Where we stand‎ > ‎News & Comment‎ > ‎

Of Badjohns, Bandits and Barbarians by faye rowe

posted 7 Jan 2019, 08:58 by Gerry Kangalee   [ updated 7 Jan 2019, 09:08 ]
A precocious 11 year old asked me how the old year was and I realized that even though certain things impacted on me, I said check me before the year was over. She did and I responded more or less as such. For this SEA student I had to summarise in biteable portions – she, being part of generation ‘touch screen’. Now I turn my monologue into print form.

So Miss Prisoner of SEA, the badjohns I am referring to went to secondary and tertiary institutions, but that did not stop them from flashing dey mouth in the true tradition of old. I accepted the first self-proclaimed one, he of some cultural acclaim hailing from east Port of Spain – Kurt Allen – dripping with irony some years ago, but those who showed their true colours were simply obnoxious.

Our Prime Minister, already draped with the moniker – Rottweiler – by his PNM predecessor Prime Minister, would stand up in Parliament and challenge a member of the opposition to ‘come outside and say that’ with all the braggadocio of a carnival stickman. And then he has the temerity for his new year’s message to say our society is too violent. Well Ms. Long Suffering SEA Student, we have a role model second to none. Oops, did I say that?

My next badjohn is also second to none, so it’s a tie. Newly selected Commissioner of Police (COP) Gary Griffith must also be part of the carnival scenario. Remember I talked about a badjohn in calypso, and another being a stickman. This COP can be characterized as a ‘Midnight Robber’ because it is one shot one kill; perceived law breakers are cockroaches and he wants an armoured vehicle or two.

There are others of course, who, taking their cue from the top two, would rant and rave from time to time. You can find them within the trade union leadership, in political parties and elsewhere, but they normally do their stuff behind closed doors.

When I talk about bandits you, a product of our primary school system, read or see on TV evidence of their trade. Five hundred plus murders with drugs and guns available on command!

You need to remember however that the reported banditry is only the tip of the iceberg. Who could forget Harry the Credit Union man; the CEO who expertly put a state owned energy company into billions dollar debt with no blame, no apology, no restitution, just crash the company stealing the hopes, dreams and aspirations of thousands; or the politicians who stole the freedom of Tobago-based people to travel or the CEOs of our main sporting bodies. Banditry is widespread and pervasive.

And yet Miss Extra Lessons for SEA, those two classes of anti-heroes are not the worst. They are simply the shakers of the society. The
movers have to be clearly defined. Not just called one percenters but for what they really are – barbarians. What is their mission? Plain and simple, there must be no middle class, only working poor people or else, as they would trumpet, T&T cannot compete.

The Petrotrin debacle, TSTT now and soon WASA and TTEC workers according to their bible must be brought to heel within one generation. The barbarians’ bible continues. Give them some succour – normalize marijuana; allow churches to spread and grow; depend on the capitalist class to own the commanding heights of the economy. It’s a classic IMF style reform that is taking place.

How do we, amongst the working people approach this coming visitation? I dare say it calls for a new breed of defenders who can only emerge from the youth but who have to be informed of the past, the present and the future. The barbarians are at the gates and gatekeepers are needed now! Let us get a channel for communication, for unity to develop into united action.