- 30 MAY 2023
Prime Minister’s Indian Arrival Day Message 2023
Message to the nation from Dr the Honourable Keith Rowley Prime Minister of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago on the occasion of Indian Arrival Day 2023
Fellow Citizens, greetings to members of the East Indian community, as they celebrate the arrival of the first indentured immigrants to our shores on May 30, 1845.
These greetings are extended officially from the Government of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, my own family, and myself as Prime Minister.
Let us all join with the community, as today they not only reflect on their past, but some may contemplate their further contributions to the nation-state of Trinidad and Tobago.
Professor of History, Dr Brinsley Samaroo documents the abhorrence of both the Indian and African experiences, under British colonial rule.
It must be acknowledged that the thousands of immigrants, leaving their homes in India, for various reasons, would have held varying degrees of fear, yet there was the anticipation of a better life, only to be confronted with many tricks and trials.
The first may have been the three-month crossing of the “Kala-pani”, considered as “the black waters”, between India and “Chinitat”, then to be greeted, sadly, in a land that said they were a people that had “no religion, no education, and in their present state, no wants beyond eating, drinking and sleeping.”
Although there was the option of returning to India, after five years on the sugar plantation, they endured the prolonged experience of suffering and sacrifice.
They were managed under a system of criminal laws, designed to keep them under control.
They, however, responded with strategies of solidarity and maintained their connection to their religion and their ancestral culture.
Today, this community can boast of its contribution to our nation-state. The peasant, agricultural skills of the early immigrants were passed on to succeeding generations.
The community’s contributions to the creation of modern Trinidad and Tobago could be identified visibly in medicine, law, the sciences, engineering, literature, arts, manufacturing, in the successful family businesses in the services sector, and in the highest levels of public service.
I maintain that there is no contradiction, between a person recognizing his or her ancestral heritage, on one hand, and pledging unwavering support to the nation-state of Trinidad and Tobago, on the other.
I believe that, at this point, all citizens need to mobilise and focus on our collective efforts and hopes for a better Trinidad and Tobago.
To do otherwise is to be haunted by “ethnic ghosts,” and to perpetuate the agendas of those among us, who refused to see hope — but instead only fear, racial divisiveness, hatred, bitterness, unrest, and dissension.
Fellow Citizens, let us all recognise that we are all first and foremost Trinidadians and Tobagonians, a melting pot of varying characteristics, attitudes and mannerisms – with a mentality and temperament that are all, in the main, cheerful, fun-loving and positive, which make us a mighty people of unlimited talents and endless potential.
Our identity may have been fashioned by two distinct elements of history but today we strive together, day by day, towards a brighter future — a people reaching for their national watch-words of Discipline, Production and Tolerance.
May we all have an enjoyable Indian Arrival Day.