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Kwame Ture Education Center, Elijah Muhammad Masjid and Black Agenda building open in Trinidad as NOI progresses

By Brian E. Muhammad -Staff Writer- | Last updated: Jun 5, 2018 - 10:24:38 PM

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Student Minister David Muhammad (R) Black Agenda Building

History was made in Trinidad and Tobago with the official opening of the Black Agenda Building and Kwame Ture Educational Center in three days of events in the country May 25-27.

Opening the facility was a crowning achievement for the Nation of Islam and others who united and sacrificed to bring it into existence against the odds and despite opposition. It was a win for marginalized Black Trinidadians in a country where East Indian, Chinese and Arab communities thrive.

Many Black people doubted the endeavor could be accomplished. However, belief won over doubt, said David Muhammad, the Nation of Islam representative to the Eastern Caribbean and Trinidad and Tobago.

“We are bonded through an unbreakable common past as well as a common destiny,” said Student Minister Muhammad. “Our success, progress and development is largely dependent upon our love, trust and togetherness with one another.”

The dedication culminated with the live webcast of a message by the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan on May 27 from Chicago.

The dedication coincided with the Sixth Annual African Unity Conference, themed “One Black Community,” held May 26 and hosted by Roxanne Muhammad with a keynote address by Student Minister David Muhammad. Among nearly 1,000 people attending were a diverse list of organizations, leaders, guest speakers and performers.

Residents pack the grand opening of the Black Agenda Building in Trinidad.

Student Minister David Muhammad delivers remarks at new community center. (R) Roxanne Muhammad hosted program

Singer Nigel Rojas, master steel pannist Akinola Senna and a “drum-ology” presentation from All Mansions of Rastafari provided entertainment. Along with the Nation of Islam Caribbean representatives’ Watson Duke, the Minority Leader of Tobago House of Assembly, and Akil Audain, a government Councilor for Laventille, also spoke.

The weekend began on Friday, May 25, at the facility in the Honorable Elijah Muhammad Masjid with Jumu’ah—the traditional Muslim congregational prayer service led by Imam Yasin Abu Bakr, the leader of the Jamaat al-Muslimeen Islamic community in Trinidad.

David Muhammad greeting Imam Yasin Abu Bakr. (R) Dennis Muhammad (Guyana), Mikhail Muhammad (St. Vincent), Clive Muhammad (Jamaica), Abdul Rahman (Barbados) and David Muhammad

A Pan-Afrikan Caribbean Unity Forum was held later in the day on May 25. The session brought together Nation of Islam representatives from Trinidad, Guyana, Jamaica, Barbados and St. Vincent and the Grenadines with representatives of the Pan African Federalist Movement chaired by Felipe Noguera, its regional coordinator.  The movement aims to unify Africa within one generation and unite the continent with descendants of enslaved Africans in the Caribbean, North America, Latin America, Europe and Asia.

The 6,000 square foot facility was constructed from the ground up on three quarters of an acre of state land obtained by the Black Agenda Project. The facility was funded independently by people pooling their resources financially and volunteering their skills, labor and material, said David Muhammad.

Some $700,000 was spent constructing the building that is worth approximately $7 million, he said. That is the benefit of unity and sacrifice, said David Muhammad. 

The site is in Success Laventille in East Port-of-Spain, which is considered one of the poorest and most troubled areas.

Student Minister Muhammad  described “naysayers” who he called “victims of mental poisoning” questioning why Laventille?

“The answer to that is so simple,” remarked David Muhammad. “Because I am of the belief that if Jesus the Messiah were here today, and he had a mission, he would come straight into East Port-of-Spain, Laventille, straight into the prisons to see our brothers and sisters on lockdown,” he responded during his keynote speech.

Every aspect of the project came from the guidance and vision of Minister Farrakhan, he told The Final Call.  

The Nation of Islam headquarters in Chicago is the National Center for the Re-education and Training of the Black Man and Woman of America, the goal for the Trinidad facility is to be the same for the Caribbean.

The Black Agenda Building was constructed from the ground up and houses community cultural facilities.

The multi-purpose use building is patterned after how Minister Farrakhan set up The Final Call Administration Building in Chicago during the early years of the rebuilding efforts of the Nation of Islam, said David Muhammad. 

The building contains the offices of the Nation of Islam Eastern Caribbean headquarters, the Honorable Elijah Muhammad Masjid and the Kwame Ture Educational Center.

Lifting the name of Kwame Ture on the Educational Center in Trinidad and Tobago is significant. Kwame Ture is a national hero of Trinidad who was never honored by any government in the country of his birth.

“As a matter of fact, he was actually dishonored by being banned from even entering the land of his birth,” said David Muhammad. Past governments shunned the revolutionary figure at the behest of foreign powers.

Overall the facility was first born out of Minister Farrakhan’s teaching on the purpose of a “Black Agenda and defines the scope of the center’s work, explained David Muhammad. The location will be the base for serving the social and economic needs of the Black community locally and across the Caribbean.  

Student Minister Muhammad is hoping the project will be the blueprint for the rest of the Caribbean, because as a model it illustrates the thinking and guidance of Minister Farrakhan, which facilitates people being involved without necessarily relinquishing their faith or ideological traditions, he said.

The Black Agenda building is a milestone that’s reaping the fruits of legwork the 85-year-old leader did going back to the 1980s through the 2000s, said David Muhammad. 

The grand opening included entertainment.

“In the 2000s, where I was blessed to be with the Minister in many of the meetings that he had with heads of government, he shared with each of the prime ministers, governors and opposition leaders a vision for a one, united Caribbean,” he explained.

“A new Federation of the West Indies,” which meant the willingness to sacrifice individual leadership for a wider good, said Mr. Muhammad sees the work of the center as playing a critical role in realizing the Minister’s vision.

Attendees used social media to express the impact of the center being opened and the days of activity. 

Colin “Soulboy” Williams posted on Facebook: “700 Black Brothers and Sisters with their Children and Elders. No Policemen No Policewomen in or out of cars. I had the similar feeling when I went to Saviours’ Day.”

“When oppressed people are left alone they can take care of their own affairs,” he added.

“I can think of no other organization in Trinidad who has zeroed in on the root cause of what ails our nation and who has actually done something to address it,” wrote Gemme David, who also attended and posted her thoughts on social media.