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By Dr Kumar Mahabir
The National Trust of Trinidad and Tobago has been strangely silent on the rowdy and relentless campaign to remove the historical statue of Christopher Columbus in the capital city of Port of Spain. I was the Vice Chairman of the Trust from 2013 to 2015.
The Trust seems to place its current Afro-centric agenda above and beyond the public and national interest.
On Labour Day (19/06/20), for example, the Trust chose to highlight only trade unionist Tubal Uriah “Buzz” Butler in its Facebook page. There was a mere one-word reference to, and no photo of Rienzi (Krishna Deonarine, 1905 -1972) who founded both the Oilfields Workers’ Trade Union (OWTU) and the All Trinidad Sugar Estates and Factory Workers’ Union (ATSEFWU), and was the OWTU’s first President General.
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Citizens for Conservation
The Trust is genetically connected to the Citizens for Conservation of Trinidad & Tobago (CFC) with some members having footholds in both organisations at the executive level.
CFC has a long a long history of fighting to protect the natural and man-made heritage in the twin-island republic. Just before the COVID-19 pandemic, the Trust and the CFC were jointly hosting exhibitions, tours and lectures to better educate people to appreciate and protect heritage sites and statues, monuments, churches, plantation houses and cemeteries.
Columbus’s life-sized bronze statue is located in Columbus Square in Port of Spain on the corner of Independence Square and Duncan Street, just east of the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception.
The site is on the Heritage Asset Register of the National Trust which designates the square and the statue as “worthy of notation and preservation.” Despite the horrendous history of Columbus, his statue represents a tangible historical link to the Europe, Africa and Asia since 1498. It is one of the few statues of Columbus in the Caribbean and is a destination site for local and foreign tourists.
As part of the Black-Lives-Matter protest, activists defaced the bronze statue a few nights ago. They wrapped it with red “Danger” caution tape. They covered the bust with a black garbage bag and hung a sign with the word “Murderer” on it.
The Columbus statue is a national monument defined by the National Trust Act (1991, last amended in 2015) as “any building, structure or other work of man or nature, whether above or below the surface of the land or the floor of the sea, of national architectural, aesthetic or historic interest.”
Section 27 of the Act states that any person who (a) “alters, damages, injures or defaces any listed property” or (b) “demolishes or destroys or causes to be demolished or destroyed” such property is liable on summary conviction to a fine, and the Court may, in addition, “order him to pay to the Trust by way of compensation such sum as the Court thinks fit for the purpose of repairing or restoring the property.”
Mahatma Gandhi statue next
The leading figure behind the fascist, extremist and warring campaign to remove the Columbus statue in Port of Spain is Shabaka Kambon. His father, Kafra Kambon, was one of the leaders of the Black Power Movement. On February 26, 1970, they stormed the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Port of Spain and draped black cloth on the sacred statues.
In a letter entitled “Is the Black Power protests repeating itself?”, Imaam Iqubal Hydal wrote: “The statue of Columbus was defaced in a similar manner as the statues in the church were blackened during the march of the Black Power movement … If such a protest should get out of hand, next would be the church itself and animosity to names such as Chacon, Christopher, Martinez et al. (Newsday 20/6/20, Express 18/6/20, Guardian 16/6/20).
Kambon is being aided and abetted by retired history Professor Dr Brinsley Samaroo who claims that he was one of the leaders of the 1970 Black Power revolt. It would not be surprising if Samaroo supports Kambon in his next move, which is to remove all Mahatma Gandhi statues in public places in Trinidad, particularly the one in Kew Place, Gandhi Square, Port of Spain. In 2018, African lecturers at the University of Ghana relocated a statue of Gandhi because they claim that he was “racist.”
Samaroo is expected to also support Kambon in campaigning to change the name of the soon-to-be-opened Mahatma Gandhi Institute cultural complex in Mt Hope, located near the Arthur Lok Jack campus. This imminent protest by Samaroo and Kambon may again stall the progress of this project, started 21 years ago when then Prime Ministers Basdeo Panday and Atal Bihari Vajpayee turned the sod at Mt Hope.
The solution to this Columbus crisis is a compromise. The monument should be left alone but the inscription in the plaque can change. Samaroo, Kambo and the Warao Queen can be free to write “Monster and Murderer” permanently in bronze at the bottom of the explorer’s statue.
About the Author-Dr Mahabir is an anthropologist who has published 11 books.
The sporting industry thrives on the success of the patron teams, or at least, teams that the people love. It is common knowledge how much time and energy people are willing to spend watching matches between their favourite team and its rival. Matches that take place across the world, in different time zones, do not matter much when it comes to expressing patronage for a star player or team. Late nights, crowded sitting rooms, and rain-checked appointments are absolutely welcome during match season.
Cricket has gained the world's love when it comes to making them stop everything and stare at a screen, awaiting the next run, boundary, or wicket. No other sport across the world receives as much love and undying allegiance. In this scenario, it is only natural to have an entire system in place that makes use of this immense love for the sport. Creating leagues that run annually, and pit one team against another, to measure prowess, skill, and popularity does not seem odd at all. In fact, it pumps the adrenaline more than ever, and receives an incredible amount of support. People will do anything to watch their team in action one more time.
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Like in every other cricket-loving nation, Australia's Big Bash League reigns supreme among the predictors, who weigh the statistics of each team, player, and season. They go by the name of KFC Big Bash League, more popularly, BBL, and were established in 2011. Their franchise Twenty20 matches are held during the summer season, between the months of December and February. Currently, there are six local teams, Sydney Sixers, Perth Scorchers, and so on, the former being the latest champion. Apart from the Indian Premier League, BBL has the most attendance.
A batsman swinging the ball Image credit: Photo by Yogendra Singh on Unsplash
Since the world's eyes are on Australia anyway during this season, BBL also predicts its winners and losers, hosting events and putting up charts of the same. Experts that work under them regularly update the ravenous public about the latest developments based on experience, how often team members change hands, leadership developments, and even predict the success of each player in turn. The BBL points table sees a raving amount of reviews each year from the publicity of the franchise itself. People from all over world want to be able to know the outcome of the match beforehand, to increase the excitement of watching it.
Over the years, newer features have been introduced to make the franchise more enticing. Awards, both real and imaginary, are handed out to winners, and to exceptional players. Online betting also takes place to see who wins and who loses, based on personal opinions coupled with the experts' predictions. The BBL chart is extremely useful in this context. They even have a Women's Big Bash League that is gaining momentum.
Also read: The Ultimate Cricket Stay
The odds offered by BBL takes into account all the minute factors that most predictors do not pay attention to, such as weather conditions, and a list of probable players, including match details. What makes BBL reliable is that the experts who give out suggestions do their best field work, and have sound knowledge of the game and players. On Crictips, BBL has truly made a name for itself as an all-round cricket guide to all kinds of sporting audiences.
(Disclaimer: This article is sponsored and contains some commercial links)
Keywords: Australia, BBL, Crictips, Cricket, Betting
Cinema and movie making is constantly changing, and the result is in front of us we've come a long way from silent black and white short movies to high definition, colour, 5-D movies. It has evolved for the last 108 years and continues to grow. India's first auteur-filmmaker Dhundiraj Govind Phalke popularly known as Dadasahen Phalke directed and produced India's first feature film Raja Harishchandra which was a hundred per cent made by the Indian crew. The movie was released in Bombay's (Mumbai) Coronation Theatre on the 3rd of May 1913 under the label of being India's first home production, full-length film.
Raja Harishchandra was the first to be 'acted, directed and produced by an all-Indian team. Phalke's inspiration to make a "Swadeshi" movie comes from when he viewed the silent movie, "The Life of Christ" in 1911. He wrote in Navayug, November 1917 that While the Life of Christ was rolling fast before my physical eyes, I was mentally visualizing the gods, Shri Krishna, Shri Ramachandra, their Gokul and Ayodhya… He wanted to feel the connection with the movies but that connection failed to form as the context of the movie was foreign.
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Phalke went to London the very next year to learn about filmmaking techniques. He even imported the hardware required for filmmaking to India from England, France, Germany, and the United States of America. Upon his return to India, he founded Phalke Films Company. Phalke published classified in various newspapers for the cast and crew to apply, what's unique about the film was that even the female roles were played by male actors this happened as no women were available for the role.
Phalke was a one-man crew for the production, he was in charge of writing script, direction, production design, make-up, film editing along with film processing. The filming of the whole movie took six months and 27 days.
The female roles were played by male actors in the movieWikimedia Commons
As the name itself suggests the film closely follows the story of Satyavadi Raja Harishchandra from the Vedas who is known to be the epitome of truth as maharishi Vishvamitra makes him go through numerous torturous tests to prove himself.
The story goes as Raja (King) Harishchandra was teaching his son, Rohitashva how to shoot with a bow and arrow as Queen Taramati watches over her son and husband. Later the people of the Kingdom request the king to go on a hunting expedition as the animals have been creating havoc. While on the hunt, Harishchandra hears the cries of some women. Upon following the voice Harishchnadra discovers the sage Vishwamitra was performing a yajna to get help from Triguna Shakti (three powers) against their will. After witnessing the sight Harishchandra revolts and interrupts the sage, which infuriates the egoistic sage. To calm his wrath Harishchandra offers to sacrifice his kingdom to the sage. He informs his queen of the events and the family is exiled from the kingdom by Vishvamitra. The sage asks the poor king for Dakshina within the time period of 48 days. While in exile Rohitashva meets his demise, the king asks his wife to visit Dom king in the hope of free cremation only to face more difficulties on the path Vishvamitra frames her for the murder of the prince of Kashi. Taramati faces trial, pleads guilty and is ordered to be beheaded by Harishchandra. With a torn heart but as he could not turn away from his duty, the king raises his sword to behead his wife, Lord Shiva appears, and it is revealed that all the difficulties they have been going throw were the tests laid down by Vishvamitra to test the integrity of the king, Harishchandra gets back his kingdom, his son is brought back to life and the movie ends.
A legacy of the century
Only a handful of "firsts/indigenous" movies made in India have survived the century. Raja Harishchandra being one of them still holds the same meaning and inspiration for its audience as it did a century ago. Film historian Firoze Rangoonwalla describes the film's impact on the public as "a wide impression and appealed to a large audience in different places" and its box office success provided "the seal of acceptance and laid the foundation of the film industry" in the country.
The debate over whether Raja Harishchandra is truly the first full-length Indian feature film has been argued over for decades. Some film historians claim that Shree Pundalik by Dadasaheb Torne was released in the same theatre a year before Raja Harishchandra was the maiden Indian Film. However, other historians differ they argue that Shree Pundalik is a simple cinematographic recording filmed by a British cameraman on a single fixed camera, and later processed in London. On the other hand, Raja Harishchandra was completely made in India, from cameraman to final editing of the movie. Thus, it has recognition from the government of India as the first Indian feature film.
Keywords: Filmmaking, India's first feature film, Raja Harishchandra, Dadasaheb Phalke, filmmakers in India
As fall nesting is upon us, opt for tasteful wallpapers if you're looking to dramatically overhaul your interiors. Besides being more durable and cost-effective in the long run, wallpapers can add texture and dimension to a space, transforming an ordinary room into something special. Take your pick from muted backdrops to geometric prints from a splash of vibrant hues to intricate patterns.
Artisan Furnishings curates a few trends to dress your walls up for the season:
If yours is a minimalistic home with clean simple designs and home accessories, covering your wall with a muted color and simple floral motifs will work like a charm. An interplay of the yesteryear's cottage core vibe with a contemporary design aesthetic, your walls will play muse to the season of new beginnings.
An interplay of the yesteryear's cottage core vibe with a contemporary design aesthetic, your walls will play muse to the season of new beginnings. | Photo by Unsplash
Cover Me in Sunshine
Vibrant hues of sunshine orange and yellow with intricately lined patterns in white bring out a certain allure and warmth to your home along with adding a statement to your wall. Paint your home in this subdued backdrop to give it a fresh makeover.
Vibrant hues of sunshine orange and yellow with intricately lined patterns in white bring out a certain allure and warmth to your home. | IANSlife
Go Rustic with Earthy Tones
Invoking the aura of the charming English countryside, the rustic trend blends the neutral backdrops and an earthy colour palette of beige, brown, and blue. Infusing a sense of tradition and craftsmanship, these wallpapers are designed with ingenuity and love for our diverse roots.
The rustic trend blends the neutral backdrops and an earthy color palette of beige, brown, and blue. I Photo by Unsplash
Bold Hues on Muted Backdrops
Give your home a festive spirit and feel with wallpapers created on a simple color palette of cream with gold accents. Reminiscent of palaces and their vintage and regal vibe, this wall-covering trend goes perfectly for every kind of space.
Floral motifs and structural designs create a bespoke line of wall arts to bring out the essence of fall in your home. | IANSlife
A melange of Pattern and Prints
Uniquely designed patterns on a plethora of backdrops colored white, cream, beige, and bold hues of violet, this trend is perfect for all seasons. Floral motifs and structural designs create a bespoke line of wall arts to bring out the essence of fall in your home. (IANS/ MBI)
Keywords: Wall trends, Minimalistic Decor, Floral motifs, and structural designs, home accessories, Contemporary design aesthetic.