PORT OF SPAIN, TRINIDAD: One of the biggest problems facing our society; the problem of “Cultural Ignorance".
Recently, an MBA student looked at me, turned up his nose and in the most condescending tone asked “Carnival Studies…what is that? Where are you going to work with that?” My initial reaction was to respond, “that’s none of your business,” but then I realised that I have a responsibility to educate the ignorant in society. It also dawned on me that many citizens in our society, like that student, are clueless about the benefits of learning and appreciating our own history. It was on this premise, that I decided not to turn a blind eye to our current dilemma and instead highlight one of the biggest problems facing our society; the problem of “cultural ignorance.”
Culture is more than gyrating in a carnival fete and parading in bikini and beads on a Carnival Monday and Tuesday. It is more than drinking rum and liming till sunrise because ‘dah is we culture.’ Culture sets standards for behaviour, belief systems, language, norms and values. Culture is necessary for society to function; without culture there would be absolute chaos (as in the case of the current state of Trinidad and Tobago). Culture plays a significant role and needs to be included in every aspect of society.
Trinidad and Tobago is currently ailing from chronic cultural ignorance and it is evident in our homes, religious bodies, schools, business places, carnival and in our crime situation. Our value systems are diminishing; we are losing the very essence of what Trinbagonian society is made of. We have failed to educate the youth about their history and we are now being faced with a generation of lost citizens. Our youth are constantly seeking to be a part of something and adapting to different cultures because they do not know their own.
I am making the call for the powers that be to include our culture into our school curriculum at all levels. We need to learn and appreciate our country’s history, which would in turn reinstate our love for country. We need to bring back community love and enforce the importance of family, through cultural education. This measure would be instrumental in our crime fighting initiative and in our overall quest to make Trinidad and Tobago great again.