Flourishing in a heap of political garbage


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Category: Trinidad Politics 29 Mar 15

Driving home in a warm sunset I felt my heart lilt with joy, rolled down the car window. A group of women spread their mats under a Poui tree in the Savannah, blossoms beneath, falling softly as the breeze on them. I wasn’t prepared for that line of blossoms across one stretch of the Savannah.

The hills olive green awaiting the yellow to flower. An artists dream. Family, food cooked by loving hands at home, warmth. But as the evening progressed, I felt my joy turn to disappointment, anger and finally, total disgust. I went to bed thinking.

How long can a country continue to run itself? It’s an election year and the leaders are still treating us as if we are sheep, unreflecting, living from day to day, easily distracted by smutty theatricals. How could they talk of ‘dog’ and ‘cat’ when over 500,000 of us are functionally illiterate? How could they talk of “cowards” and innuendo on “pipes” when we have the tenth highest rate of murder in the world?

How could they stand up there and simply have a nasty little fishmonger’s quarrel amongst themselves, the ruling party and the Opposition, about who is a son of rape, and who they will put in jail when we have fallen in the world corruption index dramatically?

How could they move motions of “no confidence” when actually no one seems to give a flying f*** about the fact the country runs without any systems, without any checks and balances, in every area from government contracts to taxes, leaving the door wide open for those in a position of power to plunder or bully the weak? And what happens to disgust and misery when it finds no outlet.

We become depressed people addicted to mindless games created by politicians. We gather around the arena of their vitriol and it becomes our entertainment. We are addicted to their childish, vindictive statements to escape our grim reality. We are absorbed by mindless video games where people kill one another.

We are so absorbed by abuse that we are drugged to the point of inaction. They know it’s our weak point. It’s time to step out of the game. To say ‘stop’. ‘No more.’ If you politicians are going to lead us, then answer some proper questions. What plans do you have to improve healthcare? How are you going to restructure the police service so as citizens we don’t see them as scary men with guns who don’t solve crimes? What are you putting in place for economic growth, for manufacturing and industry?

When will you turn our overflowing toxic dumps into landfills? How are you going to create proper jobs? When will you stop the Government funded make-work criminal gang industry and use the money to tool and retool, educate and train our young people?

When are you going to train and educate teachers properly? When will the EMA regulate Point Lisas? When will you be serious about straining an institute for artists to study pan, art, costume? How will you rehabilitate our illiterate? When will you train social workers to go into the areas where the boys on the block are waiting to become just another generation of boys with a short lifespan that will be filled with brutalising our citizens?

When will we see transparency in big government contracts? When will you enforce litter laws? Easter is a time for taking stock, for looking at the polished mirror. What we see is grotesque. Taking stock. Last week, the nation was brought to gridlock. It was an analogy for a country where the police show their muscle by ‘working’, with the shadow of a greater menace. If they can hold the country hostage like this, it’s the foreshadowing of how much more they can do. The power of guns.

Taking stock. We remain among the most polluted country in the world. We dump more than 50 million plastic bottles in our dumps and one million glass bottles every month. Plastic when exposed to heat creates among the deadliest toxins known to man.

In January 2010, three ministers sat on the CNC3 set with me and promised that soon, yes very soon, T&T will be recycling like Barbados, which recycles 70 per cent of its waste, like the rest of the developed world, that we will have a bottle bill. I visited the Beetham dump. By September 2010 I wrote: “Sitting in an air-conditioned van in the middle of a sea of garbage, our view blurred by thick raindrops on glass. A seamless darkness spread from sky to earth.

It was the stuff of nightmares. Rain pelting down on a field of garbage as far as the eye could see: paper, plastic bottles, food cartons, cardboard boxes, broken plastic chairs, rusting electronics, steel drums, ripped books, paper, bottles, plastic bottles, cans, bleach bottles. Rats. Cockroaches.

A line of black turkey vultures, corbeaux on a stretch of stone. And then the moving figures, hunched, shapeless, Dickensian. It was difficult to tell the men from the women, scavengers dressed in layers of rags, seemingly sleepwalking, unaware of the trucks off-loading garbage, untouched by the pelting rain, filling up bags, merged into the grim landscape.”

I look up at the hills now, spot a yellow poui, and marvel at a country that flourishes in a heap of political garbage.


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All Articles Copyright Ira Mathur