Dookeran pointed out that a journey for freedom, is what ignited the 'Yatra Jaaree Hai' (the journey had begun). In India in modern times, that freedom was given political expression in 1947; it was not only the freedom of India, and it soon spread to all places that was called the British Empire in Asia, Africa and the Caribbean"
Winston Dookeran, former foreign and finance minister of Trinidad and Tobago, said at the 178th Indian Arrival Day celebrations, May 30, 2023, in this Caribbean island nation that "Let My Country Awake" by Indian Nobel Laureate Rabindranath Tagore was really a poem that captures a moment in history. "How come a mere poem has such gigantic effects--it was really a poem capturing a moment in history--the artist, like the calypsonians, the Black Stalin and so many others, did so often for us", he questioned.
Dookeran said that Tagore saw the world trembled as he inspired the politics ahead of himself, and he was accorded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1913 which proclaimed as, "a powerful call to action and a declaration of belief in achievable change, as it was a call for a higher level of freedom that resonates loudly today." He noted that politics is noble, the practice of politics must also be noble, and politics must guide our destiny, not by making us the victim of the politics but by shaping and shaking it, by awakening again the search for a higher freedom as it did in 1845.
Dookeran has called on the Indian diaspora of Trinidad and Tobago, where over 40 per cent of the 1.2 million population are of Indian descent, "take up your jihadi bundle and walk with pride, courage and confidence to shape up our politics, to shape our destiny and to dirty our hands in the public arena of all who choose to call this land our home".Dookeran, who delivered the feature address before an overflowing audience, said "As our own political journey takes a new turn, we must use the power of gratitude to choose our own destiny."
"So, 178 years ago, our forefathers took their "jihadi bundle" and sailed across the seas (from India) in search of that freedom in a land where others from Africa were also in the midst of their own journey in a land the Amerindians live, the Europeans ruled and people from China, the Middle East and everywhere choose to, find their own destiny", he thundered to the assembly.
"In that jihadi bundle, there was courage, compassion and confidence", he noted.
Choosing one's destiny
"Today Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi is a symbol of that freedom worldwide, followed by great world political leaders like Nelson Mandela and Martin Luther King. The freedom I speak about is the ability to choose one's own destiny."
At the time of our (Trinidad and Tobago) own independence in 1962, our destiny depended on the language of progress in our own complex pathway to nationhood. Dookeran continued: "Nationhood eluded us, our leaders, instead of rising to a higher level of freedom, surrendered to the politics of survival. Choosing one's own destiny, for the leaders, meant choosing one's own political survival, remaining in our own comfort zones and hoping a nation will happen on its own. What is at stake in the language of progress is the public values that will govern us, the character of a nation that will inspire us."
"So in this year 2023, as we get closer to 200 years since the Fatel Razack docked in Trinidad, we must refresh our ability to choose our own destiny--where our identity is rooted in our national culture, where our freedom rises to a higher level of taking care of the aspirations of all races and religions, who by the forces of history and geography, have come to make this their homeland", he continued.
Dookeran noted that as the journey continues, the problems of our society are our problems and the language of progress must take precedence over despair. and discontent. We must keep our democratic freedoms alive, and that nation must celebrate that freedom together--as we did the events of 1990, a triumph of darkness over a violent attack on our democracy.
"... into that heaven of freedom, my Father, let my country awake".
(The author is a Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago-based journalist. Views are personal. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)