Louis Lee Sing’s Compulsory National Service

By A. Hotep Audio

The discussion on Compulsory National Service is taking place on the backdrop where people in this society do not like facing and openly addressing racism, colorism, gender biases and classism, amongst several of the other ills mentioned, that are largely as a result of slavery and our colonial experiences.

If you tell the same people who talked about Compulsory National Service, “Let us deal with African history in the mainstream”, they will kick and scream, while they want to play they have the solution on what to do with all of our children.

I am saying, many of the people who have done their own homework and dealt with these issues with their own children, their children are not facing the courts and the jails as delinquents. The rest of people out there who turned their noses on programs like these over the years do not want to deal with history and give their children a better sense of self and direction. They want to corral the youths now to support party politics.

They are the problem. They are the ones who have not provided anything for the children out there. They should not come with their bogus, dimwitted plans now and try to impose them on all of us.

Hotep's Related Radio Comment

10 thoughts on “Louis Lee Sing’s Compulsory National Service”

  1. Do you think the government wants to institute the Compulsory National Service?

  2. Louis Lee Sing is running the campaign for Compulsory National Service on his radio station, i95.5 FM. I feel that he is being a bit disingenuous in his campaign though. He wants to target the African youths whom he believes are responsible for most of the violent crimes and are involved in gangs. However, he dare not suggest Compulsory National Service just for Africans least he gets tagged with racism, so he speaks of Compulsory National Service for all youths.

    He knows quite well that White people, other light-skinned ones, most Indians and Africans who feel they are middle to upper class (including children of Ministers), will not want their children involved in Compulsory National Service, which involves mixing with poor African youths. The government dare not impose such a plan on Whites.

    The debate is a distraction from other issues.

    If such a plan was implemented it would be about brainwashing African youths into being strictly loyal to the PNM. Anyhow, it’s a stupid idea that will not be implemented on a compulsory basis.

  3. This is a great debate that has opened up. When I heard compulsory national service I thought it was a step in the right direction, then, I heard Sat talking about it not being a problem among his people and I said he is right. Now you Hotep raise the issue of class more than anything else. Yet whenever I journey home or as Sparrow sang years ago, ‘choose to peruse the daily news, all I read about is robbery, murders, kidnapping more laws and wars’ being committed, mind you by my African youth on another African man. So yes we have a problem and i understand your assault on Lee Sing plan, yet something must be done for those same African youths in Morvant and Laventille who prefer to work a “ten days” instead of seeking meaningful work.
    I know many would say it is the legacy of the PNM, but guess what it is still in our face everyday and increasing rapidly, so what do we do? Teach them African History and self awareness, would that work? I doubt it how are we going to get them to sit down and digest it? I say Hotep that we could start with something like what Lee Sing is proposing not for the whole nation but for the troubled areas, including the one or two Indian enclaves that maybe a hotbed for crime.
    Let’s have an affirmative action based on geography in order to create role models for these communities. I am not advocating unequivocal support for the Lee Sing plan but a start, something to make a difference. And guess what if it makes them or us all PNM then so be it, after all the situation is deteriorating on their watch. We need to arrest it now.

  4. Most of the crime in the country today IS the legacy of PNM. I will add that other political parties have not offered a solution or an alternative plan to the current European/American neocolonial policies.

    It seems that you really do not grasp the real value in people getting a good understanding of African History with the best of our values therein. And what makes you feel that people have to sit down or stand still to learn? I am certainly not advocating forcing people to learn or be part of anything, since people cannot grasp a good sense of self by force. They can improve the education system for a long-term solution. We do have media that could be used to allow for more of our diverse cultural expressions to be shared and debated so people could realize alternative ways to develop and address problems of low self-esteem and powerlessness. African history in its widest dynamics should be part of it all.

    The PNM hierarchy has always resisted ongoing radio and television programs of an African historical/cultural nature. The only semblance of African culture the PNM hierarchy toy with is the Best Village competition. Ken Valley’s remarks about wearing African clothes were quite telling. (See: In The Valley Of The Mooks by Linda E. Edwards)

    Any plan by the government that particularly targets Africans or certain regions in Trinidad where Africans concentrate, specifically for special forced programming, is not affirmative action. Forced programming for Africans in certain communities is racism and deliberately abusive.

    I am not concerned about ‘IF’ it makes all people PNM. I am saying that any plan like forced programming by this government will be deliberately designed to brainwash people into being loyal to their political party and ideologies which have consistently been against the interest of Black Africans in general.

    Of course, it will not work on all.

  5. Hotep, there is a feeling among many, and given certain statements that Sat Maharaj made, that crime is mostly committed by African people and out of certain communities heavily populated by Africans. Do you believe that Compulsory National Service could work in these communities without affecting other people who are not part of the ‘crime wave’?

  6. We should not be looking to Sat Maharaj for the truth on these matters. He has a history of painting a distorted picture of Indians and Africans in Trinidad. Boysie Singh, Teddy Mice, Niam Naya, the Poolool Brothers, Dole Chadee, Mantoor Ramdhanie, Rama, and so many other infamous gang leaders in Trinidad and Tobago were Indians.

    Reports on crime in Trinidad and Tobago conveniently omit much about the financiers of the drug trade and those non-Blacks who launder huge sums of drug money. The annual drug report speaks of the Syrian, Indian and Chinese drug cartels. They never reported that there is an African drug cartel in Trinidad and Tobago. I doubt anyone believes that the 1,750 kilos of narcotics, weapons and an undisclosed amount of ammunition valued at close to $800 million dollars that was seized down the islands belonged to Africans from the east-west corridor.

    Governments that steal public funds and abuse their powers are part of the criminal element. A government that stifles community programs because the people who spearhead them do not belong to their political party or the upper class in society is also part of the reason for crime. All the people who get involved in crime have to take direct blame for not seeking out alternatives like what we offer in some communities.

    If the government ever decided to institute Compulsory National Service in predominantly African communities (that they believe are the hotbed of crime), then they are also affecting youths in those communities who have chosen not to be part of criminal activities. They are saying, in effect, that all who do not want to be part of that compulsory program should leave those communities. That idea just will not work. The government cannot compel one set of people because of their race or the community they reside in to attend certain programs.

  7. What will they think of next?

    Compulsory national service for youth 18-25, what utter nonsense! Can someone please explain what national service these youths will have to do? I say, compulsory national service for every citizen because most T&T nationals have never given one thing back to our country. Why not compulsory national service for local officials because what they are offering now in the realm of politics and policy is most certainly of no service to nationals.

    It could be because I am a criminal justice specialist/social psychologist that I have been somewhat desensitized to crime as well as those if-it-bleeds-it-leads newspaper headlines. I am also a journalist so I understand the power of a sensational headline and what we in the academe call the routinzation of caricature where worst cases are framed as typical cases.

    There seems to be considerable confusion on crime, crime rates, crime patterns, and crime statistics in T&T. Our country, does not have a history of serious academic research so I am pretty certain government statistics lack internal validity and reliability.

    Violent crime is on the rise in T&T particularly drug related homicide. But, there are eight crime classifications, homicide is only one, and drug related homicide is a major subtype.

    As criminologists when we examine drug related homicide we use a conceptual framework comprised of three different models:

    1. Psychopharmacological (homicide related to the effects of drug intake)

    2. Economic compulsion (homicide related to crime committed by drug addicts)

    3. Systemic (homicide related to trade in an illicit market)

    Systemic violence is what is happening in concentrated areas of poverty in T&T. This kind of violence comes from doing business in an illicit market where monetary stakes are high and economic players in this informal and illegitimate economy use cowboy justice to settle disputes. This kind of violence

    Gang warfare, inter and intra gang warfare, territorial disputes between rival dealers, turf war, drug related debts, punishment of a worker by a dealer, missing kilos, assaults and homicides to enforce the code of the streets, robberies of drug dealers, and the execution of informers; those are all systemic crimes. It is a volatile illicit environment where entrepreneurs know that their success and survival depends on carry a firearm and using it.

    In T&T, social disorganization + urban poverty + the political economy = macro social forces conducive to high crime rates.

    So can someone please explain how compulsory national service for youth 18-25 can stop crime?

    To stop crime, we must address these:

    1. unrelenting pressure of economic need
    2. widespread material devastation
    3. withering wage/labor economy
    4. outright deproliteriatization
    5. failure of public sector institutions
    6. violent racial apathy
    7. acute class prejudice
    8. territorial stigmatization
    9. truncated life chances and opportunity
    10. an the education level of local authories

  8. Oops, one other thing, for the love of self, I just cannot understand why the word “African” intimidates so many African Trinbagonians? And why, in the Year 2006, many Trinbagonians “proudly” refer to themselves as a “negro”? Just the thought of someone calling me a “negro” is repulsive and insultive so imagine me calling me a “negro”?

    Hotep, is on to something with teaching at-risk kids about their African heritage. There is an alternative to dentention/diversion programme for at-risk teenage boys in the US juvenile system, I cannot remember the state where it first started, but it was started by a former Black Panther and his wife who left the US in the 60s and are now living in Africa.

    The teenage boys, African-American, first and second time juvenile offenders, instead of sending them to prison, they are sent to Africa and spend maybe 3-4 weeks in the rehabilitative environment this former Black Panther has created.

    While there it becomes a cross cultural learning experience when they interact with cohorts of the same age, at first it was culture shock for these black American teens, moving from the devastation of ghetto life/ concrete jungle to the great outdoors with no indoor plumbing but it truly became a life changing experience.

    Every life has a story and we can learn so much from each other. The African boys and the African American boys realised that they were more bounded by their commonalities than divided by their difference.

    While there they were taught social survival skills, they learned African history, African American history, the heard of black panther political struggles (Geronimo Pratt now married to Kathleen and Eldrige Cleaver’s daughter came to visit, made a huge donation, and spent time mentoring the boys), these teens, gang members and drug dealers.

    They learned so much about struggle, about life, and they also realised that as young black men there was a powerful legacy of African manhood on which they could lean. Some thing happend that was so moving, a few of the African American boys were so overwhelmed they started crying.

    Those tears were for the childhood they lost, the fathers they never knew, their mothers who were either or drugs or sex workers, those tears were for the fact that they wanted to do better but just didnt to how. Crime may be a seduction for some youth, but the majority of youth in crime really wish they had a job, a nice house, nice car, the family life they never had…

    So sometimes we must look for alternatives to incarceration and instead of St. Michael’s home and CRY foundation, we need to come up with new ways of thinking, and I do believe if some of these at-risk youths were exposed to the legacy of great and powerful black men who walked before them, some of them may do 360 like Brother Malcolm X did when he embraced religion behind bars.

    There is something called intergenerational crime and that is what’s happening in areas of concentrated poverty in T&T where for many of these young men crime becomes an inheritance.

    I think about 12 of them made the trip to Africa, and I think only 1 recidivated (to revert back to a life of crime). And that is a success story for African history, crime, and at-risk youth.

  9. According to John Hendrick Clarke, “African history is the missing pages of world history.” For the most part people remain ignorant of the African contributions to civilization as we know it. Four hundred years of slavery, colonization and deliberate attempts by respected British historians such as Arnold Toinbee have convinced people that, “Africans are the only people who have never contributed to civilization”. Until such time that African history finds a permanent place on the school carriculum and people are willing to indulge in opened and honest discussions, the contempt for Africans will continue.

    Despite our independence, our minds are tightly wrapped around Eurocentric values. This is evident throughout the society. Education that highlights European achievements and deliberately disregard that of the African is dangerous and results in selfdeprication. Morgan Job is the quintessential examplen of what it means to be educated away from yourself. . I believe that if people become more aware of Africa’s role in history only then can the mental blocks that give rise to racism and the violence that plagues the society be resolved. But Europeans have done a great job over the years of discrediting Africans and it will take a long time to erase the effect of Africa’s negative image even among Africans themselves.

  10. Wasn’t there a national service policy during the NAR regime, looking for some info.

Comments are closed.