Afro-Trinidadian people in Trinidad and Tobago are in serious trouble, says Makandal Daaga, chief servant of the National Joint Action Committee (NJAC).
Daaga was speaking yesterday at an Emancipation luncheon hosted by Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar at the Diplomatic Centre, St Ann's.
Daaga, who was part of the Black Power movement in the country in 1970 and who was imprisoned, lamented that the young people now were not aware of the struggles and hardships that took place in the past.
He noted that he visited a school in Tobago and was introduced to 17 young people, none of whom knew anything about the history and the events of 1970.
"We have to face the fact that African people in this country are in serious trouble," said Daaga.
Daaga, who seemed emotional as he spoke for nearly 20 minutes, retracing the past, told the story of the "wickedness" and suffering he and others endured in prison.
He said prisoners were fearful to eat the bread given to them as they believed it was poisoned so they were forced to eat only the crust to survive.
He said that prisoners were also given biscuits which the prison officers threw on the floor and ground them with their shoes.
The prisoners, he said, picked up the ground biscuits and ate them.
Daaga said that more must be done other than dressing in ethnic wear for Emancipation and singing African songs. He urged the people to protect their assets and work towards development of the country.
Nigeria's Culture Minister Edem Duke, a guest at the luncheon, said that every country in the world had its challenges as he pointed out that Nigeria has a population of 167 million with 230 different ethnic groups and 774 local government areas.
This country, he said, was blessed as he spoke of his experience participating in Emancipation Day celebrations with Nigeria's President Goodluck Jonathan and Prime Minister Persad-Bissessar.
"I see a special country and I think that truly Trinidad and Tobago is blessed," said Duke.
Persad-Bissessar said there were many positives coming out from the State visit of the Nigerian president and his delegation.
She disclosed that a bilateral agreement for air links between this country and Nigeria was coming close to conclusion.