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Recolonization by Invitation
Posted: Wednesday, April 5, 2006

By Michael De Gale

"History shows that it does not matter who is in power... those who have not learned to do for themselves and have to depend solely on others never obtain any more rights or privileges in the end than they did in the beginning." -- Dr. Carter G. Woodson

Despite the outward trappings of independence, it seems that once a people is subjected to the dictates of colonialism, it is virtually impossible to break free from the inferiority complex, which that administration imposes on its subjects. Granted that the crime situation is out of control and urgent action is necessary to regain some semblance of civility in the nation, but bringing Bobbies to bust some butt is backward and bad business. If anything, it reflects poorly and speaks to the shortsightedness of past and present administrations and their colossal failure to effectively plan for the problems that often plague modern nations. Broadly speaking, it sends a negative message to the nation and more specifically, to the men and women on the T&T police force. It rips the balls right off of the police commissioner and renders him effectively neutered and thoroughly emasculated. If after 43 years of independence, the best we can do is to invite Bobbies to tackle homegrown issues of law and order, then this decision is surely indicative of a prolonged shackling of the mind. It reeks of gross incompetence within the police service and shines a revealing light on the ineptitude of the country’s administration as a whole.

When T&T declared its independence from Britain on 31 August 1962, the indication was that we were going to take matters into our own hands and build our country as strong as we know how. The nation was energized by this declaration and jubilation spread throughout the land. Such a mannish maneuver rejected the popular notion that we were no more than, "hewers of wood and drawers of water". It initiated a feeling of empowerment and liberation in a people who for years, were trampled under the cruel and imperialistic boot of the Union Jack. Inviting them to come back is more than a question of law and order; it is a psychosis and is indicative of an inferiority complex. It underscores a history of vacuous leadership and historical unconsciousness.

It is not that one cannot learn from the experiences of others but the negative messages that this decision sends must be given due consideration. Independence was never a trial run; it was the real thing. It sent a clear message that we were willing to sacrifice and to plan effectively for our future, our growth and our long-term development. Evidently, we were mistaken as today, we have proven incapable of accomplishing these noble tasks for which people all over the world have fought and bled and died. We often express concern when our children emulate foreigners, but here we are imposing upon their impressionable minds, manifestations of our inferiority and confirmation of our prolonged incompetence. The vision for the future appears to be no clearer now than it was in August 1962.

If there were ever concerns about moral, racism or cultural differences within the police service, this new development can only exacerbate and add to these contentious issues. In addition to the legal implications, it also raises some fundamental but poignant questions involving race, culture, income, accommodation, authority etc. Much ado is made about Vision 2020, which increasingly appears to be predicated on more style than substance. The vision for a country must be more than the erection of tall buildings and world class stadiums. It must include an appreciation and respect for the people who live in the country. Any vision must ensure that people receive a high level of education, that there is a thriving culture and places where that culture can be placed on display, social programs for the less fortunate and a security force that serves and protects, not one that inspires fear and dread and is mired in corruption and controversy.

Since the maintenance of law and order is essential to the smooth functioning of any society, the prerequisites for entry into the police force can no longer be based on youth, strength and ignorance. Hence, the creation of a modern police academy is fundamental to any development plan and should have been in place years ago. Such an academy would have brought some degree of respectability and professionalism to the business of policing. It would have allowed officers to take pride in their vocation and the public would have responded with respect instead of dread. Police officers should have been trained in the techniques of modern crime fighting and detection in a facility that could have been a model for neighbouring countries. Fifty million dollars would have gone a long way in turning this vision into a reality for it is said that, "If you give a man a fish, you feed him for a day. If you teach him how to fish, he feeds himself for life". How much longer then, must we continue to pursue a duct tape approach to governance? In how many ways can we tell a people that they are incapable and incompetent, when it is the lack of effective leadership and a common vision that has created a social crisis and a crisis in law and order? In a country blessed with an abundance of human and natural resources, why are so many living on the fringes of society while a handful continue to horde the nation's wealth? The evidence suggests that our incapacity for long term planning and failure to create a common vision will follow us far into the foreseeable future. In that case, it may be best to surrender our sovereignty and reclaim our colonial status under the Union Jack, since we appear to be totally incapable of taking care of ourselves. We must also apologize to the queen for even entertaining the thought that we could be a sovereign nation and beg pardon for the inconvenience we may have caused the crown over the last 43 years. Perhaps she may be kind enough to allow us to drink the water with which she washed her feet, before accepting our invitation to be recolonized.

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