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Growing up Abu

Monday, July 27, 2015
Fuad Abu Bakr

My name is Fuad Abu Bakr and, 25 years ago today, my father led an attempted coup.

My life began five years before the coup, as the son of Yasin and Atiyah Abu Bakr, who was once Grace Telesford. My mom was from a staunch Catholic background. My family is the Pantins, the Granados.

We started off at school in our preschool. In 1990, they destroyed all our buildings except the mosque. We ended up at St Gabriel’s Private School. I could sing every hymn for you: “Jesus’ love is a-bubbling over/Alleluia!”

At primary school, some parents used to [say], “Stay away from those Abu Bakr children!” But kids are such that, if you’re sharing your salt prune and Bobby, playing football with the Chubby bottle in the yard, and all-you laughing together, everybody cool.

I kinda remember the visits to my father while he was in Golden Grove and Frederick Street, Royal Gaol, but not well. When we lost all our homes and stuff, I remember all of us living together in a house in Gonzales. I think it was 27 of us, but we just thought of it as fun, as kids.

I get that most Trinidadians would condemn the coup. Grappling, in my teens, with what transpired, historically, I read books, asked questions, listened to documentaries [and] calypsos. To try to derive, “Where is this from?” I know my father is not a mad man. I tried to understand, what is the cause? What is the root?

I would give a bounce to anyone who said their favourite film was the Godfather.

You could say the Muslimeen have been tied to crimes, but you could say tied and targeted. No other religious organisation, when members do wrong things, gets their institution put up on the newspaper. Pires from St Agnes Church committed murder yesterday but St Agnes Church never gets attacked.

It’s just wrong to say there are more Muslimeen people [than any other group] ending up in ditches with a bullet in the head. If you look at the 114 people in the coup, most have led decent lives. Khalid Khan is a top businessman. Imam Nazim, Bilal Abdullah, Kwesi Atiba, top businessmen; Jamal Shabazz: [national] football coach. Their children have made sterling contributions: Tariq Haq: Olympic medallist; Radanfah Abu Bakr: TT footballer; Muhammud Muwakil: Freetown Collective, excellent poet; Atiba Akiboa: medical doctor. It is not fair, but we have just been conditioned to think that way.

Not for other people, just for myself, in my own soul, I need to be fair.

I wouldn’t put my head on a block for anyone, not even myself. You say to yourself, “I not going to check that woman ever again!” And, the next day, you gone!

I don’t see why I shouldn’t go to the Hyatt, or All Out, or Aria or anywhere else. I getting a little too old for 51 Degrees teeny-boppers now. I guard myself from the negatives—I don’t drink, I don’t smoke, and you won’t see me wining up, because I’ll hide. No, I won’t do it.

In primary school, I realised who my father was from other people but I just knew my father-father. In secondary school, I started to see, sometimes, discrimination. At times, you benefitted from being, “the son of…” At other times, you were vicitimised for it. I actually stopped fights between St James and QRC because of respect: he is Abu Bakr’ son.

I didn’t even realise one of the judges in a matter with my father, his son, Matthew Tam, went to school with us, and we were friends. That is one of the beautiful things of QRC, that mix. Who you interact with, you become comfortable with. When you put just one race or religion together, it breeds a type of clannishness we don’t need.

I am open to different people, cultures, religions. I’m easygoing, loving. I think this is what a Trinbagonian is, because I believe I am the epitome of a Trinbagonian.

I choose to call myself a Trinbagonian because I enjoy Store Bay. And I don’t want Tobagonians to cuss me when I go there. Or poison my curry crab and dumpling!

I lived in London for four years. I love Switzerland. Dubai is exciting.  But there is no other place I’d prefer to live than here. Trinidad & Tobago should start with the letter “p”, for “potential”. I want to help us reach there.
Read a longer version of this feature at
Fuad Abu Bakr is as comfortable at the bar at the Hyatt Regency as he is at One Mucurapo Road.


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