Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar failed to attend an Emancipation Awards and dinner function last night where she was scheduled to give the feature address. The function, which was held at the Centre of Excellence at Macoya, was hosted by the National Association for the Empowerment of African People NAEAP), which is led by T&T-born Professor, Selwyn Cudjoe. Her absence, from the NAEAP function, which was not officially explained, follows a failure by the Office of the Prime Minister to schedule a meeting with Assistant Secretary of State Arturo Valenzuela last week.
The Prime Minister's absence prompted a shuffling of the programme, which saw Opposition Leader Keith Rowley giving impromptu remarks at the function. In those remarks, Rowley said T&T's school curriculum has a gaping hole that should be occupied with a conscious teaching of our complete history. Rowley said, "We need to get our history taught as a matter of urgency. We are not properly taught our history," said Rowley. He said the assignment of empowering African people would not be easy. "The assignment is never going to be a simple one because you might not even be acknowledged by the very people you are trying to empower," Rowley said.
He said the T&T society is a complex one. President of the association Selwyn Cudjoe complimented Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar on her victory at the May 24 general election and the July 26 local government poll. But he said, "All the best wishes in the world cannot remove you and your government from human fraility." He said there must be a spokesperson who transcends party politics. Referring to the statement last year by Education Minister Tim Gopiesingh, when he was an Opposition MP, with regard to ethnic cleansing, Cudjoe said "Whether we like it or not, there will be more turbulent times for African people in this country."
Some of the guests who attended the function, which was held at the Centre of Excellence, owned by Works and Transport Minister Jack Warner, were President George Maxwell Richards and his wife, Port-of-Spain Mayor Murchison Browne and Central Bank Governoir Ewart Williams.