Where is our point of no beginning from which we are always trying to begin? Debt bonded East Indians massacred on the Roseau reed tombs of Hassan and Hosein at Cross Crossing; ‘the tinkling leg-irons that join the chains of the sea’ on slave ships for the silver coins that ripple on the horizon; dismembered Amerindians making red the lily white sands of the Arena forest and their vested wives sent to be servants in St. Joseph; embattled Europeans building fortresses preoccupied with their personal defencelessness and shaken by the tremor of the tamboo bamboo and the terror of the kalenda rhythm, during the cannes brulées rituals of resistance. This is our podium. It is the place from which we plot our escape each day that we live. It is a shame which we want to hide and escape from- but where do we go? Even our children struggle to find the passage that a scholarship can carve-out from this emptiness.
These issues are central to the state-space of the West Indies we live in today. Where is the cenotaph within a memorial park to celebrate and settle our rebellion and our wish to escape separation and servitude? It can neither be a statue of Columbus east of the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception nor one dedicated to the two World Wars. We are yet to settle our joint enslavement and liberation. This is our only common ground. Our failure to address these issues has barricaded the distinct groups that make up our societies from evolving beyond the initial themes that preoccupied us since we first arrived. It remains the only way to clean the slate and approach a new beginning. The purification from the guilt suffered by the victim and the victimizer will not only settle accounts, but create something more affirmative that overshadows the old ideas and motifs.
Blackness is not a colour- it is a classification, just as the West is not a direction but an orientation to life.
Once we violate others, we cause them to lose something and Earl Lovelace points out that we also lose our own respect and become lost in our own tragedy. Any attempt to avoid the discussion of this loss is a misery and any small gesture to heal these wounds will steady the madness that has consumed us for far too long. What is evident is that there is no ‘us’ and ‘them’ because all parties are participants in the practice and each group must see the humanity of all the other groupings. We cannot remain constrained in the West Indies by the contradictions in our histories and contemporary life.
Football in Trinidad and Tobago bears a stamp of this inheritance. In the 1950s, under colonial rule, the various football clubs mirrored the social segmentation of the society. In the foothills of the northern range, the First Division included football teams like: Maple, Malvern, Colts, Shamrock, Casuals, Providence, Notre Dame, Queen’s Royal College (QRC), Belmont Boys’ Intermediate, now renamed St. Francis Boys’ College, and St. Mary’s College (CIC). At that time, it was not unusual for soccer, like everything else in the country, to reflect stratification. Malvern Sports Club was founded in June 1942 at Siegert Square in Woodbrook and the club colours were wine and white. The motto at inception was- ‘Victoria Concordia Crescit’; a motto which Arsenal F.C. adopted in 1947. QRC and CIC competed in the Port of Spain First Division and for the intercollegiate Alexander Cup, which was soon expanded to include Fatima College. The First Division teams played in the Queen’s Park Savannah, in front of the Grand Stand and at the northern extremity of the Queen’s Park Savannah, the Northern Amateur Football League functioned with teams like Dynamos, Paragon, Police, Luton Town, Midvale, and Fire Services. In the South of Trinidad, two distinct First Class Leagues were sponsored by the Southern Amateur Football Association and the Southern Amateur Football League. The First Division teams included Apex, Spitfire, United British Oilfields of Trinidad (UBOT), Shell, Trinidad Petroleum Development (TPD), Juniors, British Petroleum (BP)-Palo Seco, BP-Fyzabad, Naparima College, and Presentation College. These petroleum multinationals provided the teams of the South with the privileged chance to train on superior grounds.
Like QRC and CIC in the North, Naparima and Presentation Colleges competed annually during the southern intercollegiate games for the Cutteridge Cup, culminating with the champions of the South meeting the northern intercollegiate victor for the Cow & Gate Cup. In 1953, Trinidad and Tobago toured the UK with footballers like Delbert Charleau, Colin Agostini, Rex Burnett, Robert Hamel-Smith and Matthew Nunes playing fourteen games, winning five, losing six and drawing the remaining three.
In ‘Salt’, Lovelace reminds us that the problem of humanization has always, from an axiological point of view, been humankind’s central problem and that today it takes on the colour of an inescapable concern. Dehumanization scars not only those whose humanity have been stolen, but also those who have taken it away. The struggle for humanization and for the overcoming of alienation can be easily rendered invisible unless the truth of our beginning is given destiny. Amnesia is not an option. The process of self-humanization and the humanization of others is the beginning that we avoid and it is here that education as a practice of domination is unlike education as a practice of freedom.