I saw defeat in that face


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Category: Profiles 10 Feb 08


SHE slipped out of this country quietly the Friday before Carnival, to Kenya, to take up her post as Assistant Secretary-General in the UN Environmental Programme.

Sitting with her, I saw defeat in Angela Cropper’s face.

This woman, who sacrificed three lives to this, her country, that of her husband, sister and mother, to murderers.

Cropper’s revenge is to create a world where this could not happen again. Not by hanging, but by humanising; by serving, pushing for development through education, environment, and economy on over 35 programmes, regionally, locally internationally.

She is going thinking she isn’t needed. She wasn’t allowed to contribute. We are letting her go.

Angela Sarojini Persad Cropper was born to a humble family in Penal. Her mother was married at 14, and had her first child at 15, had six children, was widowed for the second time at 30.

She was the first in her family to go to secondary school, for which she is grateful to the late Dr Eric Williams for the Concordat scholarship programme.

When she was in detention in her library one day, she came across the concept of doing one’s duty in a Greek myth.

She made duty her mantra and lived by it. She helped to support her mothers and siblings financially by working in a bank.

After meeting her husband John, she continued her studies at UWI, completing two degrees in law and economics. She wanted to give back.

“I wanted to be part of a process that promotes sustainable development, that is equitable, just and fair. All my work is a vehicle for that.”

That’s why she agreed to being an independent senator. But she wasn’t able to do her duty here.

“Independent senators were accused of being anti-PNM and of representing no one. A cursory look at the records will show how untrue that was.

“The responses to Parliament were vacuous. When I commented that the budget didn’t plan for the future, I was told that ‘it did,’ with no analysis or explanation.

“Prof Deosaran’s motion to debate crime took two years, because it was interrupted endlessly. The motion before the Senate had to be renewed three times.

“I suggested that we shouldn’t allow the procedures of Parliament to get in the way of substance, since crime was the top concern of the nation. (Private Members Day is on the fourth sitting of every month.)

“I was told to take that to the constitutional reform committee. The Senate was cancelled to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the PNM, but we were not able to modify a private motion so we could debate crime.

“I felt like Alice in Wonderland, drinking endless cups of tea, getting nowhere.

“The politicians are saying ‘T&T, go to hell.’ It’s strange how during election season people are browbeaten, harangued into believing everything will be all right if they vote for race, rather than issues.

“A day later, there were protests by the staunchest supporters of the party for roads, pay hikes, living conditions.

“There are 148,000 people who voted for COP who don’t want it that way. They remain unrepresented.

“I don’t believe my move to Kenya will be any more risky than living here. At least in Kenya the killing is over some ideal.

“Why are we killing here? For material gain? Because we got out of the wrong side of bed? Because we are motivated by our personal greed?

“We are losing our gentleness, an ingredient of humanity. Even our partying is being done with a primordial vengeance.”

She left at dusk. She would have stayed if she felt she was allowed to contribute.

We have wrung her out.


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All Articles Copyright Ira Mathur