Friday, November 20, 2009

Trinidad & Tobago Independence Day

As we celebrate our 47th Independence Anniversary it may be wise of us as a nation to contemplate one of the most potent sayings of the State of Israel: "Lest we remember saying never again."

On the 31st of August 1962 Independence enshrined in the psyche of our diverse community a new meaning. Our Constitutional wathcords adopted at Independence gave us a sense of vision that would assist us as we traveled toward 1st world status. The pillars of "meaning" and "identity" ensured us that we would never again revert to a dependency state.

Independence is an intangible that is transformed into a tangible and the reality of this tangibility is responsibility for our actions. Trinidad and Tobago's Independence was attained as a result of the endeavours of many powerful individuals. Thereforewe must not be careless with such hard won achievements.

We as a nation have almost overcome all the growing pains associated with achieving 1st world status. However, there are some negative elements of these achievements that have adhered to our nation and are in need of serious attention. The correction of our problems must be solved by a unified Trinidad and Tobago regardless of any differences of opinion, politics or ethnicity.

As we celebrate Independence let us look at what we as a nation have to do to ensure that the Trinidad and Tobago of the future is a true representation of the efforts of 47 years. As we move forward the vision that would have once been hazy in the beginning now presents a picture of absolute clarity.

Happy Independence to all and a hope of a bright future as one nation.

Long Circular Mall

Patna Street as far as my memory goes was one of the most sedate streets in St. James. The landmarks on the street at the end of St. James were Auguste Parlour at Brunton Road and Patna Street and “Lidlo” which stretched from Kandahar Street along to Patna Street. There was also a fledgling industrial concern. For all intent and purposes Patna Street was a quiet street for either pedestrians or vehicular traffic.

The passage of time has a way with shaping who and what we are and Patna Street was no exception to the rule. As Trinidad and Tobago developed so did its taste for concepts in shipping and this was reflected in an international flavor. The real estate on Patna Street that was once home to a farm and manufacturing concerns was transformed into one of the largest malls in Trinidad and Tobago if not in the Eastern Caribbean.

The Long Circular Mall, affectionately called ‘The Mall’ by St. Jamesians, is one of our local jewels and presents us and the country with a unique shopping experience. ‘The Mall’ has also brought much more than glamour to St. James. There has been an increase in vehicular traffic making Patna Street another main vehicle thoroughfare. The increased traffic can be an asset to St. James. Hopefully, this real time situation can influence the city planners to introduce legislation that would make for more regulated traffic and parking rules.

The Long Circular Mall is an important asset to St. James and this is realized by the number of business enterprises that have opened along the length of Patna Street. This is good for the economy of St. James and as a result an explosion of commerce can further enhance an already vibrant city. Hats off to ‘The Mall!’

St. James Youth Centre

The new St. James Youth Centre that now adorns our landscape in all its majesty was constructed on the site of the old St. James Community Centre. This facility was built as part of the government’s Vision 2020 which seeks to empower the youth of the nation. History is important in chronicling progress. The history of the old community centre must be considered to understand the new ‘youth centre.’ The old community centre, a model of its day, was built with materials from the surrounding vicinity and the labour was provided by the young men of the community. This project was truly a community effort.

If memory serves me correct the community centre was a ‘hub of activities’ offering: dance, tailoring, welding and tutoring in primary and secondary level education. This institution served and nourished St. James and the surrounding communities for many years.

The progression of time and two chief factors, one being the advent of the comprehensive schools and secondly the revamping of the technical institutes, caused a steady decline in usage of the centre thus rendering it to the underused category.

A community centre is an integral part of the micro society, engendering not only technical and vocational learning but also fostering and stimulating community togetherness, camaraderie, and can act as an avenue for establishing and maintaining the links between the generational members of the society.

This St. James Youth Centre was built by the government in corporation with the Peoples Republic of China, and its management falls under the Ministry of Sport and Youth Affairs.

The citizens of St. James as community minded people are thankful that we once again have a centre in our precincts. This edifice is a reflection of our aspirations and as a vanguard community the 21st century looks to be one of promise. The Youth Centre has all the makings of one to deliver what it was constructed for and all is left up to the community to aggressively exploit its offerings.

We at St. James Times are of the opinion that this new facility will serve as an holistic education endeavor which will be integral to the government youth career stimulus plan.

Mural Chronicles

It is said that the measure of a man is expressed by the pronouncements of his peers. This surley bears truth as evidenced in the way that the residents of St. James have shown their love and respect for two of our most well known residents. The etching of this 'mural' chronicles their achievements and as such further enshrines them into the national psyche. What is left now is for St. James as a community to collectively honour these men with their 'keys' to the city that never sleeps.

Ministry of Science, Technology and Tertiary Education

St. James is home to the Ministry of Science, Technology and Tertiary Education. The government in its wisdom has seen it fit to grace the community with this magnificent building which houses the Science, Technology and Tertiary Education. The 21st Century is upon us and this ministry is in the forefront of preparing the nations able population to be ready to harness the energies of the technological age.

J'Ouvert Jam 2009

St. James J’Ouvert Jam is the result of the Organizing Committee of Mangen [a local NGO] bringing to the community a slice of the carnival celebrations enjoyed primarily in Port-of-Spain. Communities are encouraged by the government to be active participants in the “merry monarchs” short reign. This means that there are changes in the way that Carnival is traditionally celebrated. St. James being no stranger to Carnival Revelry was a natural for this innovation. 2008 saw Mangen's foray into the J’Ouvert scenery with a tribute to a leading calypsonian whose material was to be played by the ‘single pan bands’ of the western region.

2008’s outcome was not totally dramatic but it gave encouragement to make 2009 a successful event, and a successful event it was. There was an increase in J’Ouvert 2009 bands, Ol’ Mas Characters and Single Pan Bands which created the atmosphere of true carnival spirit.

The cornerstone of this venture is the reason D’ĂȘtre for the celebration. Mangen acknowledges individuals who have in some way contributed to and influenced carnival culture locally [St. James] and nationally.

2010 another block in the building of the permanent structure for the St. James J’Ouvert Jam Celebration is already on the way and promises to be an even bigger and better event.

Historical Architecture

The idea to celebrate the “Historical Architecture of St. James” came about as a direct result of the subtle but pronounced changes that are taking place in the community. In most first world countries preservation/restoration receives considerable attention from governmental and private institutions at the communal level. The “Historical Architecture of St. James” was a collaborative effort of Berger T&T, Community Individuals and Mangen. The effort endeavored to save a piece of St. James that would be easily relegated to the ‘junk pile’ or ‘memory’ history.

The famous quotation of yesteryear states that, ‘your future is determined by a knowledge of your past.’ In embracing the concept of the Historical Architecture of St. James we as a community have made a conscious effort to preserve our past which would give way to a future that a younger generation could understand and contribute to.

It is hoped that with this preservation of the past, a spark would be ignited in the younger St. James generation fueling sense of belonging and conviction thereby solidifying St. James’ vanguard status.

We Beat 2009

We Beat 2009 was celebrated in grand style again in St. James. The St. James C.I.C. has again shown that the event is equal to if not surpasses any of the other seasonal shows in Trinidad and Tobago. Kudos to C.I.C. and we look forward to 2010.