Ten thousand-gun salute

By Raffique Shah
August 22, 2022

Raffique ShahA few weeks ago, my cousin Susheela forwarded to me an interesting piece of Internet trivia that was anything but trivial. The author had given that generations in recorded history had lived through the most exciting period, based on facts cited, that people now in their 60s and 70s, having been born in the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s, had enjoyed some of the most dramatic developments man has ever experienced.

For example, these generations lived through eight decades, two centuries and two millennia. Ordinarily, someone can live to her 90s or even surpass one hundred, but barely see nine decades, maybe straddle two centuries, but most unlikely—not for the next 900 years anyway—two millennia. We—yes, I was born in 1946—saw the millennium that started way back in the year 1001, when men had travelled no more than a few hundred miles on sea in vessels that probably depended on slaves or prisoners rowing them, and later introduced sails that were powered by the wind and currents in the oceans to take them to strange, foreign lands. Columbus made his first foray westward across the Atlantic Ocean almost 500 years into that millennium.

Before the end of that second millennium, man had travelled to space in rockets and satellites, he had walked on the surface of the moon, virtually taken up resi­dence in space. And we have lived to see multi-billionaire Elon Musk work feverishly to set up a passenger service to outer space.

In our lifetime, we have listened to news and music broadcast via big, cumbersome ­tube-radios, watched as early television evolved from black and white, grainy images emanating from cabinet-sized sets to sleek-and-small, full-colour digital receptors that are multi-functional. In our time, we have witnessed near-miracles of modern medicine, from life-saving organ transplants to cosmetic surgery that can alter our faces and other features such that our mothers or wives won’t recognise us.

Empires rose and empires fell. We engaged in two world wars. At the beginning of hostilities on each occasion, in 1914 and 1939, we were assured that that was the war to end all wars. Only it turned out to be lies by leaders who lived by lying to the uninformed people who believed them, and we got instead wars without end—cold war, guerilla war, proxy wars, wars that are waged by unseen hands unleashing death and destruction via missiles and sophisticated guiding systems that enable the leaders of the civilised world to sip coffee and nibble on sweets as they witness their handiwork, the blinding flash, the searing heat, the deafening blast that reduce the target zone to rubble, shred bodies to bite-size bits—the targeted Mullah evaporating, quite literally, along with his wife or wives, children, pets, the whole shebang.

And I sing to myself what a wonderful world…

I imagine I ought to be grateful to the powers that be who allowed me this much time on Earth to witness the bloody paradise they have created, blood everywhere. Oh, how can I miss out on my own, my native land celebrating its diamond jubilee? Sixty years of independence from Britain. Look, infidel, look at what you and your brethren and “sistren” have moulded out of this bountiful land, a country rich in resources—oil, natural gas, the only asphalt lake in the world, miles and miles of sugar cane, the finest cocoa beans, excellent weather, creative people and so much more.

We have reduced it to a wasteland whose natural resources have almost been exhausted, our network of roads resemble the surface of the moon, and our pampered progeny, we having structured society such that their expectations are that the State will take care of them from cradle to grave, they have expectations that we must fulfil, now we scream bloody murder when they acquire weapons of destruction and set about demanding with menaces their tonnes of flesh.

The bulk of the younger gene­rations that we have inflicted (I can’t find a more appropriate word) on ourselves have wrecked the fatally-flawed education system we bequeathed them, and embraced trading in “scrap iron and old batteries” as a profession of choice, which, by fair or foul means, enriches many of them to the extent they look down with derision at their one-time companions in school who toiled over textbooks late into nights, and ended up in low-paying, often insecure jobs in the private and public sectors.

As we approach the “diamond anniversary” of this nation’s Independence, belatedly recognising that Britain wanted to get rid of us more than we wanted freedom from colonialism, whatever that process meant, let us not fool ourselves into believing we own and control anything, least of all our security.

Let’s be realistic. Allow the criminals, our real leaders, to fire a ten thousand-illegal-gun salute to mark the occasion. At least this way we face reality even if we don’t salvage pride.

5 thoughts on “Ten thousand-gun salute”

  1. Look on the bright side-The Party now start. Is fete forever more.

    I too was born in 1946. I remember well on Independence Day, standing duty on Frederick Street, as a member of A Company, T & T Cadet Corps. What hopes we had. In those days, students struggled to win the Jerningham Gold Medal, to pursue education /instruction in the U.K. We have come a long way.

  2. I was 10yrs old in 1962. what i remember the most, is at the time of Trinidad’ independence, the Nation as a whole owned nothing. With the exception of the Colonial administrative, the multi-nationals controlled every aspect of employment. The resources was never in the sway of the people. From the English to the present USA empire. Your Earth Day 1946, year of de-colonisation to the present, Illusion and Delusion created what we presently call progress. “The seven Spheres of living ”
    which includes, Social-Personal-Health-Education-Relationships-Employment and Spiritual Development was planted, never moulded, has now been overtaken by the high grass of Corruption. Trinidad have moved from being a non-allide Nation state, to the UNC boldly supporting USA’ foreign policy ILLs. Trinidad, being truly born in SIN as we know it, continues to waddle in the slime Authored in a different time, that must be read in the present. Division among all ethnic groups continues to be very challenging with no end in sight. There are many 60yr old Trinidad Men and Women who reflects the brokenness of Trinidad’ journey, as they go through the perils of Man made Diseases, while painfully waiting to go to the West. Nation State Trinidad continue to be a work in progress, progress as we know it, could be many, many life times.” When our Loving Nature is Contaminated by Selfishness, We start Loving things more than Persons. Especially the Most High”. Did i hear Trinidad calling?

  3. Independence was suppose to resonate with Sparrow’s “Indians and negroes unite, we have won the battle call human rights…..”. Instead it became a process of oppression. We are in the 21st century and people in Point Fortin and Penal burning tires for better road conditions. The excuse for the past year is that there is no bitchumen to fix roads. “In total Trinidad pitch has helped over 50 nations https://www.uncommoncaribbean.com/trinidad/uncommon-attraction-trinidads-incredible-pitch-lake-paving-the-worlds-streets-for-150-years/
    Trinidad pitch has paved the tarmac of Beijing airport, yet the blasted roads in Trinidad is worst than that of Barbados or Guyana….How long must this continue? You can’t say you independent when your roads look worst than those of colonial days.

  4. Mr Shah were you not involve in the black power movement of the 70’s . If so you should be in prison…

  5. I dreamt of TnT?..

    I dreamt of beautiful TnT, I dreamt alone,
    The stars that once lit the nighttime sky.
    The stars that twinkled to all our delight.
    Yes those once brilliant shimmering lights.

    The children laughter still ring in my ears,
    Their laughter I fondly recall.
    The neighbours visiting each other,
    The cherish conversations they had.

    The school children walking to and from school,
    A stranger they would say “good morning, good evening”,
    Respect for elders they openly displayed,
    The neighbours always look out for the children.

    Twas an innocent time to give birth to a nation,
    A time when everyone was roaring with energy.
    The Afros, the bellbottom pants, the hippie hair.
    The food, the culture all starting to bloom.

    Colonialism ended with a thud, at midnight
    Slowly the Union Jack was lowered.
    Then rose the red, white and black gracing the sky,
    The sound of “forged from the love of liberty…”

    An independent nation emerged from the shackles of colonialism
    A nation to build for all the children born within its borders.
    Today 60 years later, the bricks and mortar continue,
    Resiliency is in the navel cords of every Trini.

    We have lived through the black power movement,
    We have lived through the uprising of the early 90s
    We have survived the horrors of kidnapping,
    The death of so many dreams, suddenly reborn.

    But how do you celebrate when poverty is high?
    How do rejoice when the blood of youths flow…..
    Yes our times are strange and foreboding.
    Our future dark and for many hopeless.

    Today we bow in solemn prayer for the future,
    We dream of a better day a longer smile.
    Our tired soul can fine respite in the psalmist words,
    “Blessed is the nation, whose God is the Lord!!!”

    Say a prayer on the 60th…..

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