Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Cassava Khurma for China

As Pan Splash transforms Panorama into sun, sea and sand, the mind turns to Cassava Khurma from Tobago and Chinese salt prunes brought from Guangdong while grappling with the thought of just how hard it is to reconstruct the colonised imagination, bankrupt as it is.

Like so much else, this outrage over Pan Splash is beyond the boundaries of a splash. It is the eruption of a long-memoried pain and overwhelming sadness at yet another confirmation that yes, this is where Pan reach. To bring them to Pan, we must fool them with pool.

Marketing minds would appreciate the immediate value of hyping up the Panorama experience to draw crowds to the Savannah. After all, everyone else is maxing out the Carnival economy, so why not Pan?

So somebody with a big pool to rent saw the opportunity, Pan Trinbago had the need and voila! Pan in the Pool or Pan Drowning in the Pool, depending on where you stand.

The common theme on both sides of the debate is desperation. On one side, desperation for financial viability; on the other desperation over the resort to gimmickry for viability.

While Keith Diaz & Co could be pilloried for a decision that alienates important segments of the very community they are mandated to represent, it would be unfair to hold them fully to account for where Pan ain’t reach. That responsibility properly belongs to all of us.

The time has come for us to retrace our footsteps back to the beginning and re-chart a future for Pan, knowing all that we now know, and from the vantage point of having glimpsed the bleakness of the future predicated on calcified and irrelevant assumptions about value, organisation, innovation, entrepreneurship and development.

Every assumption that we have made to date about Pan should be put on the table for challenge, including those related to the mandate of Pan Trinbago and Pan Trinbago itself.

As with every indigenous creation, our colonised imagination has no idea of what to make of Pan, apart from mamaguying it with money and suffocating it with garlands of clichés, leaving Pan to make its own way in the world, through whatever hands are laid on it, by whatever luck of the draw, in places familiar and not.

All this continues while big money and exorbitant amounts of energy are consumed in touting borrowed concepts of innovation and entrepreneurship that actively work against innovation and entrepreneurship in this country.

The thing about the colonised imagination is that it is unable to see us as we are and, therefore, to see value in what we do. This is what explains the constant need for external validation. It takes others to see us and then we borrow their imagination to see ourselves as they see us. In neither case can we ever see ourselves as we are.

Our stubborn refusal to plumb our reality to understand ourselves, and our continuing willingness to be framed by the interpretations of others are deepening the dysfunction and leading us into doomed concepts and policies that are antithetical to the very purposes of innovation, entrepreneurship and wealth creation among the masses.

Our history of self-negation has so conditioned us that not only can we not recognise innovation and enterprise if they hit us in the face, but we are moved to annihilate and invalidate them wherever they dare show their faces. Though it hides behind modern terminology and celebrated global brands, the colonised imagination still runs this land in the service of appropriation and exploitation of value at the expense of those who create it.

Inevitably, the faces held up as prime examples of entrepreneurship and innovation belong to the old league of screwdriver industrialists, merchants and franchise-holders.

Meanwhile, innovation continues to dwell subversively, hidden in plain sight, while in secret places all over the land, entrepreneurship thrives in obscurity bordering on illegality.

Which brings me back to Cassava Khurma, available at the Cassava kiosk on the Esplanade in Scarborough.

When she packs her bags for China, the Prime Minister has the chance to return the favour owed to China for having addicted us to Chinese prunes, salt, sweet, and salt-and-sweet, so many years ago. Most possibly brought here by migrants from the Guangdong Province of China, Chinese prunes command a solid market in Trinidad and Tobago that has been retained for generations without innovation of any kind. Here now is the PM’s chance to conquer the Chinese palate and corner the market for the equally addictive Cassava Khurma, gluten-free with 100 per cent local content.

Imagine the foreign exchange potential from a market as massive as China, not to mention the linkages back to T&T agriculture.

Cassava Khurma is, of course, merely symbolic of the point being made of the dysfunctional nature of a value system bred by a history of self-contempt and self-rejection and which militates against indigenous innovation and entrepreneurship.

This is the same system that has Pan where it is today, dehydrated to the point where it needs a pool to save itself from dying of thirst.