Wednesday 21st May, 2008

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The Afro-Trini plight

  • More Black people are involved in the majority of homicides
  • No government ever sought to find out why
  • Is it too late to save them?

“Eight killed in 46 hours.’’ “Killed while protecting dad.” “Family terrorised.” “Girl, 12, gang raped.”

These gory newspaper headlines continue to depict the extremely violent crime spree which has undeniably gripped T&T in its murderous clutches.

At the time of writing the number of persons murdered for the year so far stood at a record 183, and counting.

To tell the truth it was not my intention to return to this very depressing issue of violent crime because the more we think of it the more sickening it becomes.

And the sad thing is that the state is virtually powerless to offer the type of safety and security any government is duty bound to provide.

We just keep hearing and reading about more and more of these horrendous homicides with no end in sight.

Nobody is saying that this government—or any other government for that matter—can ever eradicate serious crimes such as murders.

But certainly it can use its resources to make life a bit more comfortable for the law-abiding citizens who are being picked out at will by these killers, hired or whatever.

This current administration is in the very fortunate position of having a tremendous amount of financial wealth on its table, more than any other administration has ever had.

But what do we get by way of this government making everyday life for its citizens reasonably comfortable?

All kinds of plans and projects which so far have failed to put a dent in the unbridled bloodletting that has seized this country with its terrible toll on human life, too often innocent victims.

For every life taken by the killers, I cannot say how many relatives are traumatised, sometimes permanently, but that figure surely must be considerable.

They are further pained by the state’s inability to protect especially innocent people killed in the course of going about their legitimate business at home or elsewhere.

One salient factor that we should not ignore in this orgy of killings is that the vast majority of the victims and assailants are Afro-Trinis.

I cannot say at this time the exact number but I am almost certain that the figure could be as high as 90 per cent.

If I am wrong, Mr Minister of National Security Martin Joseph, please advise the citizenry of the true figure.

The fact is that there must be some underlying reason or reasons why young Black Trinis are killing themselves at an alarming rate, very often for trivial and senseless reasons.

It is so bad that some people are grimly forecasting that very soon young Afro-Trini girls would find it difficult to find a mate in that ethnic grouping.

Have the authorities done any in-depth study as to why young Black men are solving their problems with the gun?

I am not speaking here about the obvious gang wars that are being fuelled by the illegal drug trade.

In that world, the gun is the only law in that operatives cannot report the theft of their ill-gotten stock in trade to the place for obvious reasons.

The only person I can readily recall as having done any meaningful study on this aspect of the crime is Prof Ramesh Deosaran.

Did the authorities seek his help in dealing with this dastardly phenomenon? I don’t know but knowing how our governments perform, I wouldn’t be surprised if the answer was in the negative.

And even if his study was used it couldn’t have cost on the scale of let’s say the millions of dollars being dished out to people like Prof Matroski, or however that man’s name is spelt.

The issue here is what is the state doing about getting to the root cause of black-on-black violence? Not that I am saying that killing of other people is acceptable. Not at all.

If you subtract the number of murders committed by Afro-Trinis we would see a drastic drop in homicides and perhaps we would not have this large scale problem that we now have.

That is a fact.

I know that the social scientists would point to the breakdown in family life as a major contributory factor in the runaway murder figure.

That too is true.

But has this government or any other for that matter, done anything to ascertain what is the cause of the deteriorating family life among Afro-Trinis?

If so what corrective action did they take?

Recently I was speaking with another columnist and the Chief Executive Officer of Power 102, Lennox Toussaint, and he said something which had me thinking long and hard.

Some time ago he and some other successful Afro-Trinis decided to go into Laventille and other depressed areas and give pep talks to young Blacks.

Mr Toussaint and his friends were motivated by the lack of proper role models which led young Black people to adopt negative values which were being expressed their anti-social behaviour.

Mr Toussaint couldn’t be more on the ball and when you look at what is happening today you must confess that their values are all in the wrong places.

Unfortunately the idea did not materialise.

Today I want to appeal to Mr Toussaint and others similarly concerned about the plight of young Black people, that it is not too late to put that plan into action.

Or, is it?

Next week: More reasons why T&T is a backward place

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