From my very first year as a columnist in 2002, I criticised our dysfunctional national security system and took up then, by their names, the cases of several murder victims. I have consistently continued to do so.
Even then, murder was already being carried out with impunity.
There was no equivocation in these columns about what solutions were required to take us beyond ritualistic references to the death penalty, “zero tolerance”, offensive excuses such as “drug related”, “domestic issues” and “collateral damage” and, in 2011, a bogus state of emergency.
The apparent strategic alliances between elements in our Governments and criminal elements were condemned and I warned that “excusing or covering up crimes or other breaches of duty is a threat to the existence of the legal system. Public officials take the soft options of excuses in this important area of political life to our peril.”
As predicted, the peril has now materialised to the extent of impeding constitutional governance.
En passant therefore, it cannot be fairly said of those tirelessly combating domestic violence and of commentators exposing the void in our civilisation that their concern for the solving of the murder of Japanese pannist, Asami Nagakiya, was subordinated to recent protests against the “victim shaming” of her.
These columns have also emphasised the need to reform the education system by “moving away from a grammar school system and the low esteem placed on trade and technology subjects.” And from churning out students with “passes” while “a relatively small number of young people emerge from the education system properly equipped to face the adult world.”
I have repeatedly called attention to the dire situation of the underclass and the urgency of a comprehensive, well researched social development programme.
Last week, more than a decade later, the education consultation declared the education system as failing and reference was made to parents “breeding monsters.”
Why were the political directorates in denial for so long?
On the positive side, the natural performing arts aptitudes of our people have received attention in many of these columns. These gifts constantly manifest themselves not only in pan, but in other musical instruments as well as song, dance and theatre.
The expressions of these gifts belong at the core of a social development programme.
There are pro-active communities saving children from the reach of the predatory elements in the society and the dysfunctional, “monster” conditions of child abuse, substance abuse, domestic violence, homelessness and the lure of gangs.
My latest experience and interaction with a multi-talented, well motivated, community led youthful human resource base, this time was Kavita’s find. We attended a stage play last weekend at the Central Bank auditorium entitled The Last Flight TWA 800.
The entire production was the work of a small family church, Champion Dynamics International Ministries. The script was written and the play directed by the pastor’s wife, Mrs Onikka Narine. All the cast members were members of the church, the majority of whom were in their early to mid-twenties.
The plot was relevant, well acted and so funny at times that I thought to myself: move over Choo Kong, you have serious competition. It was a splendid piece of theatre.
There were of course elements of the script that reflected some values that might be considered inflexible but the lightness of touch of the players and the real theatrical value of the performance were sufficient to cause an appropriate suspension of resistance to such a point of view.
Some weeks before, one afternoon, I sat under a samaan tree in the Queen’s Park Savannah. I did so as a result of an invitation of a committed pan parent and a young arranger on the eve of the Junior Panorama competition. They were two of the moving forces of RIPE (Revelation Institute for Performing Education) a registered not for profit youth organisation.
They have not yet won a Junior Panorama in their category—21 years and under—but the group is clear about “collaborating with those who share their vision for using the performing arts as a means of developing children into well rounded and useful citizens.”
In the primary school category, Tacarigua Presbyterian won in its first try. Vice-Principal, Deryck Kistow spoke enthusiastically about the children in his school who took to pan playing and was quoted as saying that pan in schools was “an amazing initiative” deserving of support.
Our young people have all of the dynamics of champions. I am pleased respectfully to borrow the church’s name as the theme for this column.
Sadly, we lack leadership vision at the national level to set about to fully reap the peace dividend, which will come out of enlightened State and private sector support of the communities saving our children as part of a comprehensive social development programme.
I have written about so many of these communities. They ought to be consulted. We need to get a move on.