am not so vain as to think you would have the time to read this column on
a Sunday. Iím hoping though, that you might, if I wrote you an open
you may have heard about the latest kidnapping in Trinidad. This time we
couldnít pull the wool over our eyes and say it was drug related or a
revenge kidnapping as we do, unwilling to acknowledge the savagery around
Azizul Rahaman is a bright professional who has for decades tenderly
tended creatures who donít have a voice; a man who combines his medical
knowledge and compassion to care for animals. He brings that same
intuitive touch towards human beings. He has the gift of seeing and
healing the hurt in people by really seeing them for who they are rather
than what they look like or what they own. There is so much more to say
about Dr Rahaman. Little details that make doc, doc. The intellectual will
tell you he grasps complex issues; the religious will tell you he is a
good Muslim; his family says that if he could he would give away his money
to the needy faster than he needs it; animal lovers swear by him. The
thief who regularly stole his orchids will tell you that instead of
reporting him, Dr Rahaman helped get him off the streets.
thought of this slightly-built man with a large heart, who pleaded with
his abductors who were about to shoot his staff, to leave them alone and
take him instead, is heartbreaking.
our premier you have always addressed your citizens as brothers and
sisters. I want to tell you about them. They are suffering. I donít know
what happens to people after they get into power. The bodyguards, the
entertainment budget, the speeding cars, the power blinds them, turning
their own brothers and sisters invisible.
want to take your hand and lead you to your country, sir. Here is the
East-West corridor, riddled with guns, illiteracy, poverty and Cepep jobs
that plump up employment figures but destroy the manufacturing and
construction sector, and smash human minds, reduce them to dependent
vessels of entitlement.
is Central Trinidad where the illiteracy is even higher, where poverty and
alcoholism and incest are rife. Contrary to the myth of the happy
villager, these people live like savages, barely able to read, write,
scrape food together, havenít seen a toothbrush. They, too, are your
brothers and sisters.
here is the East Indian business community, dotted around this country
amongst other businesses. Every entrepreneur here remembers walking
barefoot to school and long, long hours of toil to build their houses, buy
their cars, educate their children, contribute to their countryís
this community is singled out for kidnapping.
brothers and sisters, hundreds of thousands of them are cowed, terrified
by rising kidnapping, as voiceless, as helpless as the animals that Dr
Rahaman has tended all his life.
a father, son and husband you have felt unspeakable tenderness for your
children, wife, parents, silently with your hand on their heads, prayed
for their safety. Can you imagine how you would feel if that were snatched
from you? Visit the Baksh and Rahaman families. A heavy cloud pressing on
your heart, an unending scream of anguish.
I have personally informed your Education Minister of university
statistics: Half of our population is semi-literate. Some 300,000 people
canít read or write at all. Five hundred thousand people live below the
poverty line. They have the watchful and empty stares of hollow men,
looking for an opportunity. Theyíll kill for a pair of sneakers.
we are in La Seiva at dusk. More than 600 people of every creed and race
are walking with candles, to Dr Rahamanís practice, a silent protest, a
flickering but tenacious hope that heíll be home. This brutality must be
cut down, not with guns but with education and hope.
home, sir. Use your power to help your illiterate, poor, voiceless,
helpless and your frightened people. Itís your job.