THE EDITOR: On January 1, 1889, the union of Trinidad and Tobago came into effect after some deliberation and pronouncement by the British parliament. This year marks the 119th anniversary of that historic event.
Through the years, not much has been made of the occasion. Some might consider it a marriage of convenience as our children have been raised without an appreciation of the uniqueness of our relationship and the fact that we stayed together in the face of many attempts to divide us.
Some may even say it is destined that we go our separate ways, but the fact remains that when the “I do” was announced in 1899 it was for the long haul. We have stayed together.
We must celebrate our connection that has survived a generation of agitation and bickering. Like a marriage, there have been the quarrels, the call for separate governance, while our children look on in dismay.
I dare say that the generation today is still as committed to the uniqueness of the “Trinbago” culture as reflected in our festivals and activities. There are no goat and crab races in Trinidad or any vibrant fervent cultural mix in Tobago, but we remain a good blend. We are distinct, but not apart, the uniqueness of a nation that is two yet one.
Or is it that we can’t stand alone? Why haven’t our brilliant minds determined a way for self-government or some other form of existence that satisfies the purists among us?
Maybe, somewhere in a backroom, or on a street corner, some of us quietly long for being truly Tobagonian or Trinidadian and not being annexed as a nation, but that remains a distant possibility. And as calypsonian Spoiler sang, “Trinidad and Tobago will always be one.”
We both ended our relationships with our British colonisers; a people once enamoured by the queen and crown, who sang to the Union Jack like a mantra; learned to appreciate the sweet strains of our national anthem and rose up to thank God for the red, white and black that flutters so proudly in the breeze.
And so our independence from colonial control in 1962 gave us the right to be free, to determine our own destiny and we journeyed on, hand in hand, to become a twin-island republic in 1976. Today our relationship remains strong.
We moved on as a nation ... we left the colonial relationship to embrace one love. And so we are in this together, to aspire and achieve. Ours is a relationship of love and duty, a shared responsibility to survive and excel in our endeavours.
While there may be imaginary lines of distinction like south from north Trinidad or the separating sea from Scarborough to Toco, we remain resolute in our efforts to keep the “marriage alive.”
Regrettably, we have grown accustomed to not having seen any celebration about the union of Trinidad and Tobago or any recognition of what occurred in January 1899. Like much of our history, it has been discarded and destroyed by callous custodians and a people who fete away their ethos without much reflection and appreciation for our past, and the knowledge that guides our destiny.
Not another holiday certainly, but we can definitely recognise and celebrate the union of our beautiful islands, the reality that we remain one nation under God.
We draw from the words of the song God Bless our Nation as written by Marjorie Padmore: “May we possess the common love that binds and makes us one. We can boast of unity and take a pride in our destiny.”
Now is the appointed time to plan and organise even the simplest of events honouring the anniversary of our unitary State. Reminding ourselves and educating our children on the intrinsic beauty of TT — our unity.
I stand in awe of what God has done in keeping our country in one “house” and not giving in to the ill-advised lure of going our separate ways.
What God has joined together, let no man try to put asunder.
APOSTLE TERRENCE HONORE, San Fernando