Former leader of Black Power Revolution in Trinidad dies

Monday, August 08, 2016

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PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad (CMC) — Makandal Daaga, the leader of the 1970 Black Power Revolution in Trinidad and Tobago, died Monday at the Port of Spain General Hospital after suffering a seizure at his home. He was in his 70s.
Daaga was the former political leader of the National Joint Action Committee (NJAC) that in 2010 formed part of the coalition People’s Partnership that defeated the then ruling People’s National Movement (PNM) in the general election in May.
“Mr Daaga was battling the virus, the one that is going around now. But he was still walking around and talking as usual. He suffered a seizure and was taken to hospital where he died this afternoon. We spoke to him every day. He was always in good spirits,” the Trinidad Express newspaper quoted NJAC officials as saying.
Born Geddes Granger, he was appointed Caribbean Community (Caricom) Cultural Ambassador Extraordinaire by the Kamla Persad Bissessar-led coalition government.
He formed NJAC, while a student at the St Augustine campus of the University of the West Indies (UWI) in direct response to the discrimination against Caribbean students at Sir George Williams University (now Concordia), in Montreal, Canada.
On 26th November 1972, at a mass rally in San Fernando, south of here, Makandal declared that the ideology of the National Joint Action Committee “is nothing more than the demands of the people.
“NJAC’s motivation is nothing more than our love for the people. And our strength is nothing more than the interaction between our love for the people and the people’s love for their vanguard,” he added.
According to the NJAC website, “in Makandal’s estimation, leadership is not about being self-righteously and arrogantly lording power or authority over the people. To him therefore, humility must be one of the Cardinal virtues of leadership. This he has constantly practised.  His concept of leadership is given in the title, Chief Servant, which he has chosen and which was endorsed by the party.”
In 1974 he was made leader of the Caribbean Steering Committee for the 6th Pan African Conference that was held in Tanzania. This umbrella organisation had included the leadership of most, if not all progressive political organisations in the Caribbean, including Raymond Charlotte of Cayenne, the late Tim Hector of Antigua, Bobby Clarke of Barbados, Eusi Kwayana of Guyana, and the first left wing prime minister of Grenada, Maurice Bishop.
The website noted that Daaga paid a heavy price for his leadership and at one time he was banned from every Caribbean territory except Guyana.
Daaga was imprisoned on four different occasions.

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