Walking 26 kilometres in the blazing sun, cultural activist Ravi Ji, 64, kept his promise for the fifth consecutive year.

He surprised many people who questioned his ability to walk the distance.

Sweating profusely as they covered the distance with him were UWI Pro Vice Chancellor, Planning and Development, Dr Bhoendradath Tewarie and former government minister Sadiq Baksh. A handful of others who remembered the occasion were on the road at 6 a.m. to start the long walk to San Fernando from Chaguanas.

Born out of a resolution taken by Ravi Ji, the walk marked the 124th anniversary of the Jahaji Massacre when 22 indentured labourers, including women and children, were killed on October 30, 1884 and another 120 injured when colonial forces fired their guns into crowds of people attempting to commemorate the religious festival of Hosay.

The parade was prevented from entering the city of San Fernando by a contingent of 74 policemen, headed by Captain Arthur Baker.

Last Sunday, led by Ravi Ji, the Chaguanas group of 40 arrived at Balidaan Tola (commemorative site), Mon Repos, San Fernando before the scheduled 1 p.m.

Dr Tewarie had prepared a speech in which he called on government to recognise the significance of the Jahaji Massacre.

He said that the time had come for the nation to take notice of its history. He said that soon after the massacre, the famous water riots broke out in 1903, during which the building which preceded the Red House in Port of Spain was burnt to the ground and 16 people were killed.

"Later, from May-July in 1934 over 15,000 Indian estate labourers were involved in what were described as "disturbances" on the estates but later escalated into a hunger march to Port of Spain by striking oilfield workers," he said.

He said that the events led to 1970, best remembered by local historians for the 'Black Power Revolution' which saw the joining of forces of university students through the National Joint Action Committee, trade union leaders and disgruntled sugar workers.

"While the reasons for the demonstrations would have been different, all show the strength of the people of Trinidad and Tobago and contrary to what some would have us believe, we have a history of defiance and strength," he said.

He said that all these events must be included in Social Studies and History syllabuses at secondary schools.

Tewarie also called on the National Museum and the Indian Caribbean Museum to establish special exhibitions in commemoration of the massacre next year and, out of it create a permanent, dedicated exhibition.

"I will do everything that I can to ensure that the massacre at Balidaan Tola receives its rightful place in our history," he said.

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