Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Tea with Presidents. RIP Robbie, Sir Ellis, Noor #TheEmperorsNewTools #LettersToLizzie

The passing of Trinidad and Tobago's former President and Prime Minister ANR Robinson provokes these reminisces from #unesco #194ex on former heads of state, now passed, I met, knew and with whom I was fortunate to have shared thoughts and ideas on the state of Caribbean development.
Among those passed were the country's First President, Sir Ellis Clarke; its second, Noor Hassanali and Mr Robinson, the third.  I have also known the Fourth President, Max Richards, as Principal f the UWI when I was a student there, but later too as President, and his wife, the First Lady Jean Richards partnered with me in my LiTTribute to the Republic on the special publication on the 50th Anniversary of the Independence of Trinidad and Tobago through my book LiTTscapes - Landscapes of Fiction from Trinidad and Tobago on the 50th Anniversary of Independence - but they are still with us.  
My first live encounter with Sir Ellis was when I was about ten, holder of a pichakaree filled with colourful abeer liquid one sunny Phagwa/Holi harvest festival day. I couldn't resist breaking ranks against official warning to only gentilly spray abeer on his garments, especially as his bald head seemed in need of liquid relief from the stinging Trini sunshine. He entertained the wetting goodnaturedly, as anyone from Carnival country (you cyar play mas' and 'fraid powder) will, whipping out his pristine white handkerchief to mop up the colourful liquid rolling down his face.
I reminded him of the incident many moons later, and just a few months before his passing as he poured me a cup of tea while we discussed the issue of the need for constitutional reform and his chuckle almost caused him to spill over the teacup.  He was in the midst of his own controversial virtual one-man redraft of the Constitution and my own interest in public processes and the role of our leaders in this, took me to his home. Sir Ellis could always be looked to for good humour, good conversation, good manners, supreme diplomacy and indeed impeccable teatime manners.
Noor too, could also always be counted on for good conversation and dry humour over a pot of tea, usually facilitated by Mrs Hassanali. My first encounter with him was as a cub reporter when he paused in the midst of his keynote address, looking directly at me, to ask rhetorically if the newspaper where I was then employed as a cub reporter was encouraging child labour - a comment on my then petite size. My last meeting with his was also a few months before he passed, as we sat down to tea at his home and his jovial reminisces on his boyhood exploits in courting the minute but statuesque woman from South Trinidad who would become the country's second First Lady, Zalayhar.
His Presidential inauguration was one of the most heartwarming occasions in public pomp and ceremony I can recall and to which I had front row seats in coverage, as with the inauguration of  Tobago's Castara kid who became Chairman of the Tobago House of Assembly, and leader of the Democratic Action Congress that paved his way for elevation to first Prime Ministership and later President.
But Robinson was altogether a different cup of tea, and not given to sharing or engaging in tea sipping, or not to my knowledge. Our encounters were less sociable and more socially or politically motivated as I was launching my journalism career covering what is still seen as the most historic of Trinidad and Tobago elections in 1986 and his subsequent political mobility. The National Alliance for Reconstruction which he led became the forerunner of coalition party politics that inspired the People's Partnership of the current +Kamla Persad Bissessar's regime - and she herself has admitted to being politically birthed through germination in the NAR's political incubator of social and political ideals that ANR's NAR inspired.
I have always viewed the almost mirror-like resonance of the acronyms in the above as deliberate in its egotistic reverberations and in every way the bad pun it might seem to be, as is the title of his 1986 compilation of speeches, Caribbean Man . 
Robinson's entire public career has been a mixed pot of tea,  mired as his political life was in controversies of various kind. He stands out at the centerpiece in a number of significant national occurrences -  including his breaking of ranks with Dr Eric Williams'  PNM Government in the 1970s, the break-up of the NAR in 1988; the attempted coup of 1990, the collapse of the UNC, the ensuing political deadlocks and the various constitutional challenges that showed up the growing irrelevance of our hand-me-down national Constitution.
He was also a figure who impacted the international arena, foremost among which was in his initiation of moves towards establishing the International Criminal Court as I discussed his passing with colleagues on the UNESCO Executive Board. 
The mixed reactions to his death is therefore no surprise, and reminds me of the barrage of historical and social bile that I encountered as they resurfaced in the UK last year on the passing of Britain's Prime Minister for the legendary iron lady Margaret Thatcher - resonance over unpopular social reform measures that took her out of office in Britain.
As Robinson's life is celebrated this week and in light of the focus on praise on his good deeds, his interment ought to be followed by retrospection of  his true impact as our societies also try to make good of our experiences and the contributions or failures of those who have been charged to lead us.
Humility might not be one of the descriptions one may use in relation to Arthur NR Robinson, but if anything, his life, and the lives of those who went before him should serve as a humble reminder to our leaders of today of the one unchanging reality of power holders - their mortality; and that their immortalisation rests with their mortal actions - what they might have done to break up, or build up, the spaces that accommodated them will linger long after they are gone, and even colour the tone of mourning them. RIP Arthur NR Robinson, Sir Ellis Clarke, Noor Hassanali.

                         Alas Poor King Richard's Bones 
                         Dem Red House Bones
                         The Ghosts of Journalism Past
                          A Tale of Two Skeletons
                         The Human Face of Constitution Reform
                          Making Local Government Work
                          Wave a Flag for a Party Rag
                           To Vote How We Party
                         The Magic and Realism of Marquez
                         LiTTribute to LondonTTown
                         LiTTribute to the Antilles 
                          LiTTribute to Antiguan Authors
                           Winds of Political Change

Apr 07, 2013
Old Casked Rum: The Emperor's New Tools#1 - Towards Constitutional Reform in T&T. So we've had the rounds of consultations on Constitutional Reform? Are we any wiser? Do we have a sense of direction that will drive ...
Apr 30, 2013
Valuing Carnival The Emperor's New Tools#2. 
Oct 20, 2013
Choosing the Emperor's New Troops. The dilemma of choice. Voting is supposed to be an ... Old Casked Rum: The Emperor's New Tools#1 - Towards Constitutional Reform in T&T. Posted by Kris Rampersad at 10:36 AM ...
Feb 26, 2014
This Demokrissy series, The Emperor's New Tools, continues and builds on the analysis of evolution in our governance, begun in the introduction to my book, Through the Political Glass Ceiling (2010): The Clash of Political ...

Feb 10, 2014
This Demokrissy series, The Emperor's New Tools, continues and builds on the analysis of evolution in our governance, begun in the introduction to my book, Through the Political Glass Ceiling (2010): The Clash of Political ...
Apr 22, 2014
It is placing increasing pressure for erasure of barriers of geography, age, ethnicity, gender, cultures and other sectoral interests, and in utilising the tools placed at our disposal to access our accumulate knowledge and technologies towards eroding these superficial barriers. In this context, we believe that the work of UNESCO remains significant and relevant and that UNESCO is indeed the institution best positioned to consolidate the ..... The Emperor's New Tools ...
Jun 15, 2010
The Emperor's New Tools. Loading... AddThis. Bookmark and Share. Loading... Follow by Email. About Me. My Photo · Kris Rampersad. Media, Cultural and Literary Consultant, Facilitator, Educator and Practitioner. View my ...
                          

DoTT - Why the San Fernando Hill matters

DoTT  TT Film shortfilm smartphone contest closes May 2

http://youtu.be/Z6w0J5URJDs

Monday, April 28, 2014

Look who dropped in Hollywood connects with Caribbean culture

Look who dropped in on #Unesco Executive Board #194exbd. Forest Whitaker is a UNESCO Ambassador for Peace and was happy to engage in discussions on potential of Caribbean creative sector  at a soiree of delegation of Japan at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris...
more...
In photo Trinidad and Tobago's Representative of the UNESCO Executive Board Dr Kris Rampersad and UNESCO Ambassador for Peace Hollyood Actor/Producer Forest Whitaker

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Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Futuring the Post-2015 UNESCO Agenda

Inaugural Address at 194th session of UNESCO Executive Board, Paris, France
Dr Kris Rampersad, Trinidad and Tobago Representative on UNESCO Executive Board 2013-2017 at the 194th Session of the UNESCO Executive, Paris, April 2014


Dr Kris Rampersad, Trinidad and Tobago Representative on the  UNESCO 
Executive Board (centre) co-chairs with the UK a joint session of the 
Finance and Administration and Programmes and External Affairs Committee  
during the 194th session of the  UNESCO Executive Board in Paris.  
Photo Courtesy Kris Rampersad. All Rights Reserved
Greetings on behalf of the Government and People of Trinidad and Tobago who welcome, admire, respect and support the Director General’s initiatives to reform and restructure UNESCO and her intensive drive to use soft diplomacy which we believe is crucial to significantly impact the post-2015 agenda as we transition from priorities of the Millennium Development Goals and consolidate the gains of them through more focussed Sustainable Development Goals.
Trinidad and Tobago pledges its commitment to engaging in this process of futuring the operations of UNESCO to remain relevant and responsive to a global environment of dynamic and effervescent change. It is an environment that is demanding greater inclusivity. It is placing increasing pressure for erasure of barriers of geography, age, ethnicity, gender, cultures and other sectoral interests, and in utilising the tools placed at our disposal to access our accumulate knowledge and technologies towards eroding these superficial barriers.
In this context, we believe that the work of UNESCO remains significant and relevant and that UNESCO is indeed the institution best positioned to consolidate the gains of the past towards carving responsive and relevant paths to progress that address the needs of generations to come. Foremost among these seems to be combating the ennui and disenchantment at failed and failing macro political, institutional and bureaucratic formulas, systems and structures in favour of more glocally (global-local) focussed initiatives that emphasis and value empowerment of individuals, communities and civil society to explore their full potential.
Certainly there is much more that needs to be done to particularly better utilise new technologies in making our work here at UNESCO more effective and more relevant.
We reiterate the call made by the Trinidad and Tobago Minister of Education to the Director General at the last General Assembly, that UNESCO, along with its focus on other disadvantaged groups as women and children in general, take a lead role in championing actions throughout the United Nations system that would directly impact and bring in to the mainstream the estimated 30 percent of the global population of special needs children who are still severely marginalised and handicapped by current existing systems in education, culture, science and information.
We support our colleagues speaking on behalf of strengthening the culture initiatives having regard to the direct benefits this is having from the work done in our societies where for many the main sources of income and survival reside in leveraging their talents and skills as the counter to the haemorrhaging of national resources, by exploitative, corrupt and ineffective systems and practices. We endorse  the culture-centred development drive that recognises not just intercultural linkages but also cross sectoral links.
At the same time, we particularly commend the drive to synergise and harmonise sustainable actions in biocultural diversity and acknowledgement of the intrinsic interplay between physical, mental and emotional cultural spaces and the potential to either erode, or energise these through use of scientific understanding and technologies.
In this regard, we believe compilations as the 2013 Creative Economy Report could achieve greater depth were it to more fully explore the cross-sectoral cost-benefit analysis of the co-relation between the creative and cultural sectors and other out-of- the-box-areas - as the economic value of social and culturally inclusive practices on political stability for instance – an area of analysis that is sadly lacking and could provide the data, if not ammunition, needed by UNESCO in pursuit of its motto of building peace in the minds of men and women.
As such, we look forward to deepening of UNESCO’s intersectoral increasing drive to promote multisectoral partnerships, and collaborative mechanisms through cross institutional and cross regional platforms, including with other institutions of the United Nations.
It is in these contemporary areas of UNESCO’s focus, including its now developing perspective on Big Ocean Sustainable States (Boss)  – the informal rebrand of SIDS - Small Island Developing States posited at the last General Conference - that we in the Caribbean believe we can draw the greatest strength, given our evolution from a history of fragmentation, violence, migration and marginalisation.








The Caribbean Sea at once connects and separates us from all the regions of the world. It presents to the UNESCO community beyond the hard politics of power and dominance, a living example for survival and resilience that endures despite and through a history of genocide of indigeneous peoples, slavery, forced indentureship, and migration.
Such resilience is represented in the survival of religious and cultural practices, habits and beliefs: the vibrant celebrations that range from pre-Columbian festivities of the Mayans, Incas, Tainos and others to the evolving festivities of migrated peoples: the Garifuna and Rastafari from oppressed African heritage; and others transposed from the East – the resilient Ramleela, Chinese Dragon festivities, and their evolving fusions in our cuisine, music, dance, drama, our Carnivals and steelpan, reggae, zouk and chutney. All of these present significance to UNESCO ideals of peoples, who beyond conflict and tensions, are finding ways to celebrate their migrations, cultural contact and shared occupation of our natural environment.
Yet, our space is at the same time, severely endangered by the risks of climate change and sea level rise, deforestation, poor land use practices and pollution and other development challenges.
We believe that the UNESCO mechanisms in science, education, information and culture can be more effectively used to bridge these divides, and to help us to further explore, capture and harness these experiences for the benefit of building peace in the minds of men and women
Even as we admire the creative initiatives of the Director General to balance a shrinking budget in challenging financial times, we pledge to work with her for further rationalisation, while we particularly look forward to better engagement and more equitable treatment of the countries of the Caribbean. We form part of the Latin American and Caribbean UNESCO region, and represent almost 40 percent of the votes from this region, but not an equivalent allocation of UNESCO resources. In its programme of restructuring, we would also suggest that UNESCO look at ways of redressing of imbalances in its institutional structure and mechanisms of field and national offices in our region where of 12 offices in the region, only one – located in Kingston - serves the 13 member and four associated members of CARICOM.
We assure you of our commitment and support to the Director General’s goal of making UNESCO more relevant and more effective.
I thank you
Dr Kris Rampersad, UNESCO Executive Board April 2014


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Old Casked Rum: The Emperor's New Tools#1 - Demokrissy - Blogger
Apr 07, 2013 Old Casked Rum: The Emperor's New Tools#1 - Towards Constitutional Reform in T&T. So we've had the rounds of consultations on Constitutional Reform? Are we any wiser? Do we have a sense of direction that will drive ...http://kris-rampersad.blogspot.com/
Demokrissy: Valuing Carnival The Emperor's New Tools#2
Apr 30, 2013 Valuing Carnival The Emperor's New Tools#2....http://kris-rampersad.blogspot.com/
See Also:
Demokrissy: Winds of Political Change - Dawn of T&T's Arab Spring
Jul 30, 2013 Wherever these breezes have passed, they have left in their wake wide ranging social and political changes: one the one hand toppling long time leaders with rising decibels from previously suppressed peoples demanding a ...http://kris-rampersad.blogspot.com/
Demokrissy: Reform, Conform, Perform or None of the Above cross ...
Oct 25, 2013 Some 50 percent did not vote. The local government elections results lends further proof of the discussion began in Clash of Political Cultures: Cultural Diversity and Minority Politics in Trinidad and Tobago in Through The ...http://kris-rampersad.blogspot.com/
Demokrissy: Sounds of a party - a political party
Oct 14, 2013 They are announcing some political meeting or the other; and begging for my vote, and meh road still aint fix though I hear all parts getting box drains and thing, so I vex. So peeps, you know I am a sceptic so help me decide. http://kris-rampersad.blogspot.com/
Demokrissy: T&T Constitution the culprit | The Trinidad Guardian
Jun 15, 2010 T&T Constitution the culprit | The Trinidad Guardian · T&T Constitution the culprit | The Trinidad Guardian. Posted by Kris Rampersad at 8:20 AM · Email ThisBlogThis!Share to TwitterShare to Facebook ...http://kris-rampersad.blogspot.com/
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Demokrissy: To vote, just how we party … Towards culturally ...
Apr 30, 2010 'How we vote is not how we party.' At 'all inclusive' fetes and other forums, we nod in inebriated wisdom to calypsonian David Rudder's elucidation of the paradoxical political vs. social realities of Trinidad and Tobago. http://kris-rampersad.blogspot.com/
Demokrissy: DEADLOCK: Sign of things to come
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Demokrissy: T&T politics: A new direction? - Caribbean360 Oct 01, 2010 http://kris-rampersad.blogspot.com/
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Apr 30, 2013 Valuing Carnival The Emperor's New Tools#2....http://kris-rampersad.blogspot.com/
See Also:
Demokrissy: Winds of Political Change - Dawn of T&T's Arab Spring
Jul 30, 2013 Wherever these breezes have passed, they have left in their wake wide ranging social and political changes: one the one hand toppling long time leaders with rising decibels from previously suppressed peoples demanding a ...http://kris-rampersad.blogspot.com/
Demokrissy: Reform, Conform, Perform or None of the Above cross ...
Oct 25, 2013 Some 50 percent did not vote. The local government elections results lends further proof of the discussion began in Clash of Political Cultures: Cultural Diversity and Minority Politics in Trinidad and Tobago in Through The ...http://kris-rampersad.blogspot.com/
Demokrissy: Sounds of a party - a political party
Oct 14, 2013 They are announcing some political meeting or the other; and begging for my vote, and meh road still aint fix though I hear all parts getting box drains and thing, so I vex. So peeps, you know I am a sceptic so help me decide. http://kris-rampersad.blogspot.com/
Demokrissy: T&T Constitution the culprit | The Trinidad Guardian
Jun 15, 2010 T&T Constitution the culprit | The Trinidad Guardian · T&T Constitution the culprit | The Trinidad Guardian. Posted by Kris Rampersad at 8:20 AM · Email ThisBlogThis!Share to TwitterShare to Facebook ...http://kris-rampersad.blogspot.com/
Related:
Demokrissy: To vote, just how we party … Towards culturally ...
Apr 30, 2010 'How we vote is not how we party.' At 'all inclusive' fetes and other forums, we nod in inebriated wisdom to calypsonian David Rudder's elucidation of the paradoxical political vs. social realities of Trinidad and Tobago. http://kris-rampersad.blogspot.com/
Demokrissy: DEADLOCK: Sign of things to come
Oct 29, 2013 An indication that unless we devise innovative ways to address representation of our diversity, we will find ourselves in various forms of deadlock at the polls that throw us into a spiral of political tug of war albeit with not just ...http://kris-rampersad.blogspot.com/
Demokrissy: The human face of constitutional reform
Oct 16, 2013 Sheilah was clearly and sharply articulating the deficiencies in governmesaw her: a tinymite elderly woman, gracefully wrinkled, deeply over with concerns about political and institutional stagnation but brimming over with ... http://kris-rampersad.blogspot.com/
Demokrissy: Trini politics is d best
Oct 21, 2013 Ain't Trini politics d BEST! Nobody fighting because they lose. All parties claiming victory, all voting citizens won! That's what make we Carnival d best street party in the world. Everyone are winners because we all like ...http://kris-rampersad.blogspot.com/
New Media, New Civil Society, and Politics in a New Age - Demokrissy
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Oct 01, 2010 http://kris-rampersad.blogspot.com/
Others: Demokrissy: Old Casked Rum: The Emperor's New Tools#1 ...
Apr 07, 2013
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http://kris-rampersad.blogspot.com/

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http://kris-rampersad.blogspot.com/
Demokrissy: Futuring the Post-2015 UNESCO Agenda
Apr 22, 2014
It is placing increasing pressure for erasure of barriers of geography, age, ethnicity, gender, cultures and other sectoral interests, and in utilising the tools placed at our disposal to access our accumulate knowledge and technologies towards eroding these superficial barriers. In this context, we believe that the work of UNESCO remains significant and relevant and that UNESCO is indeed the institution best positioned to consolidate the ..... The Emperor's New Tools ...
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Demokrissy: Cutting edge journalism
Jun 15, 2010
The Emperor's New Tools. Loading... AddThis. Bookmark and Share. Loading... Follow by Email. About Me. My Photo · Kris Rampersad. Media, Cultural and Literary Consultant, Facilitator, Educator and Practitioner. View my ...
http://kris-rampersad.blogspot.com/



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