‘Excellent!’ That is the first direct word to me in my first enncouter with the first woman President of Trinidad and
Tobago, Her Excellency Paula-Mae Weekes, ORTT.
It is the night of the National Awards on the occasion of the 42nd Anniversary of our Republic status.
The citation is being read, ‘the MEDAL FOR THE DEVELOPMENT OF
WOMEN (GOLD) is awarded For Outstanding Contribution to the Development of
Women’s Rights and Issues in Trinidad and Tobago….
She repeats, ‘the Medal For
Outstanding Contribution to Journalism/the Development of Women, and then adds my title Dr, then pronounces my full birth
name, Krishendaye Rampersad, which has been abbreviated for most of my career
as Kris Rampersad
The announcers begin reading a brief of my life’s work. Good
luck with that, I think, trying to condense a life that has filled many ungiving minutes with its full sixty seconds of distance run into the sixty-odd seconds it would take to collect the medal, shake hands, collect scroll and walk across the stage of the National Performing Arts Centre.
I am not too worried about what selections would be made
from my CV. The announcers are Sharon Pitt and Errol Fabien, two of my most
respected colleagues in media and whom I have known through my career. Sharon, in fact was one of the first journalists I met when I entered the field as a
freelancer in San Fernando. She worked for radio. I was only at the South
office for about a month before I am called for a staff position at the
headquarters of the Guardian in Port of Spain. The south journalists, and Richard Lord,
in particular, say at almost every encounter that it’s the fastest promotion
they had ever witnessed. There’s more to that story, but at another time.
Sharon called me a few years ago. I had been out of the formal newsroom for almost a decade expanded my journalism to accomodate new media and internationa outreach development, advocacy and revising agenda setting instruments and institutions at all levels. She has followed my
career, she says, inviting me to speak at her daughter’s school. Out of the
formal newsroom, but not out of journalism, my focus was on institutional
strengthening, legislative reform, education, and awareness building. These were weaknesses
I had identified and experienced across fields and spheres in many angements through studies and otherwise with various societies, the path to our development and
our place in the world, at the insection where local meets global; this while continuing to write copiously, film scripts, books, research papers, commentaries and blogs, books, some publshed, still many to be released.
“As one of the few women who have tried to make a living and
career from writing and as a role model for young women like her (daughter),” Sharon
says, explaining her request. I was touched. She was one of the few who had identified my work not just as journalism but in the broader sphere of ‘writer’. I would have loved to; indeed it
was no mean feat, trying to make ends meet, maintain one’s independence, and
function in a sphere that was nebulous to many. Navigating the incredulous
looks on bankers and other officials who would ask, ‘what is your real job,’
when I say ‘writer’ for instance, and then insist on tangible proof that that
is something people do for a living. But my travel schedule, international
engagements could not accommodate the date of the graduation as I would regrettably
be out of the country.
Tonight, I am comforted in the confidence I had in the readers of the bio profiles, Sharon and Errol; their delivery on the fifty other awardees who preceded me, impeccable, aticulate and flawless. Yet, their voices fade out as I turn the bend to come face to face with Her
Excellency. She is stately, elegant, immaculate in red lace, the same shade as my red
chiffon, and the curtains drawn on each side of the stage at the National
Academy for the Performing Arts!
Her voice is a concise balance of effusion, commendation and
warmth. She is handed my medal by Secretary to the President Gregory Serrette, who had walked me through the process a few days earlier. But the experience was altogether novel.
As she leans forward to hang it on the pin, the Order of Trinidad and Tobago, the country’s highest award, with which Her Excellency was presented by the Chief Justice last month, dangles around her neck. It had replaced the Trinity Cross a decade ago on recommendation for equity in consideration of the country’s. Change comes from challenges to the status quo!
“Excellent,” Her Excellency says to me.
Excellent is a word that has resonated through my career.
With some of my classmates with whom I formed an editorial committee, I had
resurrected my high school magazine that had gone defunct for a decade,
rebranded it, and gave it a new lease on life to chronicle the students the
rites of passage of students of St Stephen’s College. Dedicated to Excellence,
we called it. My school friend Kamla who would not follow us into A-Levels
would do a profile article on me for the Junior Express. The headline was Dedicated to Excellence.
Warned of the unfriendly state of the economy to new graduands, even before graduation I wrote applications to as many as I
could; I had forgotten to whom. When Ma handed me the small envelope that came
weeks later by snail mail with the logo of the red and white angel on the right
hand corner that appears on the daily newspapers, I felt it would be another that reads, ‘Sorry, we have no
vacancies at the moment. We would keep your application on file…’.
I was thrilled to see that it was an invitation to an
interview, in Port of Spain, signed by the then editor in chief, Lenn Chong
Sing. My father took a market day off to bring me to Port of Spain (Francis
Joseph has a legendary colourful version of that!) Pa waited in the Guardian
lobby as I am escorted up the stairs and past the desks with people half
Clutching my O’ and A’ Level Certificates, references, and a
copy of my school magazine in an envelope, I am whisked into an office and is
greeted by a kindly matronly woman. Mrs Sombrano, she introduces herself, asks
if I would like something to drink which I declined. Soon she opened an
adjourning door and ushered me into what we would come to know as ‘the cold
room’. It is cold. Behind the desk is a Chinese man, head down, reading
something it seems. Bent, his head looks something like Pa’s.
I realise he is reading my application letter, scanning it
with his pen. You have any sample writings? You brought this school magazine? I
to Excellence to him. He flips the pages. Inscrutable.
“Okay, can you start at the South office, as a freelancer,”
he says. “We will see how that goes, until something opens up on staff.”
My first interview, my first writing job!
Mrs Sombrano comes in to escort me out. It is only after I
would realise that Mr Chong Sing had brought me into journalism without making
eye contact. His shyness, I would learn, would never inhibit the dreaded
memos to the newsroom, from ‘the cold room’ for after a month in the ‘South’ –
the vast land mass of so dubbed by the north – covering all spheres from the
courts, local government, schools, I am summoned to the North, much to the displeasure of the South office’s manager, Mr Phillip, and editors, Goerge Alleyne and Mikey Mahabir. Journalism was in danger of losing me as it was clear that I would have to redirect energies as my first paycheck of $120.00 for more than a month of traversing and covering the entire south, through floods (it was hurricane season); covering schools (it was graduatin season), farmers, local government councils, sports, and the first formal interview with Giselle La Ronde, just crowned in the national contest and about to go off to become Miss World.
Carl Jacobs, the then editor, would receive and introduce me the staff, then deliver me to the hands of John Babb. Sharon Pitt, Richard
Lord, Phoolo Danny and other journalists in various media houses with whom I
was developing fast friendships in South would next hear from me from Port of
Spain. it really all happened in a blink, and the beginning of events that swept me up like those Shakespearean tides in the affairs of men and women.
The transition from rural to urban life would bring its own insights. I would learn that while friendships were seamless in the
south; in the north, it would be overshadowed and demarcated somewhat by
institutional affiliation in the competitive sphere of breaking news and
journalism. Its demarcations, I believe, I managed to avoid, maintaining my
friendships, with Kamla, Pitt and building others. North-South dichotomies and
the implications on development would become one of my areas of scrutiny,
through into international relationships and development as well.
Under the guidance of our news editor, John Babb, I covered every sphere of
news that the seasoned reporters were too busy to give attention – community
centres and organisations, health, education, city council, the scarvengers and
vagrants. In fact, I was so familiar with the city’s destitutes, that inside
the newsroom, I was referred to as ‘the vagrant reporter’ as I knew many of
them and their stories of misfortune, alienation from family and friends,
mental illness, or just sheer rejection of the society. I began, too, to write
the news behind the news as well,
profiles, columns, on every theme, topic, beat, the piles of clippings that spill
out of my home office and into every room, that my family and friends often
threaten to throw out, is testimony to the range. Two of the earliest columns
were Discover Trinidad and Tobago and Teenlife. At that year’s media
awards, the chief judge, retired Chief Justice Sir Isaaac Hyatali, would make mention of a young
reporter who was breathing fresh air into our understanding of Trinidad and
Tobago. I had not submitted any of my writings as the submission deadline was months before I even entered journalism. By the time of the next awards, Therese Mills, the Sunday Guardian
Editor whose office, if not shoes, I would one day occupy, asked me for some of
my articles to submit to the upcoming media awards. I complied and forgot about
[youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x2dhwDdK9Zk&w=320&h=266]I realised that one from the Discover Trinidad and Tobago series, ‘War of the Sexes Now Goes to
the Calypso Stage,’ was being named the winner of a BWIA Media Award for Excellence
in Journalism in the category for
social and economic commentary in which Therese herself was a nominee, when
Hazel Ward Redman, ‘Aunty Hazel’, sitting in front of me at the media awards
ceremony, jumped off her seat, turned around, beaming at me, applauding and
shouting, “Bravo, Bravo!” Stil la teenager, I felt as if I was on her teen talent show as such was her mode of commending the performances of nervous youngsters.
[youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wZWK7A-Abd0&w=320&h=266]When I transitioned to AVM television shortly thereafter to
script the Cross Country series, which Dale Kolasingh, charmed by my Discover
series, wanted to replicate for television, and lured me on the notion of
expanding my media skills, much to Mr Chong Sing’s displeasure, I would learn. AVM
was indeed an incubator and many in the audio-visual sector today has had some
early exposure there. Cross Country became the first local programme ever to
hold the number one spot on local prime time television. Dale confessed one day
when we were celebrating some media awards for Excellence, won for Cross
Country and our current affairs investigations, that Lenn Chong Sing, the
editor in chief, had ‘called and cussed’ him for poaching on his staff when I
resigned from the Guardian. I could never reconcile his cheeky recount with the
Chong Sing I knew, the man who had never made eye contact with me. Though, in
the not too distant future, Lenn Chong Singh, then retired from the Guardian
and taken on as a consultant to recruit new staff for the television station in
formation -TV6 – would seek his revenge and attempt to recruit me for the
station. Still never making eye contact, after he had called and we agreed to
meet where I was attending a workshop at UWI. As tempting as it was to get into the action in the formation of the new television station, brought about by government policy for opening up the airwaves with issue of sevral TV licences, I politely declined. I had just began university that I had delayed for not one, as initially intended, but four years to explore print and elevision ournalism. I needed flexible time that starting up a television station would not have
allowed then. When I completed myfirst degree at UWI, John Babb and Therese Mills would ask me to join them in a new daily newspaper in the making, to be launched as a ‘good news’ paper, Newsday, which just celebrated its 25th year. I would have its first cover story, 5000 Lives Saved, win a Media Award for Excellence in Heath Reporting from the Pan American Health Organisation, and help it carve its space in the national landscape in coverage of a range of beats, culture, health, education, trade unions, politics… as well as profiles of many in the society, individuals and institutions, and initiate and populate its satirical column, Between the Lines, one of many subsequent satirical columns, that have occuied the editorial columns since, including commentaries on issuses of the Parliament of the day, I Beg To Move; In Gabilan, The Week That Was, The C Monologues, and others.
Those were my earliest years in media in what I regard as not a career, but a vocation, propelled by forces I sometimes over which I have felt I have had little real control, and impulses larger than life. The dimensions of I have little would have many
compartments, as a freelancer, investigative reporter, columnist, editor,
scriptwriter, From the newsrooms of the Trinidad Guardian to AVM Television to founding of Newsday, to editorship director, producer, publisher, advocate, educator, trainer, agenda setter, and policymaker. To embrace new media as another form for communication and dissemination of information, start a blog in the embryonic days of blogging in T&T, that has won a readership of international think tanks and was named a winner in a policy blogging initiative for new media of the BBC and Communications Initiative. But even so, media as it is generally defined, remained only a form an medium of expression that is part of a larger cultural milieu of expressions in the written and spoken word, but also through art, music, dance, signs and symbols; forms that are natural to the human impulse to connect and communicate and share life experiences and interpretations with each other. A vocation, it is, that covers many spheres and disciplines and gender equity and women’s issues
being one dimension of trying to encourage a level playing field and create
opportunities and carve paths for development for equity and inclusion in our
social, cultural, economic and political interactions. Journalism and media to me have been only tools, companion tools to other forms of communication articulated through various cultural expressions. The skills and understanding of media, communication, the use of
information, their forms and functions and inner and outer mechanics, social
and political contexts are only the frames towards moving our world closer to those goals now being called Sustainable
Development. Most, conditioned in silos cannot see the links and I have often felt the disconnect and sometimes a tug of war and even command to choose one. To me, in all their variable dimensions, they are
seamless and indivisible. It was never about filling the unforgivng minute with sixty seconds worth of distance run; it was about how could I stretch and stretch some more the unforgiving minute to accomodate all the runs that must be made. So much to do and so little time to do it in, my friends would often hear me say. Little did I know how little.
“Excellent! Congratulations! Well done! Well deserved! Long
Overdue!” Her Excellency is emphasizing the sylable of each word as she pins on the medal.
It is her first word to me, ‘Excellent’, that resonates against
the applause coming from the auditorium hall as I turn to shake hands and
receive congratulations from first the Prime Minister, Dr Keith Rowley; then
the Chief Justice, Ivor Archie and to greet Mrs Archie, then to collect the
scroll and box in which would rest the Medal for the Development of Women,
Gold, for Journalism/ and Development of Women.
The word continues to echo independently
in the thousands of commendations and congratulations and hearty well-wishes
and thumbs up and likes, and hearts, and emotive emojis, that have since floated to me through public and private social media and calls and interactions tell me of the spheres that my work has
reached and touched: my family, relatives, siblings, nephews and nieces; villagers;
my early and later teachers, the educators and cultural and gender advocates
who were also awarded and guests that night who have followed my work; and to media
colleagues – many trapped in uncertainty of the current media climate; women
and men in many spheres.
That it means so much to so many, has enhanced its value to me. Thank You!
Next: Behind the Red Curtain of the National Awards Ceremony
and the Medal for Development of Women
Career Highlights Journalism and Development of Women, Dr Kris Rampersad
Dr Kris Rampersad work has spanned the arenas of Education; Literature, the Arts and Culture; Media Communications and Information; and Gender Equity, Empowerment and Advancement for access to opportunities from grassroots to high level agenda setting international arenas. This has enhanced the impact and ability to envision and advocate for meaningful gender and culture-sensitive approaches to sustainable development in ways that bridge and span gaps between and among fields and disciplines from agriculture, culture, industry, education, governance and ICTs for all ages and across gender divides.
She functions as an Independent educator, researcher, author, advocate, activist, advisor, mentor, facilitator and consultant.
?feature=player_embeddedHighlights of Media/Journalism Career: Spans print, television, education and advocacy across spheres of conventional and new media prnt and production 1988-2018.
vBlog Demokrissy is a widely read by international think tanks, including the UN community. It won the BBC/UNESCO Communication Initiative policy development blogging for new media
vCoordinated international media for Summit of the Americas and Commonwealth Heads of Government Meetings
vFirst sitting journalist to complete doctorate. Inspired many journalist to pursue higher education.
vArticles and columns have occupied and guided public opinion from editorial pages for some 30 years
vDoctorate on process of literary development and influences of journalism on award winning writings considered seminal and ground breaking in its depth and scope that spans 100 years of socio-cultural-political evolution of Trinidad and Tobago. Published as Finding A Place
vWrote first book on the first female Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago, Through the Political Glass Ceiling, released on the eve of election of 2010 with prophetic insights into premiership of Kamla Persad Bissessar.
vThird book LiTTscapes – Landscapes of Fiction from Trinidad and Tobago represents almost everything written in fiction from Sir Walter Raleigh 1595 to the turn of the 21st century was commemorative publication of 50th Jubilee Anniversary of Independence;
Presented ground breaking research at first World Summit on Information Society in Tunisia on engendering ICT policy. Has helped develop media, information and communication policy as integrated into achievmeents of Millennium Development goals and Sustainable Development Goals at global levels of agenda setting and policy making of the UN Commonwealth and OAS agencies.
Pioneered research on gender sensitive policy making in areas of Freedom of Information, Access to Information, and other spheres for hemispheric, commonwealth and UN bodies
vServed as Editor of Sunday Guardian and presided over the transition from broadsheet to tabloid.
vFounding journalist of Newsday – wrote first lead story, ‘5000 Lives Saved, dubbed ‘the good news reporter’
vYoungest journalist to win BWIA media award for excellence in journalism. Won in social and economic commentary category for gender bender article, War of the Sexes Goes to the Calypso Stage from Discover Trinidad and Tobago series
vWon Pan American Health Organisation Award for Excellence in Health Reporting
vTop student of diploma course in international journalism , Rajasthan Patrika Award from Indian Institute of Mass Communication (Scholarship).
vResearch and Writer of programmes of Cross Country for AVM Television (as well as AVM Special Report, Survival (food programme) Booktalk among others. Cross Country became rated as the number one local programme that held prime time television spot for its duration and won several BWIA Media Awards.
vAwarded Nuffield Foundation Fellowship to Wolfson College, Cambridge
vAwarded fellowship by Foreign Press Centre of Japan
vCommonwealth Professional Fellow
Highlights of Gender Actions
For almost three decades Dr Kris Rampersad has been devoted to leveling the playing field for women and girls in pursuit of:
•Gender equality in the work place
• The elimination of all forms of discrimination against women by the promotion of gender equity.
• Legislative and cultural reform to ensure gender equity.
• Institutional mechanisms for the advancements of women.
• Economic empowerment by: overcoming marginalization, oppressive social norms access and rights to resources;
• Incentive and awards based initiatives encouraging women to fulfill their potential and
• Education- based programs, initiatives or personal action that offer and afford women broader choices & enhanced opportunities
Highlights of Gender Actions & Achievements
Highlights of such achievements in pursuit of implementation of the CEDAW recommendations for the elimination of all forms of discrimination against women and promotion of gender equity include:
1.Research, preparation of the pioneering comprehensive national report and spearheaded follow up action in the InterAmerican system to encourage State bodies to implement the CEDAW convention provisions and recommendations that informed the Summit of the Americas, Commonwealth and UN processes.
2.Her work in awareness raising and building capacities to understand gender sensitive policy and legislation to strengthen the capacity of institutions in addressing gender inequalities as for reform to the child marriage act, gender sensitive budgeting and engendered political processes.
3. She coordinated the outreach and advocacy for the Commonwealth Foundation’s campaign for gender equality for Commonwealth Women Affairs Ministers Meetings. This fed into the Commonwealth Head of Government Meetings to build acceptance of the Commonwealth Campaign on the slogan, ‘Where’s the Money for Gender Equality.’ It spotlighted and propelled the movement of gender equity beyond rhetoric to actioning developmental programmes.
4.Her impact on gender equality in the workplace has been not just in pursuing the rights of colleagues in the workplace but for across-the-board equity in treatment, equity in promotions and remunerations; representation of women at higher levels of administration and decision making.
5. She has been a strong advocate to removal of discriminatory practices and revisiting entrenched notions of gender roles within social systems and cultural practices through her work with traditional and grass roots communities across the Caribbean.
6.She has herself blazed a trail for women in the media and has filled several senior level positions as well as being the first sitting editor to have completed a PhD while in the demanding and high-stressed environment of the newsroom, as well as in her actions in supporting women journalists.
7.From the inception of her career as a journalist Dr Rampersad supported the global mandate for equality of women that came out of the Beijing Platform for Women, and has a substantial portfolio of articles, columns as Woman to Woman, interviews, investigations, that tell women’s personal stories of trials and triumphs, revealing discrepancies and imbalances from data, highlighting the plight of the underprivileged, unearthing inequalities in national life, in the homes and in the work place, and the campaign against domestic violence.
8.She has also been actively involved in supporting and encouraging women’s development from community to international policy arenas.
9.Her writings, from profiles of achievements to policy critiques have encouraging women in public , civic and entrepreneurial arenas, utilizing all her roles to this end.
10.She has initiated and developed a number of awards for women.
i.As editor she partnered with the United Nations, corporate community, NGOs and others to spearhead the Woman of the Year Award. S
ii.She conceptualized and piloted to national and international acceptance the Commonwealth Caribbean ‘Women Agents of Change’ Award, which was the forerunner to introduction of the Medals for Women in Trinidad and Tobago.
iii.She identified women to be recognized among others for the Trinidad and Tobago Publishers’ and Broadcasting Association Awards for Media Excellence.
11.She created & produced television documentary as the series That is Woman that features leading women figures in national life to showcase women’s achievements and have them tell their stories in their own words, and researched and scripted many other stories of women for radio, television and print.
12.For the most part of the last fifteen years she has been the spokesperson on women’s issues and gender parity, shaping and supporting the work of local and international Networks for gender equity and the advancement of Women of Trinidad and Tobago.
13.As an educator, she also trained women in gender sensitive approaches to policy making, understanding and engaging with media.
14.Among organisations that have benefitted from her input are UN Women/UNIFEM; UNESCO dedicated programme actions on its priority focus on women, the Caribbean Institute for Women and the Commonwealth Women’s Organisation; CIVICUS – World Assembly for People’s Participation.
15.She was researcher and lead spokesperson for gender equality for the OAS Active Democracy Network in the build up to and through the Fifth Summit of the Americas and presented pioneering research on gender sensitive approaches to changing development policy agenda in areas of Freedom of Expression, Access to Information .
16.At national level, she articulated to build awareness as the Outreach and International
Relations Director of the Network of NGOs for Women and articulated the vision around the Put A Woman Campaign of the Network of NGOs for the Advancement of Women, which drew from the UN resolutions for gender parity in national decision making. It included the slogan, A Woman’s Place is in the House – Of Parliament, that saw the .drive for fulfilment of the quota of women in Parliament along with women in the positions of Speaker of the House and President of the Senate. The same campaign also supported the ascension into office of the First Female Prime Minister and first Female President of Trinidad and Tobago in one decade.
17.She wrote the pioneering book, Through the Political Glass Ceiling, that along with mapping the journey of the First Female Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago through her speeches also includes revisionary research, study and analysis of the national politics of the day through gender and cultural sensitive lenses that has become a text for gender studies and analyses. This has become an important global text in appreciating the challenges of women in ascension public office.
18.These contributions spilled over to her functions in other arenas. As the Co-Chair of the UNESCO Executive Board’s Public and External Relations Commission responsible for programme actions she drove and supported international actions and motions to strengthen UNESCO’s priority focus on women and gender equality as well as in championing rights of journalists and others and for injecting gender sensitive approaches to decision making in culture, education, information and other spheres.
19. She was herself acknowledged and featured in Hazel Ward Redman’s celebratory series as CentreStage and Woman of Substance and has been featured in articles as Express Woman, ‘Helping Dreamers Dream’ and Newsday Woman’s Weekly as Changing the World With Ideas.
20.She has mentored many at national and international levels
Dr Kris Rampersad’s work is pioneering in relation to her research and fearless and courageous and selfless advocacy and actions in the face of tremendous odds and challenges of a small island society. She has enhanced the image of Trinidad and Tobago and women both in the national arena and abroad as a flagbearer of national development interests through all her endeavours as journalist, editor, advocate, educator, development specialist.
Through her work and in networking with others she has actively created and improved the availability and accessibility of spaces for women in the public sphere and has helped spotlight challenges and streamline the focus on perceptions of their roles and functions in the private/domestic spheres.
Her groundbreaking research offer new insight into national phenomenon within local and international contexts to enlighten approaches to agenda setting, policy and decision making encompassing research, production, advocacy, institutional capacity building and enhancement through to face to face and hands on leadership and youth development initiatives in education and awareness and skills building for women and girls.
Her life and work putting service before self, often at little or no remuneration and at the expense of her health and a life threatening medical condition, she has given up many personal and professional comforts and security in her efforts at creating opportunities and advancement of women
Through her passion, energy, devotion, and commitment to actions for meaningful change, she has inspired women and girls of all ages and across national to international spectrums as an inspiration to women educators, women leaders, women in the media and in the sphere of arts and culture.
Awards/Recognitions & Service
St Julien Presbyterian School New Grant Princes Town – Primary School:
St Stephen’s College, Princes Town – Secondary School:
PhD in Literatures in English University of the West Indies
BA Literatures in English, sociology, politics, University of the West Indies
Diploma in Mass Communication – Indian Institute of Mass Communication, India and its highest award Rajasthan Patrika Award;
Fellow, Wolfson College, University of Cambridge UK (globalisation);
Commonwealth Professional Fellowship
Participated and benefitted from numerous courses, lectures, workshops in multimedia, information technologies, leadership, management, computing, managing diversity, and conservation and safeguarding of cultural heritage.
Scholarships and Fellowships:
Wolfson (Journalism) College, University of Cambridge UK;
Foreign Press Centre of Japan (journalism fellowship);
Association of Commonwealth Universities, Professional Fellowship;
ØFounding Adviser, International Institute for Gastronomy, Culture, Arts & Tourism
ØFounding Member, U40 Coalition on Promotion of Diversity of Cultural Expressions
ØFounding Member, Scientific Committee, International Culture University
Served on numerous committees and boards, including
ØUNESCO General Assembly, Chair Education Commission
ØUNESCO Executive Board, co-chair Programmes and External Relations Commission, member of Special Committee
Ø Chair, National Museum and Art Gallery;
ØChair, National Commission for UNESCO of Trinidad and Tobago
ØMember Trinidad and Tobago Government Expert Panel on Arts and Culture Member, Trinidad and Tobago Registry of Cultural Workers Committee
ØMember, Trinidad and Tobago Heritage Tourism Committee
ØFounder,/Coordinator Awards for Agricultural Journalism
Ø Founding member, Friends of Mr Biswas – St James House for Mr Biswas
ØFounder/Coordinator, Trinidad Theatre Workshop Fund for Literature, Drama, Film
ØOutreach & International Relations Director, Network of NGOs of Trinidad and Tobago for the Advancement of Women
Other Career Highlights
International Development Educator, Lecturer, Facilitator, Consultant: 21 years
MultiMediaMedia/Journalism: 30 years: editor, manager, investigative reporter, script and storyboard writer, producer/publisher in print, electronic and new media
Author: Finding A Place (Ian Randle Publishers, 2001); Through the Political Glass Ceiling; LiTTscapes – Landscapes of Fiction from Trinidad and Tobago
AudioVisual Producer/Director/Writer/Researcher:20 years
Academia – lecturing at tertiary level formal, non-formal and informal sectors, course design, development and evaluation – 22 years
Some 30 years’ experience in developing formal and informal education sectors as a researcher, writer, educator, outreach and communication specialist and analyst of culture, migration, rural and urban development, diversity, multiculturalism and related areas of cross sectoral sustainable development;
Holds a PhD in Literatures in English. Doctoral theses examined issues of globalization, migration processes of adaptation and society-formation drawing from global-local knowledge and experiences of media and literary development of a small island state.
Have written and published extensively on themes of identity, migration, adaptation, urbanisation, and rural development in contexts of youth, gender, trade, crime, ecology, education and other topics;
Numerous peer reviewed articles and conference presentations, including three books that approach the issues of migration and social adaptations from various angles: journalism/information and communication (Finding a Place, Ian Randle Publications, 2002); gender appreciation (Through the Political Glass Ceiling – Race to Prime Ministership by Trinidad and Tobago’s First Female Kamla Persad Bissessar (2010) and popular culture (LiTTscapes – Landscapes of Fiction from Trinidad and Tobago (2012);
Educator/Train the Trainers & Capacity Building :
a: UNESCO: Training of Caribbean Stakeholders in diversity appreciation, activating Cultural Heritage and Creative Sectors: Belize, Trinidad and Tobago, Jamaica, Antigua and Barbuda, Guyana, Grenada, St Kitts/Nevis. UNESCO..
b. Caribbean Agricultural Research and Development Institute (CARDI). Training of Caribbean Agriculturalists in Outreach, Education and Development of Academic Journals and Publications:
c. National Institute of Higher Education Research, Science and Technology (NIHERST): Development of Outreach Initiatives for Science Popularisation:
d. Caribbean Institute of Women in Leadership: Develop Course Materials and Train Caribbean Women Leaders in Gender Sensitivity, Diversity Appreciation, Engagement & Outreach: Guyana, Antigua, Barbados, Trinidad and Tobago, Grenada
e. The College of Science, Technology and Applied Arts of Trinidad and Tobago (COSTAATT): Development and Delivery of Journalism and Literature Courses
f. Part Time Lecturer: Literatures in English; Foundational Courses; Literature and Caribbean Society: University of the West Indies.
g. External Supervisor, MSc Thesis Cultural Diversity Management: Institutional Reform
h. External Thesis Editor/Publication Adviser
i. Guest Lecturer: Literature, Culture, Media, Civic Empowerment for Sustainable Development, University of Catalona, Barcelona, Spain
Career Highlights: Education & Culture:
Educational Policy Development: Formal and Informal Education, Literature, Media Outreach, Lifelong Learning and Global Citizenship Education:
a. Capacity development for cultural and civil society communities across the Americas Successful trained stakeholders of all three Caribbean Small Island Developing States which achieved World Heritage status over the last five years (Antigua and Barbuda, 2016; Jamaica, 2015, Barbados, 2011 prior to this last inscription was in 1998).
b. Pioneered several international level policies through UNESCO/other international agencies for relevant actions for integrated and transboundary approaches to positively impact the Sustainable Development Agenda and integrate culture in development, promote global citizenship, rationally explore issues of migration and adaptation.
c. Devised models for multisectoral media and cultural outreach including one adopted from a model developed for the Caribbean for ACP-EU Seminar on Media and Agriculture, Brussels;
d. Development of the blue print of the action plan being used English speaking Caribbean countries for implementation of UNESCO Conventions; culling appreciation and development of incentive and award schemes; integrating developmental approaches across sectors and national boundaries and developing transboundary connections.
e. More than 15 years’ hands on experience in development and implementing policy programmes and actions in the global to local cultural heritage and creative industries spheres in UN agencies, UNESCO, OAS, ACP-EU, Commonwealth and civil society glocal organisations;
f. Keenly committed to working on realization of the sustainable development agenda, even beyond its stated goals to proactive engagement of culture-centred development for equity and fairness in all spheres and have participated in its development globally & locally;
g. Lifelong experiences of NGO work and community level experience in cultural development and have both culled international policy and worked on implementing such areas as Creative Cities, World Heritage, Intangible Heritage, Diversity of Cultural Expressions, Creative Industries, Copyrights, Trade and Development; Slave, Silk and Indentured Indian Immigrant Routes, Memory of the World, Rural and Urban cultural development, policy and legislative reform, civil society, youth and gender participation, empowerment and equity
Career Highlights: Journalism, Media, Information and Communication
j. More than 30 years as a communicator and journalist and about a decade as producer and publisher in multimedia forms exploring comparative cross-cultural and issues;
k. Extensive experience in research, writing for multimedia forms and presentation of messages on migration, diversity, inclusion for sustainable development, with intimate knowledge of most of international policy instruments in these regards and devising, developing, implementing and evaluating policies and strategies, advice and technical support, managing the process and content, transactions and operations in these areas and combined experiences in Management, having been a staff manager of a major media house before an independent career in cultural project management and policy development in the cultural and allied spheres of education and communications
l. Extensive experience in networking and collaborations both internally and externally, across boundaries, sectors, stakeholder interests, institutions and agencies with considerable successes in devising and developing networks around cultural matters, working with the diplomatic community, embassies, intergovernmental agencies, regional and international organizations, the European Commission and the European Council, Organisation of American States, Commonwealth Secretariat and commonwealth Foundation, InterAmerican Institutions and other organisations of the UN system, and Africa, Caribbean and Pacific Regions.
What constitutes wealth and where do we get it? I received this momento of wisdom from my mother that is worthy of introspection and reflection by all this Mothers’ Day….
The National Award for Development of Women/Journalism to me represents an acknowledgment of the sometimes nameless and voiceless women and others I have tried to represent; whose stories I have written, and whose views I have tried to articulate variously as a journalist, as an advocate and activist, as an author, educator and media practitioner in the quest for equity and inclusion, to open up spaces for women and advance a level playing field for all.
We who are given opportunities have a responsibility to give back and to leave our sphere better for those who come after. The wind beneath my wings has always been my now octogenarian mother who had little such opportunity as what she tried to provide for my siblings and I, who inspires with her humility and abundant love; who gives and asks for little in return and who instilled in me that my wealth is my mind. It is to her courage and resilience and quick wit that strengthens my resolve in substituting the pursuit of material wealth for the pursuit of knowledge.
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Ma and me
Ma surprises me one day, although I thought the battle was fought and won. It is no mean feat to de-condition centuries of tradition of the notion that marriage is not the ultimate goal for a woman’s self-fulfillment. Yet, I believe I had convinced Ma. I wasn’t in anyway averse to the notion. But life gets in the way. So much to do and so little time to do it in.
The hints and suggestions of appropriate life partners were becoming less frequent. It was a long time since I heard her speak of it. Perhaps she has resigned herself, I think.
Then Ma surprises me. We are talking now about my career. It is difficult to explain. I do not have a career. I do not really have what
people consider a real job. The demands of the NGOs had escalated. It left little time to visit, to talk. The schedule was getting hectic, one international NGO meeting after the other. I was beginning to feel the strain. There was little time to earn a living
and there were bills to pay…. Then Ma surprised me, by saying this…
Between Saving The World and Ma
…One December, I was invited to a meeting to design
international policy for Information and Communication Technology at the United Nations in Geneva – a follow-up meeting to the first World Summit on Information Society meeting held in Tunisia some years earlier, to assess the distance traveled in ICTs and the way forward. I had presented on the need for gender-sensitive ICT policy, with a critique of gender blindness in ICT policy. Rewind! FastForward, it was entitled. Fastforward was the name of the national ICT policy.
…My friend Gail arrives to take me to the airport, yet again., but she instead finds me sitting, half-dressed, my winter boots next to me, pensive.
“Come on. You are going to be late!” She sits me down and pulls my boots on.
“I don’t think I should go,” I tell her. “Ma’s not feeling well.” Ma had just turned 80….
When I went to tell her I was leaving again, I could tell that she was beginning to feel that this could be the
last time we would see each other. …
When A Mother Forgets A Birthday
There were many family occasions missed too. I felt that my
nephews and nieces knew of me from what they read of and by me. For many years my birthday went uncelebrated or in other lands. In Uganda, coordinating the outreach for the Women’s Affairs Minister’s Meeting, the women came together because Hazel Brown insisted that my birthday be recognised with a cake.
Then, Ma too, still remembered my birthday, though I was far away. I did not imaging that a day would come when she would not, and then one day that day came…
Mothers’ Day Missed
…In the weeks that I tried to pull together my second book, Through
the Political Glass Ceiling so it could be out before the general
elections. I felt a launch before the elections was crucial, because there were some prophetic elements therein, I felt. prophetic, guided by my original research that generally departs from and challenges the thinking of the day or long held notions – mostly guided by skewed research. I try to review and revise some of those about the political culture in this book’s introduction, The Clash of Political Cultures: Cultural Diversity and Minority Politics in a Small Island. I focused on the intangibles of political ideology that has often been overlooked in political and socio-cultural analyses. The world is only now awakening that to the reality that these overlooked elements are indeed central and core to democratic failures, and only now recognising how focusing primarily on overt factors can skew analyses. And that made it seem as if I had a Krystal ball – that is, prophetic. It was around these insights that I wrapped career the woman who was in line – or destined -to shatter the political glass ceiling as the first woman Prime Minister.
…When my family gathered for Mother’s Day, that May, I had to beg leave. The book had to get to the press; the launch was in a few days. And a few days after that the elections. Ma understood. She encouraged me to get it done. I took comfort that she would be at the launch. How much we take our mothers for granted.
And then she said…
It was after the launch of Through the Political Glass
Ceiling. We are sitting. I had just finished giving her a massage, with coconut oil, as she liked.
“When you going settle down, girl?”
Oh dear. That talk..again! I think in dismay.
“But I am settled Ma.”
“But who you going to leave your wealth to?”
It was not the question I expected from Ma. We were generally never a family whose prime impulse or focus was on material wealth. I should have known.
“What wealth Ma? I asked. Startled. I explained to her that I generally worked for just stipends to cover daily allowances, and when time permits, a few contracts that would have to cover the expenses of the months not formerly working.
“I am doing what I am called to do,” I tell her.
That’s when Ma surprised me.
“Your wealth is your mind. Who you going to pass that on
to?” Ma says.
And a little something extra in honour of Mothers’ Day – extracted from upcoming Autobiography, Life HoleHeartedly
At the grinding stone
‘Everytime I passing
gyul you peesaying masala….’
I discover the world in Ma’s kitchen: the crossroads of new
and ancient Asian, Arabian, African, American European culinary delights. The
scents in Ma’s kitchen are like the convergence of global force winds and
waters at the crosscurrents of the world.
Ma is humming, ‘Everytime I passing gyul you peesaying masala’ as she presses out ancient family
culinary secrets from the mystical Orient beyond the Middle Passage through
Pacific-Atlantic Spice Routes, rerouted and rerooted. Like tantalising tall
tales of the Arabian Nights they tease my senses out of my comfort zones of
fairytales through Tunisia and Turkey, Venice and Manhattan to discoveries that
will overturn histories and empires and turn pages, heads and square, oval and
round tables of global diplomacy…..
Everytime I passing
gyul you peesaying masala, Ma hums.
From the bowls of spices surrounding her, ancient unrecorded
lore transfers an exotic and erotic past from the perfumed gardens of the
ancient new world. Silken curtains swish against each other sinuously and in
sensual whispers seduces me to board closely guarded camel-drawn caravans laden
with dhania, pippali, nutmeg, cloves, maithi, nigella, cinnamon, cardamom,
mace, turmeric, across the deserts from Dravidian civilisations; aboard Persian
carpets of Iran and Iraq; pausing for refueling at the intersection of shipping
ports via the Arabian Sea into the Egypt’s Nile and the courts of Ramses; then
onward through to Mediterranean parts, Turkey, swashbuckling with the Ottomans
to enter Greece, to join Marco Polo through Rome, Venice; and Vasco De Gama
then Magellan in Portugal, and onto Spanish, French, Dutch Europe, and to the British Empire.And yes, Letter’s To Lizzie is to be reincarnated! stay Tuned….
And Now a Little Something Extra. From UpComing AutoBiography, LIFE! HoleHoleHeartedly!
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I am a bastard. The name I carry is not the one I was born with. And I do not refer
only to the truncated byline that accompanies this article.
(That was the Guardian’s doing. Days into what would turn out to be a career, not many moons ago, a dashing sub-editor faced me with the ultimatum of truncating my name or run the risk of not being
credited for my articles.)
For years I harboured clandestine thoughts that I was a bastard. In times when I wanted
to disown my family, I convinced myself I was orphaned; on better days I
savoured my secret – that I was a love child!
While I combed her hair, made wavy from decades of plaiting, or massaged her back, I
would smilingly indulge in this little secret I shared with my Ma. She groaned
approvingly every time I massaged an ache out. I dread to think what her real
reaction would have been had I voiced my thoughts…
But it was not just my imagination running wild. My bastardisation was the doing of
the State. It began when…….
….Five generations later, Moneah now lives: In the faces and the mannerisms and quirks of character of the some
3,000 women who can trace a bloodline to her.
I know of some of those women in her lineage, …
…. She would mourn him properly in the traditionally defined ways, and two years later
The increasing incident of violence and extremism in schools
emerged as a core concern of educators, parents, religious, community and
cultural heads identified the sense of alienation by migrant and first
generations and challenges with adapting to their adopted societies.
Embrace the Ancient New World. Join in our exciting voyages of discovery of our Interconnected Global Heritage. A world of knowledge unfolds where learning is a Journey not a Destination. Custommade to your occasion, event or needs. Any country, city, locale – Global, Local, Caribbean – GLOCaL.
About LOL GLOCaL Heritage Tributes
LOL GLOCal Hertiage Tributes celebrate the connections between indigeneous & migrant communities. They explore common cultural and other connections, and underscore our global heritage linkages. Drawn from the original research of Dr Kris Rampersad, participants uncover unique interrelationships through a diversity of experiences and modes of expression and exposition.
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LiTTributes Explore the InterConnections between Literary Heritage with other heritage that create a collective memory of the world.LiTTributes are special events that highlight linkages between the natural, physical, built and cultural heritage and creative synergies between them in print, music, dance, drama, art, cuisine and other lifestyle, graphic and audio-visual media. It is the fifth in a series of our global focus.
Our Heritage Tributes evoke and pays tribute to legacies of ancestors.
LiTTributes to the Americas. A Celebration of Arrivals. A Journey Through Silk and Spices.
We celebrate the lifestyles and heritage of peoples of the Americas.
Also see LiTTributes. Ask about our LiTTributes to the Laureates, celebrating Legacies of Learning.
The first LiTTribute to Toronto paid tributes to Mothers, Motherlands and Mother Cultures an he interlocking of indigeneous and new populations in Canada.
A Glimpse into Time
The first LiTTribute to the Americas explored the convergence of creative expressions of the Americas took place in April 2018.
The first LiTTribute to LondonTTown was staged in London in August 2013.
LiTTribute to the Antilles, took place at the Museum of Antigua and Barbuda in April 2013.
LiTTribute to the Mainland, gave insights into the ancient and new world connections between the islands and mainland Americas and was staged in Guyana in March 2013.
LiTTribute to the Republic took place in Trinidad & Tobago in collaboration with First Lady Dr Jean Ramjohn Richards in September 2012. It followed the WhiteHall LiTTribute and launch of the book, LiTTscapes – Landscapes of Fiction by Kris Rampersad. LiTTscapes is the commemorative publication of 50th/ Jubilee of Independence of Trinidad and Tobago.
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Anyone know of a local alternative to #Microsoft and some other #software and #hardware technologies and upgrades?
Does sustaining local enterprise mean disconnecting from global technologies?
Those who know me know I do not like shopping and am an advocate to #BuyLocal so I would appreciate info so as to avoid that new #7%Tax in addition to the other taxes already … see more www.kris-rampersad.blogspot.com