Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Better than that...please.

Today the comment was made that things were expected to change under the People's Partnership administration. It was in the context of the expectation that they would solve our problems. I wasn't that hopeful in that regard. The change I had hoped for is being tested in what Im about to say.

The lasting legacy of People's National Movement founding father Dr. Eric Willams was that "no dog dare bark", he was a leader that didn't take kindly to being challenged. In my adult years when reason set in, I lived under former PNM Leader Patrick Manning. Things were so bad at one point that persons were reprimanded for referring to him publicly without the nomenclature, Mr., It was Mr Manning or you're being disrespectful. Along with that came the observation that it was a lack of respect for him that would make you refer to him as 'Manning'. My favourite personality, however, was Patos Manning, a clever and accessible alter ego to the starchy figure that ruled in the style his party fashioned.

The young people have a saying "jump out yuhself", it refers to an act that is out of character or out of the expected behaviour that we accept as a society. Well I'm about to "jump out" myself and even that is an admission of the fear that still grips many of us when commenting on the actions of politicians. Particularly as media, I have been trained to reserve public comment that may lead to my neutrality being questioned.

Today the Government hosted a meeting in East Port of Spain. It follows the brutal killing of two teenagers in recent weeks, one of them a pregnant girl.

Coming out of the meeting Prime MInister Kamla Persad Bissesssar said she would reserve her response to the people but say that their most pressing concerns were a need for housing and jobs. As many times as I turn it over in my head I end up perplexed. Im like really? You have two dead teenagers and not one person in that community could have said what actually lead to their deaths, what they want is jobs and houses? Isn't there a bigger problem at hand here?

I wouldn't go so far as to say that low cost government housing schemes have failed but they do remain among this most violent communities in the country outside of the hot spots that border the capital. The figures will speak for themselves.

We have some housing projects, among the first built in the Capital by the State, two teenagers are gunned down within their walls in essence and what comes out of a meeting stemming from that is a call for houses and jobs - a bloody red herring if you ask me.

Now policing is the police job but was that the purpose of the meeting today? How different and revolutionary it would have been if we all now had a reason behind the killings of two teenagers, one of them pregnant? One teenager, Trayvon Martin was killed in the U.S. and the whole world took an interest in the circumstances that lead to his death. The repercussions of that incident still ripple through the shallow yet conscientious world of pop culture with statements being made to this day, weeks after the end of the trial that acquitted George Zimmerman. Or am I being naive, was that case really America's race obsession and nothing more?

It is scant courtesy on the part of the authorities to not demand answers from the residents of East Port of Spain. To quote my good friend Gillian Moor what kind of P.R. pappy show did we experience today. To compound that description there was a supposed media black out of the meeting, yet Government Information Services Limited had full access to the whole thing! So now it might be that the goings ons would be edited and packaged and presented by himself when the commentary was on himself, you get me?

I don't know who to ask but I want to know why those two teenagers were killed. It brings to mind the Tecia Henry killing. A ten year old girl is sent on an "errand" by her mother, her body is found buried beneath a house some days later. I mean I may be concerned if only because I fear for my own life as I seem to be living among a breed of savage not of the same making. The then prime minister was criticised for saying at his party's annual convention that it was an internal affair, or something to that effect, that it was a matter that that community understood and not something that the rest of us should really concern ourselves with. Today's action amount to the same thing in that the lives have been lost and moving forward we forget that and work to give the people what they want. Well some of us want more and more than answers, we want a world where we don't have savages pumping bullets into teenagers and we may even want a world where girls are not only not pregnant at 16, but murdered.

Its like we're all acting with impunity - criminals, politicians, citizens and media. It was so glaring a side step of the real issue that lead to the meeting that the prime minister was proud to say that Housing Development Corporation officials were on hand to address the concerns of the residents who called for housing assistance. I understand them being there given that the HDC acts like a nanny to its clients so much so that it assumes a part of all that affects them but was it that it was known that there would be a call for housing? This blog is like the proverbial tree that falls in the forest with no one to tell if it made a sound and to a degree I like it like that, its just for my readers to consider my perspective but the more I think about it the more vexing it all becomes.

I accept that governing is like managing in that you make the best of even the worst that can and will happen. What then prompts this piece? Some might say an opposition to the ruling party in that I may not have commented if another party was in power. Who is to say? The change I had hoped for was that I would live in less fear of our leaders. It may be hard to convince those who have an interest in seeing it otherwise that that is the case but its more true than its alternative.


  1. So umm, you really shine up the PNM to bun out the PP? But you correct my friend. We do not have a clue. It is a sad day in TT when material things carry more weight than saving lives.

    1. Jason nobody get shine up and nobody get bun know me better than that.

  2. Sterling, our value systems have changed. Not yours or mine per se but the nation as a whole and definitely not for the better!

    I first noticed this on November 19th, 1989 when thousands of ticket holders could not get into the stadium. Later on when Mr. Abu Bakr was released and compensated it was glaring. Mr Calder Hart - mind boggling! The re-election of Mr. Jack Warner - stupendous to say the least! When I think about these things Ella Andall's song 'Shame' comes to mind.

    Sterling, you and I may have recited and headed the words our national anthem and better yet, the pledge. But apparently for the greater part of our populace, these hallowed words are quite hollow, if not shallow and for a select few, they're even down-right distasteful.

    Our value systems have changed. Respect for one another and the sanctity of life has taken a back seat, the almighty dollar now reigns supreme.

    1. You're right we may get nowhere if we discard all that we stood for at the time of Independence.