Symbolic of the moral and ethical wasteland that we as a nation have become is the apparent dearth of flourishing fruits and natural habitat, which we once enjoyed and ravished with impish delight.
Do mangoes, avocados, pommerac, plum and cherries grow in abundance as in days gone by? We, meaning our political leaders, took our eyes off that ball and we might quicker find apples and grapes than some good ole starch.
Alas, if we could at least be nostalgic for an era of honest politicians in our nation. We don’t need a forensic search to tell us that wishful period never happened.
Let’s be clear here, politicians from Dr Eric Williams to Dr Keith Rowley—and all the crooks, conmen and conwomen in between—were assigned, elected and entrusted to take us from being colonials to being if not masters of our destiny, then at the very least corroborators in pursuit of our destiny.
They have been abysmal failures at both.
Commentators, including myself, write and hint at things, imply things and mask things with innuendo and analogies. We owe it to our nation to be clearer and more forthright, as this fight—not only for the nation’s soul but for its treasury—is an existential one and we must be fearless protagonists in this regard.
So here goes: hundreds of billions of dollars have been stolen by our politicians and their accomplices over the last 50 odd years! Let me repeat that: hundreds of billions of dollars have been stolen by our politicians and their accomplices over the last 50 odd years!
“Buh wha wrong with Nakhid boy? We all know dat… Steupsssss!”
And that’s the point. We all know that. And what’s worse is that we have all accepted it; embraced it even. Unaware that the reason we can make statements like ‘is we turn to thief’ and ‘is Indian time now’, is the result of a psychological division further perpetuated by the neo-colonial politicians who we have given the reins of power from Dr Williams to Dr Rowley.
We, the Caribbean people, are truly the first global people. Nowhere else on earth has such a melange of cultures and peoples been thrown together under such oppressive and trying conditions. But instead of seeing the possibilities of being a model to the world, our false messiahs (politicians) have used it to simply enrich themselves.
How myopic! How unfortunate! Each community in Trinbago has become recidivist. Why this word in this context? Here’s why: instead of using our history to propel us towards mental emancipation (thanks Brother Bob), our history has pushed us back to mental and sometimes physical insularity—so it’s Indo-Trinbagonian, Afro-Trinbagonian, Syrian-Lebanese-Trinbagonian, Chinese-Trinbagonian, etc.
We seem unaware that this recidivism leads to a mental inbreeding, making us incapable of realising our potential as one people. So there’s no empathy for the black boys and girls under fire on the hill every day because ‘is dem community’ not our nation’s children.
So the embodiment of the nation’s 1% can speak with contempt to Anthony Bourdain, as if they were not only physically apart(heid) but socially, mentally economically so. As if we, the larger population, do not know how their obscene wealth in many cases was acquired.
And for those hiding their heads in the sand, I point you again to the Scott Drug report. Trace the names of those from the so called Syrian-Lebanese community mentioned in that report to the exponential wealth now enjoyed by them and their relatives.
No, its not the hard work that afforded some from this community the power and lifestyle they now enjoy, as they would like us to believe. It’s the obsequious and complicit behaviour of our politicians that facilitated this exponential increase in wealth to the detriment of our nation as a whole.
Let me relate to you a story: in 2005 after a tragic weekend of violence on the hill where some seven or more black boys were killed, I pointed the finger at some in the Syrian-Lebanese community, who by their illicit businesses unleashed death and destruction in primarily the black communities of Trinidad and Tobago.
I was subsequently fired from the National Senior Team football setup and accused of racism. The reaction in the streets was typical, those with bread to butter were indignant, angry and outraged at my comments, their ‘house negro’ antics in full view—loving their ‘massa’ more than massa loves himself; and that included quite a few people I would refer to as friends.
But then people on the other side of the street were also talking. A so-called Syrian-Lebanese woman teaching at a school in West Trinidad poured her eyes out to a mutual friend, as she despondently admitted: “we know Nakhid is right in what he is saying; but what can the rest of our community do?”
Then while on my way to CIC grounds, with the news cycle repeatedly playing my comments and the story of my subsequent firing, I got a call: “David ….where are you? Can you come to my house now?”
It was Ameer Haidar, Lebanon Honorary Consul to Trinidad and Tobago.
“Hey Ameer, what’s wrong?”
He replied in the distinct accent of a foreigner speaking with a Trini dialect: “boy ah getting plenty calls from the community about you. We need to talk. Come nah.”
As we sat down to talk in the garden of his house, I could hear the worry in his voice—not for me; but for the reaction of the street that his so-called community felt they were facing.
“David boy, why yuh have to talk about them (meaning the corrupt elements of his community)? Talk about [Basdeo] Panday, [Patrick] Manning but not about them.”
Let me be clear, it was not a threat by any means. It was as matter of fact as that despicable lot with Anthony Bourdain, calmly stating that they were the wealthy 1% of Trinidad and Tobago.
I have thought about that meeting often and the power of the street, if united, to not only unnerve the powers that be; but to launch revolution removing those same powers. And our politicians, both entrenched and aspiring, must quickly recognise this or it’s death and destruction for all. The situation is untenable!
The political tricks of balance restorers such as Carnival Season, Arrival Day, Emancipation Day or whatever day used to obscure the nation’s reality are becoming thread bare. The streets are talking.
As I stated in a previous article: ‘corrupt politicians fear three things only—loss of power, loss of wealth… and loss of life’. The guns that you have allowed to be turned inwards to the black communities will sooner rather than later turn outwards and there will be a reckoning.
We the citizenry, by our vote, have given you the privilege to be modern day prophets, so as to lead us out from this morass—the mental, economic and social decay that colonialism and neo-colonialism inflicted, which was then perpetuated by your political class and the upper class that you enabled.
House negroes will jump to your defence, pointing to free education, a so called health care system, harmonious mingling of our so-called races and other sophistry. But the street knows. Everything is in decay, every measurable index of growth at every level is in decline. The wealth gap between those whom you, our political class, have enabled and the street is criminal.
The foundation, a withered middle class, can no longer hold. You, our politicians, have no doubt seen the indications—maybe even felt them personally. It is better that you act before the streets do.
As our symbolic prophets dressed in political attire, I give you for your own awakening a quote from late civil rights activist, James Baldwin: “God gave to Noah the rainbow sign, no more water; fire next time!”