‘HE HAS A LOT OF LOVE TO GIVE’: Rita Courtenay speaks with the Express at her home recently. —Photo: ANISTO ALVES

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Keith is not racist

Rowley’s ‘dougla sister’:

By Joel Julien joel.julien@trinidadexpress.com

DR Keith Rowley’s “dougla sister”, Rita Courtney, has defended him against accusations that he is racist.
Courtney, who grew up with Rowley at the same Mason Hall, Tobago home, is the child of an African father and East Indian mother.
“That (racism) is not in him. I cannot understand why they will associate him with that. I don’t know why they will try to associate him with that,” Courtney told the Express in an interview at her Don Miguel Road, San Juan home recently
On May 23, the Joint Trade Union Movement (JTUM) held a mass demonstration through the streets of Port of Spain entitled “It’s time to take a stand for Trinidad and Tobago”.
The Opposition People’s National Movement (PNM) led by its political leader Rowley participated in the march.
Photographs of people wearing red jerseys holding placards bearing “racist”statements were posted on social networking sites following the march.
The placard bearers were said to have been a part of the JTUM demonstration.
Courtney said Rowley would never condone anything like that.
“That (racism) is not him. I don’t know why they would try to get this boy involved in this thing (with the racist placards),” Courtney said.
Courtney, 77, is 12 years older than Rowley.
She was born in Marabella but moved to Tobago when she was just nine days old.
Courtney’s maternal grandfather Kali Sammy did not condone the relationship between Courtney’s parents, Beatrice Sammy and Ernest Edwards, and the child as a result of the union.
“My mother got pregnant and that is when the problem started. My grandmother had to get us out fast because he (Kali) had a gun and my father had to hide in Guayaguayare but he called his mother and told her what was happening,” she said.
“My father called his mother and told her to come and get me because my grandfather wanted to shoot my mother and myself. So she jumped the boat, came down to Marabella and that is how I reached Tobago,” Courtney said.
Eventually Courtney went to live with her aunt Emeline who was married to Dr Rowley’s grandfather Joseph.
Emeline was the sister of Courtney’s father Edwards.
Courtney said at age five Rowley spoke of becoming this country’s prime minister.
“One day he (Joseph) was sitting down under a coconut tree and Keith came up to him and said ‘when I become a big man I will be the prime minister of Trinidad and Tobago’,” Courtney said.
Courtney believes Rowley is the “best person” for the position as he would lead the country fairly in the best interest of everyone, no matter their race.
“We were taught the ten commandments, he knows not to steal, he knows not to tell lies. Lying lips are an abomination to the Lord and all these things he grew up knowing,” Courtney said.
Courtney said Rowley is a “loving person”.
“Trinidad and Tobago does not really know what they will be having as a prime minister (if they vote Rowley). He may have a serious disposition, you will not find him giggling but he has a lot of love,” she said.
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