Minshall’s mas has stopped. David Rudder has migrated to Canada. Calypso
Rose to America. Businessmen have left. Graduates stay away. Students
don’t come home on holiday. An entire generation of people have been
silenced or removed.
15-year-old boy now under joint custody with his friends for allegedly
shooting two people dead, kidnapping, shooting and leaving a woman for
dead after flinging her over a precipice, is a child of 1990. He was born
and raised in a country that was suffering from post traumatic stress. Not
simply from the attempted coup, the hostage taking, the murders, the
burning and looting.
the infant, who grew up to be a murderer, was born in a country that was
pitted post-1990 by a more corrosive fuel which flowed into every crack we
ever had. It coiled around a young pregnant woman’s head, telling her
that a gun which was shoved into her Prime Minister’s mouth was actually
the supreme power.
simple but powerful message that guns silence words in Parliament and
television stations, shots can silence thousands, send masses scuttling
like no talk can, has permeated our country like nothing else.
cracks, perforated cracks. They were everywhere, ready to lap up the fuel.
Don’t you remember the years around 1990? Before and after? Then, we
were talking about the high level of poverty—it was 30 per cent of a one
million and something population. Remember the images of babies with
distended bellies, the prostitute mothers, the unregistered children, the
non-people in the Beetham? We were going to sort that out.
after tightening and loosening our belts several times, depending on the
flow of oil, we were talking about not depending on the oil. We had the
Frank Rampersad plan for diversifying, for giving sugar workers a new
start. But they and their leader would have none of it. Oh yes, the people
of Caroni have been on our minds for decades.
we drove into Laventille and pointed the cameras at young men and women
who weren’t going to school, at teenaged mothers, at grandmothers and
aunts raising children in broken streets smelling of disappointment,
listlessness, which made lives cheap, and actions reckless. They were
making their own home-made guns then to survive.
we were talking about the sick people who lay untreated, dying on the
floors in the General Hospital, of the shortage of doctors, beds, nurses
and linens. We were going to get systems, accountability, equipment.
then we were familiar with PNM corruption, and not so long after, with UNC
corruption, vote and constituency rigging on both sides, with
misdemeanours albeit by leaders on both sides of the House. One taking on
a Speaker of the House, another a president. We’ve seen it all. Nothing
we are a people bowed under siege, scarred by the full-blown
respectability crime enjoys, the brazen machismo, strutting pride it
confers, from the gang boy who gets shot in the back and shoots because it
makes him feel like a man, to the bravado of big men in suits.
our biggest downfall is ennui. Frustrated by lazy, corrupt politicians, we
have become too depressed to care ourselves.
allowed the oil, sun, wining profusion of public holidays, politics of
race to divert us.
look on warily, disbelievingly, as they draft bills and talk talk. About
crime, illiteracy, poverty, 2020, diversification, sustainable jobs, road
deaths, prison reform, health, tertiary education and reducing dependency.
implementation, time-lines, accountability. That’s too much work. The
sun is warm on our backs, the lime with the boys and young things going
good, the jamming necessary, the oil money flowing.
your people. Give them blood, a hanging spectacle. Look away from the
mirror of peoples’ soul—the withering mas and music. Forget education,
jobs, health. Watch the illiterate, poor, disenfranchised, frightened,
holed-up people clapping and shouting. More blood, please!