By Dr Donald Reid Monday, February 25 2013
The Trinidad and Tobago Interfaith Council (TTIC) of New York, under the patronage of the Consulate General of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, hosted the first ever Interfaith, Intercultural and Interdisciplinary programme in commemoration of their Caribbean heritage and Black History month.
The event was well attended with participants from all walks of life, representing a cross section of the Caribbean-American Diaspora. The event had as its theme, “One People, One Mission, One Victory” the “Pioneers of Social Change,” and was held at the Sri Trimurti Bhavan Temple in Queens, New York.
The programme commenced with invocations by religious leaders and a welcome address by president of the mandir, Dr Dhanpaul Narine. An address followed by Dr Glenville Ashby, the event organiser and chairman of the TTIC. Dr Ashby, drawing on his expertise in the area of interfaith dialogue, urged participants to be actively engaged in the process of “bridge” building across the religious and ethnic divide.
Ashby noted that “New voices and new issues are challenging our traditional understanding of whom and what we are as a people.” He added that although the situations we may be experiencing may seem to be new, there are many parallels in other parts of the world, hence the Interfaith event was convened, “to promote understanding and accommodation between the two largest ethnic groups in Trinidad and Tobago.”
He added that interfaith dialogue can stem the tide of instability and distrust, but only through open and sincere dialogue.
Consul General Rudrawatee Nan Ramgoolam addressed the need for action, reconciliation and empowerment as a vehicle to bring together people of all faiths across both the Caribbean and North American landscapes.
In this regard she felt committed to play a pivotal role in bringing the resources of the Consulate to contribute in a meaningful way, to strengthen and deepen the collaborative work of the Trinidad and Tobago Interfaith Council in the United States of America.
Professor Imo Bakari of the University of Southern Caribbean delivered the keynote address entitled “Global competitiveness and Success: The African Responsibility” which drew upon narratives from the Caribbean American experience.
The highlight of the event was a panel discussion moderated by author Nandi Keyi Ogunlade.
Panelists included Dr Donald Reid, author and former economist with the Trinidad and Tobago Government who spoke on the topic “Theology of Caribbean American Economics and Finance.” Reid expressed the need for TTIC to play a critical role not only in religious affairs, but also to be equally active and involved in the economic well being of the members of the Caribbean community at large.
Dr Dhanpaul Narine, president of Sri Trimurti Bhavan Temple spoke on the topic “Interfaith Relations: The Road Ahead” and noted that in increasingly pluralistic societies, more interreligious dialogue and cooperation is needed if conflict fuelled by religion is to be constructively addressed.Another panelist, Roland Guy, owner of Ambrosia Health Food addressed the issue of “High Blood Pressure in the Black community: Genetic and Environmental Factors,” giving advice on maintaining the “body temple.”
Rohan Narine, president of Sadana.org spoke on the topic of “Youth, Technology and Culture” and gave the audience valuable tips for surviving and thriving in this ever changing technological world. Activist Ernest Skinner presented on “Political Rights and West Indians in NY” which gave a unique immigrant perspective on this subject. Imam Hameed Ahmed’s topic was “Islam and Human Rights in Africa and the Caribbean.” Ahmed asserted that while we may be diverse yet we are all connected with the universe for we all a product of God’s creation.
Roman Catholic priest Peter Antonius Gopaul discussed “Liberation Theology” which he noted has always been marked by tolerance and inclusiveness.
Remarks and best wishes by UWI lecturer, Dr Jerome Teelucksingh celebrating “this courageous event,” were conveyed to the audience as he presented “Honoring Our Heroes and Promoting Unity.” Willie Chen, author and artist brought a special greeting from the Chinese Trinidadian community while Mohammed Hack of the Interfaith Council of Global Sustenance also brought greetings from his organisation.
The programme concluded with an intercultural presentation comprising items of poetry, song, dance and music by by pannist Patrick Davis. Bishop Allan Baxter delivered the benediction.
(Reader comments and reviews on this article can be sent to Dr Reid at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For information o, TTIC, contact Dr Glenville Ashby at email@example.com)
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