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Some Trinidadians Remember

Source: TV6 News

By Kaelanne Jordan,, Twitter: @kaelanne1

Where were you and what do you remember of July 27, 1990?

Catholic News sought some answers as the nation reminisces on the Jamaat al Muslimeen attempted coup, 29 years later.

Akiela Hope: I was home, I think I was about 9/10 at that time. I was watching TV and suddenly it cut into the Little Mermaid. Just then, my mom came back home unexpectedly, because she had just left to be a spectator at a football game in the national stadium. She was on the phone with my, then stepfather who was in the military and from what I gathered from her side, something scary was going on outside and we were to stay inside. I heard a lot of sirens going by as well, the sirens and the conversation on the phone seemed to work in tandem. We lived St James at the time, close to Camp Ogden so activities where high in our area since it was alleged that many youths in the area had joined Abu Bakr’s plight/fight/belief. As I watched the television later on that evening and saw the man who was taking over speaking, I felt nervous but excited. I never really understood the seriousness of the matter until a few years later.

Roslyn Carrington: My mother and I were running a language camp for about 20 students from Martinique and Guadeloupe. They were living with different Trini families for about two weeks, spread around the country, and met every day for English classes and tours. That Friday was the last day and we were to meet in a restaurant in Chaguaramas for our last dinner before they flew home the next day. As you can imagine, for the next several days we were having to manage conversations with all those host homes, comfort the stranded kids, reassure the frantic parents overseas, and negotiate with the French Embassy to get those kids back home. It took about another five days. They’ll never forget that trip!

Gwendolyn Jackson-Ottley: I was home in Mason Hall, Tobago, five months pregnant with this reporter [Kealanne Jordan] watching TV alone. Whilst watching TV an announcement came across with Abu Bakr saying that he’s in control now. Same time I called out to my brother and told him to turn on the TV. I was surprised because I wanted to know what was really going on. For me the coup was an experience because no one was allowed to be on the street’s certain times. Being pregnant I was not really worried. I remember at one point going to work in the morning and a police vehicle saw me and the gentleman said ‘Madam, where you going, you don’t know it have a coup, go back home’. I left for this reporter’s father [laughing]. I still don’t really understand the reason for them doing that. There are things that I still don’t know….

Nicolle James: I was eight years when that happened. I remember watching TV and being told that we couldn’t go outside and had to be inside by 6 p.m. I remember standing on the porch and waiting for daddy to come because he would come to visit us that time. When we didn’t see him, I thought something bad happened. But I remember we use to be on the porch just looking out and you could feel the stillness of the place. The place was quiet. You could hear a pin drop for miles. It was like everybody in the village sleeping. One-time grandpa had gone out and granny was so worried because he didn’t come back. When he returned, he said he got stuck and they [the authorities] asked him what he was doing on the road and told him to hurry up and get home. 

LaShaun Ramdin: I lived in St Croix at that time, we were watching what was taking place on CNN. I was 13 and thought my country was destroyed. It seemed surreal.

Lara Pickford-Gordon: I was taking a nap when mommy woke me. It was like a bad dream. Mommy said the Muslims had taken over the country.

When I came to the living room Abu Bakr was on TV….The telephone line was coming and going…. The radio station 95 FM went off around 6 after playing one song by U2 ‘Sunday Bloody Sunday’. I thought about my friends and if I never saw them again and my workplace. I was a receptionist at a company in Belmont. Mommy had said a friend told her six policemen got shot so I was thinking the bloodshed had started. I was angry and confused and hoping and praying to be awakened from the bad dream.

Lorne Pickford-Gordon: I came from Mass and saw Yasin Abu Bakr and someone else on television. I thought it was a play with him—Bakr, holding a gun. He said they had taken over. I thought it was a joke. I remember the looting, and going into town and seeing flour, rice, sugar, from groceries thrown in [the] road mixed up. On Prince Street meat from a meat shop was thrown in road….

Laura Dowrich-Phillips: I was home, thought they were doing a Play of the Month on TV. Then I went by the library corner in Sando and heard it was a coup.