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angry penguin


Scritturare (engage)

Brian Alleyne's weblog on culture, politics, and technology

Decline of the West (a very personal reflection)
angry penguin
My father was an ex-colonial nationalist. In the  late 1950s and early 1960s, before I was born, I gather that he took a decision to stake a claim to the soon to be independent nation sate of Trinidad Tobago. In this he was very much at odds with his own siblings, and indeed those of my mother, all of whom saw the coming independence of Trinidad as a plot by the British to rid themselves of the problem of acceding to full political rights for the people of the islands. While my parents stayed on, their siblings all left for England, and never returned to live in the island. Most never even had Trinidadian passports, since they left while the island was still a British colony.

I have always wondered about that decision on my father’s part. About his belief in the emergence of new nations in the aftermath of colonialism. He had hope. He died in 1978, when I  was 13,  so I never had the chance to talk fully  about these issues with him. What would he have made of my own decision to settle in the UK, I wonder?

I grew up hearing a great deal about Fanon, and Mao, and Castro, of course. One of my most enduring memories of childhood was being taken by my father to see an exhibition, organised  by Communist China, that toured the Caribbean and central America, around 1974 or ‘75. I remember my dad admiring some Chinese-made  tractors. He said to me and my brothers: “The British and Americans will never admit that the Chinese can compete in industry. But one day China will overtake them.  We in the Caribbean should be aligned with China.”

After all of these years I smile at that memory. My dad would have had a great deal to say about China being asked to bail out the rich and powerful West.