In 1912, the Titanic began its maiden voyage across the Atlantic from England to New York. The ship was thought to be unsinkable—as though God was not only a Trini but was also the Titanic’s owner.
Four days into its voyage, the Titanic hit an iceberg and sank with loss of many lives.
The delusion about the ship’s unsinkability is not the only parallel to our Republic. Travelling first-class was not merely a perk of having money; it also carried disdain for the other classes, especially “those people” in third class.
When the hull of the ship was split by the collision with the iceberg, some of the gates in the third-class section were locked, thereby making it impossible for those passengers to reach the deck and the lifeboats.
A famous incident related to the sinking of the Titanic was that the eight-piece band hired to play for the first-class passengers during dinner assembled on the deck and played throughout the chaos of the sinking in an effort to calm the frightened passengers.
As the debacle of the grave allegations against the Chief Justice has unfolded, I have neglected commentary on our vibrant cultural sector despite attending a number of events, which continue to demonstrate that we already have in place all the necessary ingredients for diversification of the economy through our cultural products.
Attending these events and mingling with fellow citizens keeps hope alive and the musicians keep us calm while the murder rate rises dramatically and Government ducks key issues. Meanwhile, those travelling on the VVIP deck of the Titanic Trinidad take on nothing except the furtherance of their wealth and self-anointment with perceived status.
Their indifference to events adversely affecting the rest of the population below the VVIP deck does have an exception. When there is a challenge to the status quo, they rouse themselves to close ranks in an attempt to protect it.
This has resulted in futile attempts to save the reputation of the Judiciary by doing everything except the right thing—which is, to lean on the Chief Justice either to answer the allegations or get out. The VVIPs use means like anonymous, sleight-of-hand advertisements and the appointment of toothless committees. They also make botched attempts at censorship in response to the sexual harassment iceberg.
I must leave those topics for now and tell briefly of my recent visit to Pan in d Rosa and what it showed about being on the Titanic Trinidad—not yet fatally holed but on its way there.
Pan in d Rosa is a concert and a lime which takes place in a field within Santa Rosa Heights. A family resident there, aware that we are pan lovers, invited us to come and park by them and take the five-minute walk from their home to the field.
Of course, an invitation like that means a lot more than a parking space. There is a pot on the stove with pelau to enjoy before going across to the field and fish broth to be made when we return.
As we walked to the field, nearby homes were celebrating this annual community event with persons sitting out on the porch or in the yard—no doubt similarly hosting family and friends. The field was packed; the musical treats from the eight invited steel orchestras rich and varied.
Of equal richness is the vibe of the neighbourhood and, at the field. Its characteristics are the peace and camaraderie that are the essence of Trini life, so gravely threatened by poor governance and by the corruption that has put the fatal by-products of drug and human trafficking on our doorsteps.
These by-products affect us to the extent that the field in d Rosa started emptying before midnight, with top bands still to play. We have to plan to drive in convoy and to take a circuitous route back home after the fish broth—considerably later than midnight—intent on avoiding risky areas.
We have to have our own backs because no one else does, even though we give them the constitutional power and authority.