Brief profile of Makandal Daaga
Raising the level of the black conciousness which changed employment practices in banks and other parts of the private sector and led to the development of state enterprises.
Enhancing the growth of a sense of nationalism, culture and race relations in the post-independence period with the formation of Pegasus in 1962, NJAC in 1969 and the historic March to caroni in 1970.
Spearheading the growth of Emancipation to the Caribbean, Western Hemisphere and Africa.
Returning Laventille to its former state of being a spiritual and cultural centre of Trinidad & Tobago
Makandal Daaga (formerly Geddes Granger) was born in Laventille, Trinidad, where he resides up to today with his wife Liseli and their four children. His intellectual brilliance was demonstrated at an early age when he was awarded a scholarship to attend St. Mary’s College. At an early age he displayed outstanding ability not only in academics, but also in sport, debating and public speaking.
In 1962 he formed an organisation named Pegasus, which made a great impact on Trinidad and Tobago. This organisation comprised some of the most brilliant, influential and prestigious personalities in Trinidad and Tobago at the time. It presented national awards to artistes, honoured national heroes and instituted the Model United Nations programme involving secondary school students. Pegasus organised many educational and cultural programmes nationally and sought to develop national unity and a true sense of independence.
Makandal Daaga went on to attend the University of the West Indies (UWI) and became President of the Guild of Undergraduates. In 1969, whilst being President of the Guild, he formed an organisation which has made its mark on Trinidad and Tobago, the Caribbean and the international arena. This organisation was the National Joint Action Committee, popularly known as NJAC. NJAC is well known for the 1970 revolution in Trinidad and Tobago when, thousands of people, led by Makandal Daaga and NJAC, demonstrated continuously for 56 days, from February to April, demanding fundamental societal change in the interest of the people and the nation.
Consequently, a State of Emergency was declared on 21st April, 1970 and Makandal Daaga and NJAC’s leadership were imprisoned. He was also imprisoned on several other occasions in the 1970s in his struggle for betterment for the people. He was also banned from the United States and a number of Caribbean islands. The 1970 revolution, however, impacted not only on Trinidad and Tobago, but swept through the Caribbean and brought about fundamental political, economic, social, cultural changes.
Under the leadership of Makandal Daaga, the National Joint Action Committee has been able to impact fundamentally and positively on national life and national consciousness – whether the political, social, religious, cultural, educational or other aspects and in so doing, making a positive contribution to national development.
An historic contribution was the movement that he led at the helm of NJAC, for the unity of the two major races in Trinidad and Tobago, the Africans and the Indians who were victims of the divide and rule policy of the colonial masters and which the local politicians perpetuated. The March to Caroni on March 12, 1970, was most instructive, as it showed the bonds of love and brotherhood that can exist between these two peoples. Under the banner of Indians and Africans unite thousands of Africans marched to Caroni and bonded with their Indian brothers and sisters of Central Trinidad under the leadership of Makandal Daaga and the National Joint Action Committee.
One of the significant achievements of the National Joint Action Committee in recent times, based on the initiative of Makandal Daaga, has been the Internationalisation of the Commemoration of August 1st, Emancipation Day.
After NJAC had successfully campaigned to have August 1st declared a public holiday in Trinidad and Tobago (this came to being in 1985), Makandal Daaga, in 1996, initiated a campaign, to be spearheaded by one of the institutions of NJAC, the Caribbean Historical Society, to have August 1st commemorated as Emancipation Day in the region and throughout the world. He believed that this would serve as a focal point around which Africans throughout the world could rally and focus.
Today, the political leader of NJAC and the Chief Servant Makandal Daaga, continues to lead an organisation which, like himself, remains committed to positive change in the interest of the people of Trinidad and Tobago and the Caribbean. There are indeed very few leaders who have been able to so profoundly affect the landscape of political, social and cultural life in the Caribbean, and to impact on the international arena as Makandal Daaga has been able to do.