There is a discernible season, which commences on Independence Day on 31 August and ends when the annual National Awards Ceremony takes place on the evening of Republic Day on 24 September, which falls next Sunday.
That period may be categorised as a season because it characterized by certain events taking place annually: decorative bunting in our national colours strung on buildings, official messages of reflection on being a nation, attempted inspiration, a military parade, toasts at protective service locations, pan music gigs and an official fireworks display.
I call it reflection season.
There was nothing inspiring about the messages delivered on the 61st anniversary of our Independence. The officials indulged in deflection, victim-blaming, petulance in the face of criticism, and delusional balancing of what we have “achieved”.
These messages, unsurprisingly, had little positive influence in lifting the gloom pervading the nation about our vulnerability to violent crime at any time and any place of the criminals’ choosing. To make matters worse, “Crime Down Christopher” poured salt into the gaping wound.
I refer of course to the now notorious remarks of Commissioner of Police Erla Harewood Christopher, who claimed on Independence morning at the gathering at the Police Administration Building that the Police Service “has been making substantial progress in its crime-fighting initiatives”.
We were the recipients of a mamaguy repeatedly performed for two decades. The abysmal crime detection rate and the impunity the criminals enjoy cannot be deflected.
The abundance of pan music during the season of reflection provided brief suspensions of the pervasive fear of violent crime. There is a well-established relationship between pan music and the season. The relationship has grown with the designation of August as pan month.
The month of August has become a full prequel to the reflection season and gives the season a feel-good factor.
Before the pan month designation, there was pan music in celebration of Independence Day.
Subject to correction by pan historians, Starlift, now Proman Starlift, led the way with an Independence Day panyard brunch—which I am informed began in 2000 when Starlift were still at their Western Main Road location close to Roxy cinema. There are now other gigs on Independence Day.
Significant tribute must also be paid to Cleveland Garcia now, deceased, and his family for the success of the Pan on the Avenue event, which he firmly and perceptively linked to our Independence/Republic Day period.
I fear for this joyful event going forward. Perhaps the demise of the Laventille Pan Parade at the beginning of pan month will serve as a wake-up call to assist in carrying forward the Garcia legacy.
Shell’s recent support of the expansion of Invaders’ panyard is noteworthy.
Pan month is a designation that has substance as a result of the creative action of our cultural sector. By grim contrast, the declaration of crime as a public health emergency contains little or no substance because of no action to give the declaration substance.
Sadly, our politicians speechify and exploit the output of the steelband movement, but have no coherent policy for the further elevation of pan.
We must beware of government mamaguy support for pan while attempting to use it as a sedative for our fear, anxiety and pain.
Hopefully, President Christine Kangaloo’s clearly expressed support for panyard development will soon translate into invitations to youth bands to perform at fortnightly Bandstand concerts and so avoid those concerts being merely other occasions of subsidised fete at which established bands perform.
Meanwhile, spokesmen for the business community speak of crime putting business under pressure.
A sharper degree of reflection might lead to the realization that the business community, like many other elites, has put the pressure on itself by readily tolerating poor governance, contact state enterprise pickings, uneven foreign exchange distribution, questionable public procurement practices and tribally-based electoral contests, while the drug and gun trade flourishes.
The consequences of such tolerance have inexorably led to the breakdown of good order that now endangers all citizens.
The attainment of socio-economic justice is plainly espoused in the Preamble to the Constitution. Where are the reflections on the better attainment of it for those communities to whose unbearable pain there has been cruel indifference and expressions of prejudice?