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Not Condemning: What was point of President Weekes’ “Laventille Nights” visit?

Curiosity got the better of me last Friday—on 8 June 2018—and I chose the much publicised “Laventille Nights” with our first female President, President Paula-Mae Weekes, over my usual Friday evening lime with friends.

I wasn’t sure if it was at Beetham or Sea Lots but the flashing blue lights, as we drove near the area, signalled the Police’s presence in Sea Lots. We worked our way through the narrow streets to the Sea Lots Basketball Court and I counted eight marked police vehicles, several heavily armed police officers and seven dark tinted SUV-type vehicles.

Photo: President Paula-Mae Weekes (right) sits with students from her alma mater, Bishop Anstey High School (POS) at her inauguration ceremony on 19 March 2018.
(Courtesy Office of the President)

It was just after 8:00pm and the interview had already begun, so we quickly settled into the garden chairs. There was a continuous murmur as the interview continued. The 50 or so children in the audience looked to be aged between five and 11 with a few babies on the shoulders of young women.

In the bleachers surrounding the basketball court sat a handful of young men—conspicuous among them with very visible, heavy gold chains was Cedric “Burkie” Burke, whose appearance at another function with the former president had been front page news.

I commend President Weekes for accepting the request to speak in Sea Lots, however I am unclear about the intended outcome of “Laventille Nights”.

Who does it target? Why 8:00pm on Friday? What difference is it expected to make?

Based on the publicity, I expected a more adult audience and an even more robust conversation.

Curiosity got me there and it was interesting to note the absence of parents coupled with the presence of children who should have been in bed. What would motivate parents to herd their children into a gathering at a basketball court at that time and disappear?

Photo: Alleged Rasta City president and Sea Lots Good Fella, Cedric “Godfather Burkie” Burke.
(Copyright Islandmix)

The star moment came when the father of Andrea Johnson expressed his total delight and pride at the accomplishments of his daughter. The necessary thanks were then expressed and the President’s entourage departed.

As the President’s entourage disappeared, the entertainer Voice was introduced and the children became fully awake. When I left, it was to the trailing sound of the famous line in his hit song, “This Is The Year For Love” and I wondered: What has changed? What difference will our first female President make? What is the leverage needed to move our society?

The following evening, I drove past the entrance to Sea Lots and this time, only darkness engulfed the area. There was not a flashing blue light or a uniformed police officer, only a shadowy figure in the distance.

Life continues and I fully expect that the next time Sea Lots residents receive a visit from heavily armed police officers, it will be to quell some disquiet or extract a wanted citizen.

About Dennise Demming

Dennise Demming
Dennise Demming is an Adjunct Faculty Member at UWI, Media and Communications Strategist, TEDxPOS organiser and co-licensee for TEDxPortofSpain and Chairman of the Board at TTTHTI. Dennise, who grew up in East POS, also has a Business MBA and B.Sc. in Political Science & Public Administration and Mass Communications from UWI.

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3 comments

  1. You didn’t need to put pen to paper on this one.

  2. Steups! So why you always have to be so negative? I don’t see you being critical of the nonsense of your PLOTT organization when she made her insentive and erroneous comment about an earlier statement this year from Her Excellency. You always seem to be on the case of Her Excellency and or the PNM government. You should really continue with your Friday night limes with your friends. Not even a positive comment or congrats to i95.5, all you can see is negatives. Keep up the good work i95.5 with your always positive Laventille (k)Nights while Ms. Demming or should it be Ms.Damning, go and enjoy her Avenue Nights.

  3. not hearing a lot from her on current issues