Violence, pollution due to Trinidad and Tobago turning its back on ancestors


A member of the Council of Orisha Elders make an offering at a shrine at the Lopinot ancestral ground celebrate Friday to celebrate Earth Day. – Angelo Marcelle

The violence among youths, the pollution of watercourses and forest degradation are the result of people not honouring their ancestors, Public Utilities Minister Marvin Gonzales said on Friday.

The MP for Lopinot/Bon Air spoke at the Council of the Orisha Elders celebration of Earth Day at the Lopinot Ancestral Ground, Lopinot.

“If you wonder why we are having so many violence, as well why everything is happening, so challenging, the global pandemic, the absence of an adequate water supply. The degradation of our forests, the pollution of our rivers, starvation, hunger; it is because we have offended mother Onile. We have offended her because we have departed the ways that she has set about for us as a people.”

Gonzales said the nation needs to rely on the supplication of the ancestors to overcome the ills of life, among them poverty and violence.

“Why do we have so much starvation in this world, when there are so much food that Mother Earth can provide for us? Why do we have so much violence among our young people when the traditions of our ancestors and hold us together? Their hearts and their arms are open out to us to help our young boys to help our young girls, to help our leaders, our babas, our mothers and our fathers. And we are not hearing them. We are not uniting ourselves and our physical presence here on this earth with them.”

Arima MP and Housing Minister Pennelope Beckles, during her address, said more should be done to protect the earth.

“Humanity has not treated Mother Earth well. Every day we see more and more the effects of the damage we have done. And we know that science now is able to ensure that we can measure more accurately than before, our use of our land, our seas or air and the effects that such use has on our planet. We already know about the production of greenhouse gases, and what it causes and the rising temperature is causing to our polar icecaps to melt, causing rise in sea levels and the land is already been lost to the sea.”

She said protecting Mother Earth requires the effort of everyone and commended the Council of the Orisha Elders for connecting the Orishas to the environment. She said their profound understanding and dependence on Onile and her being essential to mankind’s existence should be commended.

The UN’s theme for Earth Day was “Invest in Our Planet” which for the Orisha is a way of life.

Addressing the gathering, Baba Neal Rawlins said Friday’s celebration at the ancestral grounds was the first in 16 years. Rawlins said the Orishas exist to guide mankind.

“They are here to help us and we need to pay homage to the earth, to the water, to the river, to the water to the sky. Our Orishas are the elementals; they are the ones that sustain life.”

During the celebration, the faithful offered libations at three shrines: Esu, the owner of the crossroads and divine messenger who opens the way; Mama Latte or Mother Onile (Mother Earth) and Ogun, the chief of the mystery of iron who saves his children from destruction.

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