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Can we reclaim the soul of La Trinity?

By Dr Marlene Attzs, Economist

Email: marlene.attzs@gmail.com


As I listened to the homily on the Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity, I reflected on how blessed we truly are in T&T.

According to historical accounts, during his third voyage to the Americas in 1498, Christopher Columbus became the first European explorer to reach the island of Trinidad; he landed on the island’s southwest coast.

Columbus, it is said, named the island ‘Trinidad’, Spanish for ‘Trinity’, because the three peaks of the Trinity Hills reminded him of the Holy Trinity—indeed, God might really be a Trini!

Notwithstanding our early and blessed ‘discovery’, nowadays our daily diet of crime and violence coupled with economic woes and a moral and social fabric that seems in urgent need of repair, begs the question if we are so blessed to be named after the Holy Trinity, what has become of the soul of La Trinity?

Every nation, like every individual, has a unique soul that defines its essence and character. This soul is a complex tapestry woven from our history, cultural traditions, values, beliefs, and collective experiences of our citizens.

T&T’s soul is the intangible spirit that gives us our identity, shapes our worldview, and guides our actions on the global stage.

It is what we stand for.

For us in T&T, apart from our festivals, including Carnival, our national soul can be expressed as our appreciation for the range of national cuisine, the collective sense of pride we feel watching our athletes take the podium at the Olympics or watching our national representative make it to the top four of the Miss World competition—the energy of our collective soul is laid bare for the world to see on these occasions.

This ‘soul of a nation’ to which I refer is not something that can be easily quantified or reduced to a set of statistics. It is an elusive, ephemeral quality that manifests in the art, literature, music, and folklore of our people.

It is reflected in the rituals and customs that are passed down through generations, and in the ways in which a nation responds to challenges and crises.

At its core, the soul of a nation reflects the shared humanity of its citizens—their hopes, dreams, struggles, and collective sense of purpose. It is the intangible glue that binds a people together, even in the face of diversity, division, and change. Think of it as what identifies us as ‘Trinis to d bone’.

Calypso and music have long been one expression of T&T’s soul. Take your pick from the Mighty Sniper’s ‘Portrait of Trinidad’ to the Mighty Sparrow’s ‘Unity’ to Kitchener’s ‘Carnival is Over’ to Rudder’s ‘Hammer’ to Relator’s ‘Food Prices’ to Black Stalin’s ‘Bun Dem’ to Ras Shorty’s ‘Watch out my Children’ to Shadow’s ‘Poverty is Hell’ to Lord Nelson’s ‘King Liar’ to Ella Andall’s ‘Missing Generation’ to Kes’ ‘Savannah Grass’ to Mical Teja’s ‘DNA’.  These classics, among others, reflect our soul.

Then you add the mastery of a Mungal Patasar, a Jit Samaroo, a Rudolph Charles, or a Pelham Goddard–you see where I’m going.

In addition to music, our shared beliefs and values also should reflect our national ‘soul’ –those ethical principles that guide the collective behaviour and decision-making of our citizens.

These values should originate at home and then solidified in our schools and places of religious worship. Alas, all can agree that we are witnessing a (rapid) breakdown of shared beliefs and values.

In an increasingly interconnected and globalised world, the soul of a nation is constantly being challenged, reshaped, and reimagined, as it grapples with the forces of cultural exchange, technological advancement, and the shifting geopolitical landscape.

As national borders become more porous and the flow of people, ideas, and goods accelerates, the traditional boundaries and definitions of national identity are being called into question.

In this globalised space, one wonders how many of our youth even are aware of Trinidad and Tobago’s connection to La Trinity.

T&T’s ability to navigate the challenges ahead requires us to draw upon the strength and resilience of our collective soul, so that we can emerge as a more cohesive, equitable, and prosperous entity.

Where we are as a country—the exogenous threats impacting on our economy, the social issues impacting our people—all require us to identify and reclaim the soul of our country, if we are to survive and thrive amid all the uncertainties.

That’s my point of view!