have all felt it. An unnamed anxiety. It’s got to do with these tiny
islands. Some people have called it the nausea of living in a fish bowl in
which the cadavers of dead fish float.
immune to this anxiety live for shots of the endless round of spectacle,
of holidays in which the waist moves and the head remains empty: wine at
fetes, wine at carnival, wine at Christmas, wine at cricket, wine at
lives in summary:
executions; bullets in the head downtown; the bones of a brutalised
teenager; unstoppable fires; filth on the streets and highways; 500,000
illiterate; 500,000 living below the poverty line; falling oil prices; oil
and gas corporations easing out; escaping prisoners; mushrooming
gun-toting gangs; a record murder high (averaging more than one a day);
the everyday terror of kidnappings of children, women, men and the
menacing underworld’s bullet-riddled, Government- supported, hand-out
system (Cepep, URP); the highest incidence of Aids after Sub-Saharan
Africa; discrimination so oil wealth is being poured down the drain to
bribe voters to maintain the political status quo; no productivity;
marginalising of an entire increasingly impoverished ethnic group, laid
off by the thousands and systematically dumped out of the State’s safety
net; an Opposition without moral authority; an even more corrupt
Government; a brain drain that ranks third in the world, leaving behind
dregs of only the tenacious and those without options to carry on.
this week at St Mary’s College, a 13-year-old boy sitting in his
classroom calling his father after school hours suddenly saw black. A bag
was put over his head and his cell phone snatched out of his hand. This is
symptomatic of a country that shuts its eyes between taking a wine.
can only live here if we pretend it’s happening to someone else on TV,
if we tell ourselves the menace of the child rapist, contract killer, the
gangsta children is mimic.
what do the TV-mimic-unreal-wining-shutting-their-eyes-against-reality
Alice in Wonderland, Lewis Carroll’s brilliant book on the adventures of
Alice, which begins when she follows the White Rabbit down the rabbit
hole? He is a messenger and a herald at the Court of the King and Queen of
Hearts. He wears a waist-coat, carries a pocket watch and represents the
“yes men.” Just as baffling is the bizarre logic at work in
creature can justify the most absurd behaviour, their defence arguments
meaningless. Their strange reasoning is another source of delight for the
reader and challenge for Alice. She has to learn to discern between
unusual logic and utter nonsense.
inhabit a country in which Mad Hatters from parties fling tea cups at one
another, while a king screams “licks for all criminals” (who have
escaped, are on bail and have already murdered and kidnapped, so licks are
as ineffective as flies to them). Equally the queen speaks bafflingly of
“breakfasses” and exposes children to a wining calypsonian during a
march against crime, against her own king.
king orders an investigation into the queen’s education kingdom. The
challenger to the kingdom, the Cheshire cat, face fixed in an eerie grin
appears and disappears at random, forgetful of his unrepresented people.
The rest are a motley crew of knaves who stand accused of stealing the
State’s tarts, a bribe in Tobago, a bribe in Oil, a bribe in Works, and
instead of being held accountable, accuse knaves of the previous
administration of misdeeds.
all go free. No one resigns. The shrewdest lawyers gravitate towards
bestial criminals. No justice.
challenge is learn the rules of each new encounter, but retain a sense of
justice and survive the menace of and the idiosyncrasies of the creatures
she meets. Ours is to do the same.
law-abiding citizens are being squeezed in the wonderland from the top by
corrupt politicians who divide with race, from the bottom by guns. No more
cowering. Like Alice, we too can tower over those who will terrorise us.
Our power lies in numbers. Think of what we can do with that.