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I BELIEVE I KNOW WHY? by Frank Sears

posted 20 Jan 2014, 17:21 by Gerry Kangalee   [ updated 20 Jan 2014, 17:36 ]
I met Rawle Palmerston Aimey the other day. Okay, okay, that’s not entirely true. I saw Rawle Aimey walking ahead of my car while I was in traffic and I knew he was going in the same direction as I was, so I hailed him out and suggested he get into the car, which he did. 
Rawle Palmerston Aimey is the son of a primary school
headmaster of Barbadian stock, who last taught at the St. Paul’s Anglican School in San Fernando up to 1967. Rawle first played football for Presentation College, San Fernando, for two consecutive years (1959 – 1960), then, on to Juniors Football Club, which was at that time the glamour team of the south-land.

He went to the Mona Campus of the University of the West Indies, Jamaica, to do History (General) and switched in his second term to do Spanish in 1964. He captured the Mona Calypso crown that year. On returning to Trinidad he represented T&T at football, first as one of the back-four defenders and eventually in the mid-field from 1968 to 1971. During this period the games against Guatemala and Haiti in CONCACAF qualifying matches stood out. Then came 1970: the year of the Black Power insurrection against the PNM regime.

Rawle Aimey was associated with Winston Suite, Errol Balfour, John Poon and others in the UMROBI (Universal Movement for the Reconstruction of Black Identity) which was formed in jail by those arrested for their involvement in the Black Power uprising. UMROBI soon evolved into URO (Union of Revolutionary Organisations). URO at this time had at least twenty one organisations within its fold including Tapia. In the latter part of 1971 URO changed its name into the United Revolutionary Organisation.

As a teacher he recognized that the profession was under attack by the government because many teachers were active in the uprising and as such, he enrolled at the University of the West Indies, St. Augustine campus, to do a social science degree specializing in Economics from 1971 – 1975. This pursuit abruptly ended his national football career and he was not on the team for the infamous Haiti match in 1973.

Rawle Aimey started his career as a teacher at St. Benedict’s College, in La Romaine for three years (January 1961 – September 1963) when Dom. Basil Matthews was the Principal. He transferred to San Fernando Modern Secondary and taught there for ten years. He then progressed as the first Vice-Principal of the Princes Town Senior Comprehensive from 1977 to 1981. Three more schools were touched by Rawle Aimey before his teaching career came to an end. They were Pleasantville Senior Comprehensive (1991 – 1994) ending his stint there as the Principal and continuing in this position at both the Vessigny Government (1994 – 1998) and finally at the Siparia Junior Secondary (1998 – 2001).

But Rawle was much more than a teacher by profession. He immersed himself in various aspects of our local culture. He was a judge for the National Parang Association of Trinidad and Tobago from the 1975-76 parang season until 2010; and when time allowed, he would do lectures with deceased Everton Smith about the calypso art-form to interested calypsonians. A little known fact is that he wrote poetry and was involved with the southern-based, now defunct Writers Association,.

A family man with a wife, who retired as Vice-Principal from Presentation College, San Fernando, and three children Rawle Aimey epitomized what is now known as the student athlete; a bi-lingual, calypso and parang aficionado; a left-leaning political activist, whose fulcrum was about imparting knowledge to students who can carry our society forward.

I had ulterior motives of course, and I proceeded thus: I said to him that it was just a few days ago my mind was rummaging about as to the best eleven footballers ever produced in T&T and I came up with seven who I thought were undisputed and he promptly asked me for my verbal list. I said, Dwight Yorke, Russell Latapy, Leroy De Leon, (Aimey interspersed – I would have put him first) Shaka Hislop, Everard Cummings, Delbert Charleau, Ronnie Gray. 

After the last name I sort of hesitated to see his reaction and continued that the other four I am not so convinced about them, but maybe, Leonson Lewis, Tyrone De Labistide could be on the list. Rawle Aimey immediately mentioned Warren Archibald and anecdoted that Pele said if “Archie’ was born in Brasil he would have been on the national team. He suggested a few other names such as ‘Son’ Baptiste and Squeaky Hinds and I with my impetuous personality changed the course of the conversation simply because we had reached his destination and the car was in ‘park’ mode. 

I said to Rawle Aimey, a person I consider the arch-typical product of Trinidad/San Fernando /college and university graduate – bilingual, national footballer man of culture produced in the 20th century why have standards fallen across the board in any and all disciplines during our lifetime. And virtually in the same breath I elaborated on what I meant. Whether in the home, factory, office, school, sports, culture, politics, (religion), tout ensemble, the level of discourse; of creativity; of building a consensus is pathetic and simply stamps us as another third world banana republic.

Aimey, in his response went on to add anecdotal instances of his students and children to embellish my point of view. In one mouthful I was casting blame on the young parents of today and how different their approach to life is to my parents’ generation. I have had a typical example and I slapped it on Rawle Aimey. I said to him the degeneration is clear when comparing Eric Williams to Patrick Manning or George Weekes to Errol McLeod or in my mind, the list of footballers called to the present lot.

Then it struck me. The thought was swirling around me for some time but at that moment, in that parked car, with Rawle Aimey just about to leave to go about his assignment, I blurted it out, knowing that I was right. My assessment of our society’s predicament and a huge cross-section of the world I felt could stand up to any rigorous challenge.

This economic, social, political system has engulfed us and will continue to strangle us until we become mental and physical slaves. When sixty years ago, the income of one productive parent could have comfortably taken care of the entire family, it’s not so today. Two generations ago, leisure time was an inalienable right for working people, it’s not so today. Half a century ago it was impossible for any one man to be able to enrich himself of over one hundred million dollars whether by stealth or sacrifice, it is not so today.

The point I want to make therefore, is that the call by Bryan St Louis for us to take action is like getting kids in kindergarten school to act: Hands Up; Hands down; Hands out; Hands down.

Imagine an officer of a union involved in a political party (supposedly of the working class) and neither the party nor the unions involved in that party see the need to have one labour federation. They have taken action by being involved in electoral politics which was fashioned in the image and likeness of the capitalists, without first finding a way to form a single federation and still have the nerve, no not nerve, the myopic view to tell all and sundry – take action ‘because’ we have the vision. One of those established religious houses preach as a mantra ‘Blessed be the foolhardy for theirs is the kingdom of heaven’. Amen.