Happy New Year To My Love, T&T

By Nina Simone

T&T 2008 into T&T 2009
By Guanaguanare

As you usher out the old year
And welcome in the new
Even though I am not there
Love, I'm thinking of you.

There'll be no magical hour
That will turn things around
Only you have the power
To choose how you'll be found.

I hope it finds you at peace
Or closer to winning the war
But never on your knees...
Donnez-vous le pouvoir!

"Patria est communis omnium parens" - Our native land is the common parent of us all. Keep it beautiful, make it even more so.

Blessed is all of creation
Blessed be my beautiful people
Blessed be the day of our awakening
Blessed is my country
Blessed are her patient hills.

Mweh ka allay!


Captain Walker said...

I don't know if this was relevant to the situation in T&T and I hope this was not meant to be funny.

The sun sets on a very dark year in T&T's history!

The dawn will be very very bleak indeed.

Join us in a minute of silence at the Freedom Chambers.

Guanaguanare said...

Oh dear! I was being rather obscure with this post, wasn't I?

First, thank you, Captain Walker for visiting and taking the time to comment. Let not your heart be troubled. If you know anything about me, you should already know that I do not pretend to be a comedian and I would not find any pleasure in trying to be funny at the expense of T&T. My Trinbago, my people and their struggles and victories, I take very seriously.

I'd hoped that people would get it and that I wouldn't have to "murder to dissect" but for the benefit of yourself and others who may have experienced similar confusion, this performance by Nina Simone, right down to the last word, gesture and sound represents a tension which exists in my personal relationship with my country. From the little that I know of your views, such a conflict may not be relevant to you, but if it is relevant to even one Trinbagonian, in this case. myself, I consider it to be relevant to the "situation" in Trinbago.

Anyway, what precisely is "The Situation" in Trinbago to which my posts should be relevant? Are you speaking about the most obvious crime situation? Are you speaking about the primary education situation? Are you speaking about the situation with the baby lizards which might have been newly hatched this morning? Are you speaking about the situation with the thousands of mothers or fathers who lovingly prepared nutritious meals for their families? Are you speaking about the situation with people of one ethnic group blaming people of another ethnic group for all their troubles? Are you speaking about the situation where some police men go home in the evenings to cry openly or to turn their traumatised beings towards violence against their families? Are you speaking about the situation with those beautiful sunsets that can break your heart if you take the time to notice them? Are you speaking about the situation where our Prime Minister had to face life-threatening surgery with many daggers in his back and shoe prints on his backside?

Well, I don't know which Trinbagonian situation you expected me to address but in this post, I addressed mine.

Nina Simone is interpreting the song "Feelings". I can perhaps understand your bemusement because her unconventional interpretation startled me at first but I stayed with her. Sometimes a little patience and a little openness goes a long way when an uncommon performer is breaking the conventions to try to meet us outside of our crates.

While she is singing, I find myself thinking about my own feelings of love for my homeland T&T. For personal reasons, I find myself outside of T&T. I did not leave because I was pushed out. I did not go to any of the countries in which I have lived over the years seeking refugee status. I did not arrive in any of these countries with the expectation that my life would be better there. I had never been interested in megastores and malls, in skyscrapers and big cities, in night life and physical adornment and baubles, so apart from whatever natural beauty I could enjoy, these places hold no special attraction for me. Yes, I had been a victim of violent crime in T&T and I have family members who thankfully survived robberies and physical assaults but this had nothing to do with my decision to leave.

Unlike some others though, I have not been able to put Trinbago behind me. I did not run onto the plane with a sense of relief. I have never felt triumph at having "escaped" from T&T. I have never sneered at my people or my country. I have never felt the tiniest shame to say that I am Trinbagonian. Not even my Trinbagonian accent and way of speaking will I relinquish. I open my mouth and people know that I am not one of them and I am proud that I am not some sad chameleon blending in and shedding what my country gave to me.

But everything has its shadow side and my love calls me back, makes it so I don't want to put down roots anywhere else, fixes it so I'm basically always telling the world, "I cannot love you. I'm so taken already by my own." This is why I do not mock the Trinbagonians abroad who express a desire to return. I know what they are experiencing and I do not ever think that they are somehow crazy for feeling the way they do.

So back to the song and the conflict that it expresses. I am aware that because of my feelings of love, I have made myself vulnerable, I wish sometimes that it had not happened. I wish that I had not known this love because if I never return, I will have to live wherever I am with this longing.

Nina sings it like if she is composing it straight from the gut. At the end she improvises and declares that she will always have her feelings of love no matter what...no matter what happens...And as she says these words, I am thinking about all the ways in which Trinbago has been a assaulted, in the name of progress and development by dreamers with alien wants and visions...all the influences that alter and often irreparably so.

She says/I say:


"...you'll always stay here in my heart
no matter what the words may say
you will stay here in my heart
no matter what the day
you will stay here in my heart
no matter what they say
no matter what they compose or do
no matter what the drugs may do
or songs may do
what people may do
or machines will do to you...
I will always have my feelings
nothing can destroy that
'Cause I know that that is all that there is....for you."

After this, I included a very simple and hastily composed poem in rhyming verse that explains that although I am not with you all, I am thinking as always about you. I reminded us all that there is nothing magical about a New Year coming in, in that the new year itself will not change anything. I concluded by saying that whether the year finds us at peace or winning the war, it must not find us on our knees, in other words, surrendered. "Donnez-vous le pouvoir" "Give yourselves the power" is my exhortation to us all to take back the power that is ours. And I am not addressing any one ethnic group, I am not addressing any gender or class or age or religious or political group. I am addressing us all as the humane human beings that we all are when we take off our "game faces."

I hope that this clarifies things for you. All the best to you and yours for the New Year.