When Marvin Ganteaume was evicted from his Providence Estate apartment last month for not paying his rent, he tried to make the case that the land on which the apartment complex stood was owned by his ancestors, French plantation owners and investors, but was unlawfully acquired by the government.
Despite failing to convince a High Court judge he was entitled to the property, Ganteaume is still determined to make his story and his family's legacy known.
Ganteaume, 34 visited Newsday's Port of Spain office last week and said despite his efforts to convince a judge he was entitled to the land, he was ordered to pay outstanding rent to the landlord.
An East Port of Spain tradesman, Ganteaume claims he discovered his family's hidden history after doing extensive research into TT's early history and speaking with his oldest living relatives. Saying he had copies of legal documents from the early 20th century supporting his lineage and claim to properties in Belmont, St Joseph and Mayaro, Ganteume says they are his birthright, and assets owned by his ancestors.
"My great-uncle was a direct relative of the original Ganteaume clan from Mayaro. To this day at the Mayaro cemetery they still have a very prominent gravesite. In fact it was one of my ancestors who was the official administrator under the British, Francois Alphonse Ganteaume. It is truly a shame that this information was not passed on to the future generations."
The reason for his parents' and grandparents' exclusion from the Ganteaume family, he claims, was a severe beating given to his great-uncle which left him amnesiac some time before World War II. Ganteaume claims that this prevented his ancestor from passing on the information about his lineage to his children, resulting in the family's legacy being lost.
Despite scepticism, Ganteaume said he was not discouraged and remains committed to sharing the truth of his family's legacy. He said he had hired an attorney to review documents that he says give him the rights to properties in St Joseph.
"It's something people ought to know about and I intend to pursue this fully and as best as I can," he said.