“We can waste time cursing the darkness or we can light a candle”
So says, Tobago Organisation of the People (TOP) political leader Ashworth Jack as he responded to the recent controversial statements about Tobagonians made by Maha Sabha general secretary Sat Maharaj.
Speaking with Newsday on Saturday, Jack said: “There are things that irresponsible leaders do and say to some people who are easily riled by stupidity. I want to admonish every leader – whether it be religious, political or otherwise – that they have a responsibility to do more to hold our society together…You might have your own personal feelings, but we also need to be careful how (we) react to something said by someone we know that’s the nature of the people.”
He said too much time is spent on cursing the "darkness" instead of lighting a candle.
“If there is darkness and you shout and curse all day, your cursing and shouting does not dispel the narratives. If you light a candle, then the darkness would be gone. I’m saying that we, in this case, can’t spend too much time and effort, because this is not the first time that Sat has said outrageousness…The man has a history of outrageousness. He is prone to making irrational statements but that doesn’t mean that he has to pull us down to his level,” Jack added.
The former Minority Leader acknowledged some of the things said by Maharaj were true, including the dependence on Trinidad for basic necessities and the poor work ethic by some.
“Some of the things that Sat Maharaj said is something that has been engaging the attention of us as Tobagonians. It was only last month, Assemblyman Shomari Hector spoke about having to do a motion on work and work ethic, and so there are some things that we agree needs to be fixed,” he said.
He stressed though that Maharaj went beyond the pale to be derogatory in some of the things he spoke about.
“When he spoke about Tobagonians catching crab only to run race and minding goat only to run race, it speaks to a disconnect from Tobago’s culture. In the first place, we know that one of Tobago’s national dishes is crab and dumpling, so obviously it's not only to run race. Secondary, the issue of crab and goat racing is indigenous to Tobagonians and an activity of which Tobagonians are extremely proud, so we do not need to be lectured by someone who don’t understand the first thing of Tobago culture or maybe a culture outside of his own,” Jack said.