Mentoring T&T’s Youths

By Dr. Kwame Nantambu
April 19, 2011

Dr. Kwame NantambuWhile the People’s Partnership (PP) government’s National Mentoring Programme should be widely lauded, much more needs to be done/analyzed in order to confront and deal with the ubiquitous “criminal gang culture” in T&T.

The fact of the matter is that the proclivity to commit crime among this country’s “at risk” youths is values-oriented-related-driven.

Indeed, no where in this national conversation is anyone admitting that the education system has failed and is failing these “at risks” youths. These young people just didn’t appear from out of nowhere. They are the products, albeit failed products, of T&T’s education system.

The stark reality is that upon completion of their schooling, these young people cannot even write a grammatically correct sentence, far less, a paragraph. They also lack the basic wherewithal to lead a descent, legal life; put another way, they lack the 3Rs— Reading, ‘Riting and ‘Rithmetic.

In sum, they are unemployable in society. In addition, they lack the vital skills of deduction in order to make sound, informed decisions about life.

Ergo, they become very vulnerable and unable to handle/deal with the serious/deadly /self-destructive ramifications of anti-social behaviour.

And when one adds the elimination of corporal punishment in the nation’s public schools, these “at risk” youths have now automatically become uncontrollable, loose cannons in society. In the process, they have lost all respect for adult authority.

The school is no longer seen as the citadel for learning, acquisition of knowledge and life skills; it has become the playground for the venting of ant-social behaviour.

Another element that must be added is the overt Americanization of all aspects of life in T&T 24-7-365. This is the crucial causal factor /variable that everyone has totally missed, period.

And the sad tragedy is that these failed educated youths have now become ready clients of this powerful, subliminal American magnetic force.

Ergo, they automatically gravitate to the African-American ghetto way of life. They adopt /emulate the African-American ghetto slang language; their life is now subsumed in bling-bling and other external trappings; they also adopt/emulate the African-American ghetto mannerisms in walking. Against this extreme negative/self-destructive background, a life of crime, by definition, seems like an honourable alternative for these youths or “youth men.”
But it does not stop there. These “at risk” youths are also glued to American BET and BET J television programming of violent gangster-oriented movies, ghetto gang behaviour, rap music with its attractive anti-social lyrics 24-7-365. As such, Tupac Shakur becomes their revered role model.

Hence, it need occasion no great surprise that the latest intoxication of T&T’s youths is the irresistible magnetic force of the Jamaican ghetto-driven inter-school gang violence between the “Giza” and “Gaza” groups.

Furthermore, because of their failed education status, these youths cannot have Malcolm X as their revered role model because Malcolm X not only knew the meaning of every word in Webster’s Dictionary but he was also able to publicly debate academics with a Ph. D degrees in the United States and students at Oxford University in Britain. The first African-American President of the United States cannot also be their revered role model because he has a law degree from the ivy league Harvard University.

As a result of their failed educated status, these “at risk” youths are stuck in the cement of negativity and self-destructive/anti-social behaviour which feeds and festers upon itself to the nth degree.

And this overt, societal negativity comes to the fore when these youths begin to internalize the “50 cent philosophy” to the dangerous extent that they are determined, by any and all means necessary, to “get rich quick or die trying.” This is scary but it is the reality among the youths in T&T today.

In this context, these “at risk” youths also internalize the mind-set of the African-American ghetto criminals/gangsters in terms of their dress whereby they wear their pants down to their knees with their underwear on public display. “Madness, total madness.”
Indeed, the scary aspect of the above reality is that these youths or “youth men” regard this African-American ghetto life style as “cool”, “hip” and “together”. “Madness, total madness.”

Their comfort zone now becomes gang membership, period. As a result of the total breakdown in the traditional family structure in T&T, their house is no longer a home and their fellow gang members are their de jure external family kit and kin.

And no one can or even dare convince them of any other lifestyle.

In this sad regard, Ella Andall’s apocalyptic admonition that “there is a missing generation out there” needs to be updated to read: “there is a lost generation out there”. And we know who they are.

The fact of the matter is that any National Mentoring Programme must begin in the home. The political, public policy-makers must realize and be cognizant of the fact that school violence, disrespect for adult authority, drug use, disruption of classes, etc., begin at home; they only end up in the school. The family home is the sole, root cause, period. This must be made perfectly clear.

Ergo, for any National Mentoring Programme to be effective/successful, it must deal with the endemic cause of the problem and not the results/effects of the problem.

It is this writer’s humble opinion that it is this causal policy approach that is the missing link in the PP’s government programme to deal with the “criminal gang culture” among youths in T&T.

By way of elucidation, the deceased African- American comedian Richard Pryor once remarked: “If you see an ugly child in the street, go home and look at the parents.

Translation: If a young person comes to school and curses the adult teacher, disrespects the authority of the adult teacher, disrupts classes, uses and distributes drugs, engages in violent behaviour, etc., then, the solution to this problem is to investigate the home environment of that student. This is not rocket science. Charity is not the only life factor that begins at home— all the above-mentioned also do among youths in T&T today. The home is the root cause, period, not the school.

It must be clearly understood that the crime-oriented lifestyle/values of the nation’s youths is learned behaviour— behaviour that is learned at home and in the community (cause), not at school (results/effects).

Indeed, if the PP government wants to realize an effective/successful National Mentoring Programme, then, this writer strongly recommends that the American BET and BET J channels be immediately pulled/expunged from T&T’s television line-up, period. These are the root causes of the problem of “criminal gang culture” among T&T’s youths.

In addition, the education system should be restructured so as to graduate employable products of society, as in students.

The salient fact of the matter is that the “dependency syndrome” should no longer be a variable in public policy formulation. In addition, young people must be imbued with life’s reality that “to earn tomorrow, you got to learn today.” They must be taught that there are no short-cuts or free meals in life, especially in the era of today’s economic meltdowns.

In the final analysis, the rampant gang-related crime activities among T&T’s youths underscore the stark reality that the short-sighted policies of previous governments have all but assured that “the chickens have come home to roost.”

Now is the time for a real, genuine, holistic policy approach to this vexing but not intractable societal problem. Now is the opportune time to deal with the endemic, root cause at home rather than with the results/effects at school. Any National Mentoring Programme must be home-community-based, period.

Shem Hotep (“I go in peace”).

Dr. Kwame Nantambu is a part-time lecturer at Cipriani College of Labour and Co-operative Studies.

6 Responses to “Mentoring T&T’s Youths”


  • What is need Kwame is a mentoring program for parents. Parents need to be mentored. Too many times children ran astray because you got ONE bad parent on the block whose children become gang leaders.

  • Yesterday was in Prince George’s County MD. (The Prof. Should be familiar with… since he worked at a prison not to far from there.) It’s the progressive, affluent, concentration of Blacks possibly in the USA (Man yuh should see dem MANSIONS dem people live in and only Benzs and BMW..
    Question Prof… How does one tell that ‘Ghetto Cultured Youths’?
    Prof, that’s just the way things roll in 2011… It’s the way the very well-to-do KIDS of BOWIE MD. dress, talk, etc..
    Point is Prof. you cannot judge a book by it’s cover..
    Some of these Black youths are the most fascinating/Intelligent minds one can meet.. Just look in ‘Black Enterprise’ mag. No-one could of seen their marketing skills just 30 years ago..
    T&T needs to be aware… The Black (Afrikan) Entrepreneur is the one to save the Afrikan youth of T&T.. Not the Dr. and the Prof.. for they have failed them miserable for too long.. by leading them into a life of dependency of wages..

    http://www.blackenterprise.com/2011/04/19/book-review-chasing-youth-culture-and-getting-it-right/

  • Hysteria is a poor substitute for analysis.

    In addition, Mr. Nantambu, as out of his depth as a one-legged kick boxer, begins listing the education system as being causal in creating gang culture, but mid-way in his diatribe fingers the home as being causal and that what occurs in the school as consequences.

    Well, human life, and for his information that also included Black people, involves more than home and school. It includes oppoirtunities for employment, for housing, for culture, and for community. Which of these is cornerstone in a culture in which capital trumps morality? In which money talks and morality walkss? In which criminal gains in creating multi-millionaires also advance politics and political parties into government?

    This issue of crime and youth gangs is too serious, and more vast than empires to be addressed by someone whose positioning on a soapbox does not qualify him to be an authority on such an issue.

    Where, for example, does he show the effects on unemployment and of under-employment among these youth and their parents? Such analyses require sound judgement and factual evidence and as such require actual work by an author who considers his credibility as being paramount in his public persona.

    Morality in public affairs and persona!

    What are the solutions proposed either to the situations in schools and in homes?

    For example, what does a culture of alcohol consumption raised by those wwho carry status in the society to the status of political diplomacy in T&T have on new-born infants and on their lives subsequently? And through factual studies done on Fetal Alchohol Spectrum Disorder: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fetal_alcohol_spectrum_disorder

    In his drive-by repetition of high-decibel accusations and half-baked claims is there any sense of solutions and hope?

    In scatter-shot fashion, he blames the gang culture on African-American culture. In North America, the source of gang violence and criminality, including the international slave sex trade does not come from Black communities, but from biker-gangs many of which include in their hierarchy police officers and high-ranking “citizens”.

    Can such cultures be also blamed for the plight and poverty and desperation affecting Black dalit culture in India that forced the creating of movies like Bandit Queeen?

    In adition, African American culture, unlike that of any other culture in this hemisphere, has given the world R&B, Negro Spirituals, Soul Music and the like. Which other culture has given the world Reggae?

    The fact that a “50 Cent”, a Tupac Shakur, and an Eminem can sell their criminal culture while original “Rappers” like the Last Poets, and Public Enemy are blanked by the music moguls, all non-Black, who profit from mysogynistic Rap and criminal Gangsta Rap does not feature in his analysis, consciousnesss nor knowledge.

    Yet, these, and in addition the roles played by designer clothing giants promoting Hip Hop Fashion like Hilfiger advancing “artistes” in gangsta rap and thereby affect youth all over the world is beyond this man’s ken.

    Nantambu is like a vaps firefighter carrying buckets of gasoline to douse combustible materials because, being a liquid like water, gasoline should be a useable substitute.

    All this fellow does is give vast comfort to those detractors who exult over the crises affecting lack communities and culture and youth.

    The only thing he said that has some merit is the role being played by BET in advancing criminal and “pimp” (my quote) culture and for that reason should be banned.

    However, when did BET become this way? Before, or after it was bought out by Viacom from its Black owners and taken into the arms of white billionaires? And why were BET hosts like Tavis Smiley, and other anti-pimp staff not have contracts renewed? Staff in BET who spoke truth to power?

    Nantambu deserves an A-grade for backwardness and an A-plus for bringing comfort and peace of mind to those who have publicly and otherwise advanced the idea of eugenics and of creeping genocide against Black peoples.

    I agree on the implicit possibility that he demands of more Black men that they care for their families. He should also, as part of this demand try to enlighten readers as to why so many Black men, as compared to other men fill up prisons.

    For example, in New York, more Black men are imporisoned for grams of marijuaana as compared with white men caught with heroin. Is ease of being accused and convicted of criminality a manifestation of vulnerability, financial and otherwise?

    On the issue of education and employability, why, too, is a white man with a criminal record and no high-school diploma more employable than a Black youth without a criminal record and an engineering degree in Canada?

    If Nantanbu wants to be more than a nine-days wonder and be in fact, useful and thereby also credible, why doesn’t he consider an article on why Black women in T&T complain about their tubes being tied against their wishes.

    Surely, such an article might be useful, but is it within the ambit of his indignant concerns?

    • The people of the Eastern corridor are commuting in fear of having their belongings taken away from them.Maxi and taxi drivers are being targeted randomly by these youth bandits ages 19-22. I speak from experience after being a victim myself today of this heinous crime,witnessing a maxi driver and his passengers including myself being robbed of money,phones,jewelry and even spectacles this is unacceptable and there needs to be an increased police presence on the Eastern Main Road because i and the multitude of other victims will not i assure you be the last. Please Commisioner Gibbs please do something about these petty thieves in our country.

  • i understand and agree with the professor.our african men grow up beleiving that their mothers were born with the [relaxed] hair they have on their heads. that is deception #1. african people now hate how they look as they were created.
    *straighten your hair or shave it off
    *shave off all that kinky hair on your chest ,arms and legs.we now hear that men find that they are to hairy.
    *advertisment of the product “the instyler”states that frizzy hair [thats us,our hair does not ly down]is not attractive and it`s unruly
    *our women now fulley brainwashed do not seem to be aware of the distructiion that they are causing the african people. *ther are stores devoted only to selling hair to african women
    *we are [if not the only ,the vast majority of] people with fire red, and royal blue hair belonging to other people on our heads
    * we are confusing and deceiving our children

  • “Indeed, if the PP government wants to realize an effective/successful National Mentoring Programme, then, this writer strongly recommends that the American BET and BET J channels be immediately pulled/expunged from T&T’s television line-up, period.”

    This is exactly what happened in Grenada. The community and authorities realised that this channel had no substance and complaints abounded. The channel was seen as contributing to social delinquency among the nation’s youths, because these youths found themselves identifying with a culture that is suppossedly black, and coming from “America,” made it more attractive. The realization that BET was socially destructive and “non educating” was swift and the channel was summarily disposed of. No one even remembers BET.

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