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MURDER OF A YOUTH MAN by rae samuel

posted 17 Sept 2015, 21:55 by Gerry Kangalee
''Who cares about the babies that are dying
Who cares about the mothers that are crying''

A little room behind the big house in Hope Road: a friend comes and tells us Bob is rehearsing and we leave the Turntable nightclub and pile into a 1600 box Datsun 1976 style. Bob Marley has just 'broken' internationally as they say in show business and the ''Natty Dread'' album is gold. The Federal Palm and the Federal Maple, gift boats from the Canadian government, sail from Trinidad to Jamaica so one can island hop for a small fee. And dread locks now start to spread!

Bob barebacked, tiny, with his 'tam' covering his soon to be legendary locks, is seated with his guitar next to a cigar box amp as they called it in those days. Legendary Jamaican footballer Alan "Skill' Cole is in the room and sharing out spliff if one so wants. Several large ones, the size of one's middle finger, sit atop the amp. Bob does not stop but continues poignantly: "Who cares about the babies that are dying/Who cares about the mothers that are crying/Hey Mr. Business man you worried about your dollar/Do you know where the sun went last night?” And is a positive vibration .and is a positive vibration.

That rough cut would end up on the "War' album as "Rastaman Vibration”. But even now, especially now, it is easy to recall that cameo. I never got to talk to Bob. Something in the air…a 'crime' for which a son has never forgiven.

But it was a period when Michael Manley was experimenting with his version of socialism and young Jamaicans, many of them teenagers, were dropping by the score as “political voyolence filled ya city'' Gang warfare in Jamaica is highly politicised. Kissinger, it is said, in the U.S State Dep't dreaded another Cuba in the Caribbean and Kingston became a Wild West frontier town.

What brought this on this time? The shooting death of a 12 year old in broad daylight in the capital city on an open street… and the response of some teachers and their trade union. We all will and must mourn and it will be lead alas by some of the newly politically anointed who will bare and beat their chests because they have no other adequate response. But a special word to the teachers who mean well and are responding, incorrectly in my view, because of how the 'media', that 'objective protector' of our interests, has spun the story.

The issue is NOT whether he was going to or from school or not going to school at all, if his pants were too tight, if his parents could have been contacted, if the rules allow for him to remain in school until such time someone responsible could be found, how he behaved himself, what kind of friends he had. That is media spin and we must not continue to fall for it.

The issue screaming for our attention is how do we ordinary people, in the face of indifference and apathy or rote response by those in authority, secluded and insulated behind increased defence spending, how do we begin to fend for ourselves? This young man by this time next week would have become nameless and faceless for far too many of us.

"And if not now… when/ And if not you and me…who?"