauties.
“However, true unity has eluded us. Sadly, the hope of nationhood has been replaced by hopelessness, as we are confronted with spiralling crime rates, a lack of productivity, unacceptable levels of intolerance and a lack of discipline. Years of energy wealth spoilt us, and we have become lazy, entitled and complacent. Notwithstanding the few glorious moments of unity, we generally live separate lives, characterised by suspicion and distrust.”
He said TT’s rich, varied cultural and ethnic diversity should be its greatest asset and not a pressing liability, but far too often decisions are undertaken from a perspective of “us against them,” and in such a small space there exist unacceptable divisions premised upon race, geographical location, religion, sexual orientation and politics.
“The dream of a ‘Mother Trinbago’ has not been fully realised and our educational system has failed to inculcate a sense and spirit of nationalism. We have no sense of national identity,” the judge said.
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