The cries of our people

By Dr Selwyn R. Cudjoe
August 29, 2022

“The horner man crying; Somebody horn de horner man…”
—Anil Roberts on Keith Rowley

“I could take a horn if I get one. I ain’t sending nobody to kill nobody.”
—Dr Keith Rowley’s response to Roberts

Dr. Selwyn R. CudjoeThese are the sentiments of two of our leaders on the eve of the Diamond jubilee of our Independence. Serious people treated Roberts’ characterisation of Sharon Clark-Rowley, the prime minister’s wife, with the disdain that it deserved. There was no reason to drag her into the gutter, as there was no need to elevate such spurious nonsense to the level of serious national discourse. As we say—if you play with the dog, you get bitten by the fleas.

Many more important issues confront our people as we enter the next 60 years after our Independence. While fulfilling our material needs is important, we should be more concerned about the dwindling value we, as citizens, place upon our spiritual and cultural lives.

Many of the challenges that our nation faces can be discerned from the headlines and stories that appear in our newspapers on a daily basis. A few examples should suffice:

Guardian: “Horror in Palo Seco as girl, seven, strangled”. The story continued: “Horror struck the [Palo Seco] community yesterday morning as the visions of McKenzie’s [Hope Rechier] frail and lifeless body now haunt the minds of relatives and police who found her on a soiled mattress inside the 10×10 ft wooden shack that she and the suspect [her mother, Michelle Alexander] called home.

“Inside a dirty room, they found McKenzie lying in a foetal position with a reddish mark on her neck and her face swollen.” The suspect may be “battling mental problems”. (August 21.)

Express: “After finding newborn in a garbage bag at hospital, shaken job-seeker says: ‘It was moving, sounds were coming out of the bag like that of a child.’ BABY GIRL ABANDONED.”

Emanuel Pierre who found the abandoned child said, “The child was wrapped in a yellow blanket and there was a hat on her head.” He noted further, “We can’t judge nobody’s situation. Probably they feel that they can’t care for the child but they could have done it in a more humane way than that resting the child there in a bag.” (August 23.)

Last week the Express reported five people were shot dead in separate incidents along the East-West Corridor over two nights. The victims were Darryl Jessop, 30, Dennis Nero, 43, Brian Carter, 57, Avery Weekes, 27, and Delano, age unknown.

Weekes was liming on Observatory Street, when he was confronted by a masked man who shot him and left him to die. Jessop was confronted by an unknown man who shot him several times about his body. Delano, who was employed by the Port of Spain City Corporation, was also shot several times. He died on the spot.

Nero’s mother seemed resigned to her son’s death. Asked why someone would kill her son, she said, “When you don’t hear, you feel. And God knows best and God knows the reason. May God rest his soul.” (August 24.)

Her grief was palpable; her resignation absolute. God was her only rescuer and redeemer, but her grief emphasised the hopelessness she felt.

A similar grief seized Hope’s grandmother when she learned her granddaughter was strangled. She ran to the suspect’s house. She said: “I am calling my grandchild, and she is not answering me. I did not know what to do again.”

Hope loved getting her hair and nails done and spending time at the beach with her grandmother. Her grandmother bewailed her loss: “All I know is my princess gone. She will never come back.”

Express: “Mom of 8-year-old boy shot in Morvant attack pleads with God: LET MY SON LIVE… two men murdered; 11-year-old also shot.” The boy, it seems, was preparing for a football match. Speaking of the gunmen who carried out the attack, the boy’s mother said: “They are only breeding hate and they don’t care. I have lived here all my life and in our time growing up, it was nothing like this…

“Right now the youths are traumatised… No one is walking about the area as usual. Everybody is in their house.” (August 18.)

The nation has reached a point where nihilism is beginning to make inroads into people’s lives. They are traumatised and afraid. Eugene Rivers III, a friend of mine, speaking of the killing of 13 black people in Boston over the Fourth of July weekend, America’s Independence Day celebration, says Boston’s growing violence is “a statement about the increasing irrelevance of the black political leadership in Boston”.

He continues: “Over the long term, the violence is an expression of the nihilism and decay of a politically orphaned underclass of youths who have been largely ignored. Public health models of violence prevention are necessary but insufficient to address the spiritual and political sources of the violence.” (Boston Globe, July 22.)

Nihilism, a philosophy that suggests all values are baseless and life has little meaning, has a tendency to debase the meaning of life. We may not be at that point, but we ought to pay serious attention to where we wish to go, as a nation, over the next 60 years.

Confronted with such daily threats to our humanity, who “horning who” and who could take a horn, are pointless and out of timing. Instead, we should be more thoughtful of what we do and say about one another. Verbal violence is not the answer. Hopelessness and nihilism are making inroads into people’s lives, and that is not good for our country.

We ought to be extremely reflective of our words and actions on the anniversary of our republic.

4 thoughts on “The cries of our people”

  1. One of the things I believe that our country sorely needs is the advice and introduction of ‘qualified social scientists’. Meaning people who are honestly interested in solving the country’s problems and would not be persuaded or deterred by politics. The factors that create the climate for crime are many and varied and not simply magnified by who holds the reigns of power in this country. It is my belief that people with the qualifications of Dr. Cudjoe should be more sophisticated in how they view and approach the subject of crime and punishment. The criminal or criminal minded are emboldened when the avenues or risks to commit crime become less dangerous for them. Undeterred access to guns and ammunition is one of the means that encourage criminality. One does not have to be ‘learned’ to understand that the importation of these deadly weapons pose a danger to a civilized society, especially when these weapons are in the possession of those who seek to disrupt orderly life.

    Politicians who seek to demean and magnify ‘old talk’ about their fellowmen are no better than prostitutes selling their wares to anyone willing to buy. It is with good reason the opposition use people like Anil Roberts, Nakhid and Annisete to filter the political atmosphere with information suited for the toilet. It works with those of like mind.

    Social scientists can credibly look into the ’cause’ of crime, examine its origins of the qualifying factors that contribute towards the atmosphere it creates and diligently report its findings. We should not assume that all of our law enforcement
    personnel follow the law. We should not assume that all those who police our borders do so with integrity. We should not assume that all the goods coming into our country are for the good of our country. We should not assume that all of those who police our immigration system do so with good intent. It is the porous defects of those systems that give us the malcontents in our country.

    1. “Dr. Cudjoe should be more sophisticated in how they view and approach the subject of crime and punishment”-Kian
      As usual Kian ignored the topic at hand and attack the writer with such air of superiority. There is a mental cocolaburation (they think alike) (my word) with PNM supporters. The nation could be covered in blood but they act like nothing is wrong. They attack the Opposition as though they are causing all the problems in the nation. They are quiet functioning under COSA Nostra.

      The PNM do not have thinkers anymore all they have is a strong cocolaburation with propaganda, so much so for the untrained mind they repeat and repeat everything under stylus presumptious. A study in mind control will reveal a pattern of mental apathy when it comes to all current realities.

      If one were to look at all the factors in building a nation the current PNM regime cannot get high marks on anything. (1) Crime control (2) economy, (3) maintaining public property (everything is collapsing), (4) thiefing (5) wasting tax dollars. (6) unemployment. High marks on raising food prices, gasoline and all other necessary things needed for survival.
      Yet Kian and members of the PNM cocolaburation continue to sing for their supper…Not great is the PNM.

  2. The danger of the rise in murders it that it can be normalized. My friend living in Couva said his neighbour got shot and died. And a few days later another neighbour son was shot and died. I can’t imagine how hopeless he felt sitting in his friend family home and trying to make sense of the madness. Trying to bring a word of comfort to those whom he knew.

    The scary part about all of this is that the criminals are coming in with the most sophisticated weapons. They come in and in less than 30 seconds the job is done. Sometimes people pass it of as targeted killing saying “maybe he was involved in something”. It somehow lessens the impact on mind that it could happen to them.

    Trinidad average a staggering 38.57 murders per 100,000 The US with all the killings in Chicago rank very low at 5.15 per 100,000 deaths . This year with a few months to go and the rate is proving to be another bumper harvest for the grim reaper.

    A murderer is someone without a conscience or someone who killed so many and yet another means nothing. Joel Balcon for over a decade, raped, killed and struck terror in the hearts of young ladies in Central. Despite having a rap sheet of about 80 charges. He was protected by the police. Such beast are walking around protected and aiming for another target. 80% of the crime is committed by less than 2% many known by the police. God help this nation.

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