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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

These 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 10x10 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.

Prof Cudjoe's e-mail address is He can be reached @ProfessorCudjoe

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The Slave Master of Trinidad by Dr. Selwyn R. Cudjoe
The Slave Master of Trinidad by Dr. Selwyn R. Cudjoe