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West Indian Philosopher

Monday, November 23, 2015
Gerry Anthony Williams

My name is Gerry Anthony Williams and I am a West Indian philosopher and Renaissance man.

Does one need to be a PhD to be able to formulate philosophy? I don’t think so. I attended the University of Life. I believe it’s all about developing your responsibility to your space and interpreting the world and expounding upon it in a certain way. And my philosophy is of the West Indies.

My mom came to Trinidad from Guyana illegally in the early Eighties. She got residency in the ANR Robinson administration amnesty. I came across, with papers, by plane, not by the fig boat. My five siblings from that father also came with me. I have a brother from another father who is Trinidadian.

I attended Holy Cross College in Arima—the REAL “school on the hill” in Trinidad, with the REAL view! The perfect setting for a young person learning! Not that I learned much. I didn’t do too well in school at all. I used to daydream looking out the window a lot. 

Few can match me in understanding concepts but I’m just not able to put on blinders and go down one path. With so many other interesting things to do, why would I sit down and do homework? 

I don’t believe there is a God but I’ll find out, if there is. In the meantime, I’m going to study what we have to do right now. 

To ask me to put my West Indian philosophy in a nutshell… Well, how big is that nut? Is it a Brazil nutshell? A peanut? A coconut? I looked at the world and realised certain cultures dominate—not culture as your artistic aesthetic or your song-and-dance or visual art. I mean that collective or comprehensive approach to your space, to this space, the Earth, and living. We are under a hegemony that seeks the interest of a few Western elites with economic and political power and really doesn’t have our West Indian interests at heart. 

The most sinister legacy of colonialism is that we West Indian territories can’t seem to overcome the invalid antagonisms and suspicions of each other. What trickles down to us is a very subordinate [role] that causes us to lose a sense of who we are and how we can actually determine a life for ourselves.

You can bet I will get flak for appearing in a feature called “Trini to the Bone”—and being a Guyanese! But the thing that validates you as a Trinidadian or Barbadian is how you live in relation to your space and your responsibility to it. You go to the Maracas Waterfalls and leave a KFC box. I go to the Maracas Falls and bring out a garbage bag full of rubbish. But you are a Trini because you were born in San Juan but I am not because I was born in Venezuela? Who is the real Trini there?

My haircut is partly aesthetic and partly functional. The aesthetic is it has the look of some of the indigenous people in these parts. The function is that my hair is getting really thin at the top and it creates the optical illusion of there being more.

If you say you love children, why would you add another child when you could (adopt) and help fulfill a child already here? It’s a functional and practical way to approach it but it’s a bit of sense that doesn’t sit well with many people.

It’s still a miracle to me that I manage to pay bills. I have tradeable skills and I have a very supportive partner. When there’s a month that I haven’t been able to trade my skills, she absorbs that economic strain. 

All the elements are there to bring about real West Indian connection but I don’t see the generation of leaders we have (achieving it). My generation (has) to take it forward; because their thinking is no longer able to fit with where we have to go. 

Trinbagonians can work their work their way around situations very well. The general ability is to work skulls but they can use it for good. 

Trinidad & Tobago is really incredible potential; and, because of that potential, Trinidad & Tobago should take up leadership. But leadership with responsibility, not the leadership we’re accustomed to, that (simply) dominates. 

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