Patrick Manning’s legacy for Caribbean Education, Arts, Culture and Unity
It would be hypocritical of me to say that I immediately understood the impact of the passing Former Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago, the Honorable Patrick Manning. I remember while growing up, I would see him on the news often during his leadership tenures and his announcements always seemed to naturally introduce a heated family debate on whatever was the current issue at hand. But back then, I was too young to really participate meaningfully in discussion. When I migrated to the U.S., assimilating to my new home took precedence of national politics, so I was once again divorced from discussion.
So to be transparent, the announcement of his death touched me more on the premise that the death of any Caribbean leader is something worth taking note of. But, I could not leave it there. Guided by the principle that we must honor the works of those who came before us, I decided to dig a little deeper and found out the gargantuan impact of this leader on the political and socio-economic landscape of not only Trinidad and Tobago, but the Caribbean as a whole. Like most political leaders, there was controversy surrounding his different leadership tenures.
But, what I also found was the legacy of a gentleman, a leader and an agent of change who not only focused on the needs of his own country, but, on that of the entire Caribbean Region.
Patrick Augustus Mervyn Manning dedicated forty years of his life to public service. He was born in San Fernando (a city south Trinidad and Tobago), and pursued his tertiary education, attaining his B.Sc. Degree (Special Honours) in Geology at the University of the West Indies, Mona, Jamaica. After graduating, Manning worked as a geologist with Texaco Trinidad Ltd., until he ran for Parliament in 1971. Between 1971 and 1978 he served as Parliamentary Secretary in various Ministries before being appointed junior Minister in the Ministry of Finance in the government of Eric Williams. In 1979 he was given the additional position of junior Minister in the Office of the Prime Minister. In 1981 he was given a full Cabinet position of Minister of Information and Minister of Industry and Commerce. Between 1981 and 1986 he served as Minister of Energy and Natural Resources.*
ABOUT HIS LEGACY:
“Mr. Manning was a visionary, patriot, and a true Caribbean man, who was committed to the regional integration movement, Mr Rowley said, lauding his contribution to the establishment of initiatives including the Petroleum Fund which allowed Member States to benefit from Trinidad and Tobago’s oil revenue”-Keith Rowley (Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago)
Mr. Manning served as the fourth and sixth Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago. He was Political Leader of the People’s National Movement (PNM) from 1987 to 2010. He also served as Member of Parliament for the San Fernando East constitutency from 1971 until 2015. He was also the Leader of the Opposition from 1986 to 1990 and again from 1995 to 2001.*
But for me, his legacy is not limited to the list of impressive titles and political accolades. It is more about his vision to highlight the accomplishments of his country and his region, to ensure that they had the skills to compete on the world stage and to improve the quality of life for many of the under-served in his country by pushing for strategic and lasting change. Among these;
- Integration among the Caribbean islands
It was under Manning’s stewardship that the implementation of initiatives such as the Caricom Petroleum Stabilisation Fund and the Caricom Implementation Agency for Crime and Security (IMPACS) were realised**.
- Energizing the energy sector
- This was brought to life through many avenues under his leadership, including maximization of oil production, identifying commercialization opportunities for companies with gas resources and attempts to localize the energy sector. ***
- Making education more accessible to everyone
- Under his leadership, the University of Trinidad and Tobago was born and the the Government Assistance for Tuition Expenses (GATE) was introduced.
ABOUT HIS CONTRIBUTION TO CARIBBEAN ARTS & CULTURE:
Among is his most noteworthy accomplishments (in my opinion) was his initiative to support the performing arts in Trinidad and Tobago. This took the form of the National Academy for Performing Arts (North and South Campus); a state of the art facility to promote the work of Caribbean artistes. This building which opened in November 2009 was not without its fair share of controversy. But, all that aside, the construction of this building was a step in the right direction for the citizens of Trinidad and Tobago to display proudly and claim even more ownership of one of its most valuable assets –its arts and culture. For this alone, I salute Mr. Manning for his vision and his fortitude to persevere in spite of.
It is not uncommon in the Caribbean, to spend time critiquing our leaders while they are in power. I think it’s just a part our cultural instinct to insist on accountability (and I must say it’s not unique to the Caribbean either). However, I can say with confidence that Mr. Patrick Manning left an indelible legacy on his country that will be appreciated for many years to come. His forty years of dedicated service were not in vain. He made his nation proud.
MISSION: To elevate the brand of Caribbean culture in the fields of MUSIC, BUSINESS and the ARTS by celebrating the work of cultural ambassadors while advocating for upcoming Caribbean talent1.