By Raffique Shah
January 07, 2007
First, the positive sides to Choc’late Allen’s foray into the public limelight as she sought to highlight the many problems that bedevil the nation. Choc’late herself embodies the biggest positive. Here’s a girl (I’m tempted to use “child”, but she is mature way past her age) who is brimming with self-confidence, very articulate (she puts many a politician, including would-be prime ministers, to shame), and very informed. She also disabuses our minds of the notion that most people her age are destined to the problems we face, not the solutions to them. And to top off her “positives”, she is not even a product of our education system, but home educated.
Clearly she is a prodigy of sorts. She exemplifies what we’d want to see in every child, every teen, and every adult. Of course full credit must go to her for having achieved all she has at such a tender age. But credit must also go to her father, entertainer Kurt Allen, and to her mother and whoever else guided her from childhood to attain the heights she has. Here, in the midst of a sea of irresponsible and delinquent parents, are people who not only educated their daughter at home, but taught her values that we long to see in persons way older than her. In fact, I should add that many of those who masquerade as the creme de la creme of society lack the “couth” and common decency that this child (there, I said it!) has displayed.
She also has immense courage. To dare to take the stand she did, sitting in a public place to register her disgust with the way society has betrayed her generation, takes more than guts. It’s one thing to protest or demonstrate with scores or thousands of people around you. It’s quite another to do it on your own.
Even more laudable is the fact that Choc’late did not do it for publicity. But that was bound to come as people’s consciences will have pricked them seeing a child doing what they, hard-back men and women, ought to have done long before she was born.
And she has handled the mas-in-the-media well. She is no braggadocio, lays no individual claim to what she has done and achieved. Indeed, she exudes humility. Which is what makes her “sweet”, as her grandmother might have said. Choc’late has also dispelled the racist notion that young Afros cannot achieve. Or that their only contribution is in the killing fields of crime. I should add she’s not the only young person I have seen, met, heard of, or read about, who has restored my faith in the future. They remain a minority, sadly so. But every long, arduous journey starts with but one step. And this little Allen is a rung on that ladder that will hopefully help us climb out of the pit into which the nation has sunk.
Now for the negatives: I need advise her that the issues she has sought to highlight by her public posture will not be easily resolved. Crime, for example, committed in the main by young people, continued unabated even as she fasted. There is out there a breed of animals-I make no apology for using such strong language-who are heartless, greedy, merciless . Need I continue?
And just beyond them are their parents and elders who are worse. Last week I referred to adults, among them the seemingly respectable in society, who fuel lawlessness by their boorish behaviour and criminal conspiracy in receiving stolen goods. This, Choc’late, was once a crime on our statute books. It no longer is well, it can’t be. Not with the large number of people who have stolen items in their possession, but also among lawmen who fail to lock up their backsides. When last have we heard of anyone being charged with “receiving”?
Still, Choc’late (I like that name, Kurt) must not be deterred when she sees evil overwhelming good. She, and the many young people like her who have the best interests of their country at heart, who are struggling to carve out a better world for future generations, must stay focussed.
How I wish I could point them to adults who would lend their experience to guide them. There are few, too few such individuals in the society. Those who are not busy grabbing every dollar they can, by legal or semi-legal means, are immersed in narcissism, in planning for how good, how sexy they would look on carnival days.
As for the politicians and charlatans who attempted to ride the child’s back to some media publicity, they should be ashamed. They are part of the problems she was highlighting, not the solutions. If they had any shame, which they don’t, they would have stayed far from this courageous child. If they had any interest in what she was doing, it was to gain personal or political mileage. But the young, be they Choc’lates or bandits, will continue to ignore them, and recognise them for the evil they represent.