"We (in Trinbago) want to see ourselves — as one", historian Dr Brinsley Samaroo told a panel discussion at the National Academy of Performing Arts during the recent 50th anniversary Independence celebrations.
His sense is that the people of Trinbago are in search of a new political formula — one that transcends the divisions of race, which we inherited from the "authoritarian British Crown Colony" system.
He deduces a new mood, in which people across the country, are saying that they want our politicians, and our practice of politics to go beyond the divisions of race.
On the ground, people are recognising that racial divisions are destructive, and are moving away from the "us-and-them" paradigm in search of a new construct, the distinguished historian added.
Dr Samaroo, along with Reggie Dumas, former head of the Public Service, and Senior Counsel Dana Seetahal, formed a panel discussion organised by the Trinidad and Tobago National Archives to mark our celebrations.
Sitting as chairperson of that panel, I speculated to the audience that Dr Samaroo's terse line, "We want to see ourselves — as one", could be Trinbago's tagline, as they say in advertising, over its next 50 years.
From Mr Dumas came the response that there is an imperative that Trinbago move towards a national conversation on race. He expressed his disappointment that planners of our Independence celebrations, focused solely on fetes, fireworks and parades, excluding critical public discussions, such as a conversation on race.
It should be noted that last February Dr Samaroo warned that Trinbago was experiencing "another period of disaffection", and therefore "ripe once again, with all of these various dissatisfactions for a resurgence once more".
Add to this warning, the statement by Planning Minister Dr Bhoe Tewarie on May 10 that within Trinbago there is the capacity for brutality, callousness and insensitivity.
Add also the observation last week of Anglican Dean Knolly Clarke that Trinbago is an angry nation, in need of healing.
They all add further urgency to Mr Dumas's point. But how should we frame a discussion on race? First, any attempt at a national discussion must be seen, up front, as genuine, given the sensitivities and suspicions among the African, Indians, mixed and other races.
Since the present government came into power in May 2010, anxieties seem to appear stronger on all sides. So calls for a discussion could have various interpretations — indications of weakness, or betrayals among the tribes, rather than a commitment to the dialogue needed in a search for equity and justice.
Our circumstance is very far from the "killing fields" that confronted Mandela on his release from prison.
But we should observe his approach in which he appealed to "the mercy and generosity" within the "human hearts" of the murderous Inkatha and ANC supporters, who rampaged those fields.
"No one is born hating another because of the colour of his skin, background, or religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite," Mandela appealed.
The reconciliation processes Mandela adopted to confront the racial and tribal divisions may hold some lessons for us as we talk about formulating a conversation.
As we go about it, the events of the past week continue to emphasise the urgency for the issues of governance, transparency and accountability to be reviewed, also.
Such a review will help us determine how Energy Minister Kevin Ramnarine could announce on August 16 that the Cabinet had awarded a bunkering contract to Bunkers Oil, removing that operation from State-owned Petrotrin, and awarding it to a Miami-based multi-national company.
Last week, while the Minister was trying to distance himself from that announcement, the Canal brothers, John and Alfred were speaking openly in Miami of the licence they were granted by the T&T Government.
We should observe that accountability in public office is clearly on the international agenda. In Urkraine, the former prime minister is serving a seven-year sentence and a US $190 million fine for a gas deal she brokered with Russia, from which her country lost US$6 billion in revenue.
Former politicians are being called to account for their decisions in office in Argentina, Bulgaria, Romania, India, and other countries.
So as we review, we may wish to question the expenditure on our Independence celebrations — the tendering procedures, and the companies that benefitted.
Also the flip-flop of Social Development Minister, Dr Glenn Ramadharsingh, who promised that the 6,000 persons, who received additional benefits on their food cards, would not be discomforted.
The service providers, responsible for the glitch would be held responsible he said originally. Last Friday, like Minister Ramnarine, Ramadharsingh was attempting to change his original script.
It is not a new style; Education Minister Dr Tim Gopeesingh had to dance away from his claim on school repairs, and Finance Minister Larry Howai on what he described as "austerity measures".
And then, there's the dance of Jack!
• Keith Subero, a former Express news editor, has since followed
a career in communication