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posted 28 Apr 2016, 14:42 by Gerry Kangalee


By Jamela Khan

(random thoughts on a humid day with even the promise of rain dissipating)

How do progressive thinking citizens in this Republic of Trinidad and Tobago stop the slide into nihilism? What are the alternatives? Have we been able to craft and share a different path? Every government we have had since independence has betrayed us. Yes, there were some achievements. How have we been able to build on those?

Education for all was the flavour of the decade for the development agencies in the 1960s. All governments in the Caribbean followed the prescription and embarked on free universal education policies with varying degrees of success. It was not only in T&T (many like to think a party gave us free education).

We had oil so we were the luckiest in the region. Or, maybe it was the albatross we carried. But did we really achieve all that we could have with the oil windfalls?

Perhaps, it is really all as Fanon described - beware of the party that leads us to Independence promising succour for the masses. And the masses rally behind the call to be free from Massa. Then once the party wins power all that matters is the next election and policies are crafted and implemented to ensure party paramountcy...not for positive changes for the mass of the poor and vulnerable or for a country charting a new destiny.

One only has to look at the rise of party financiers over the last 20 years or so to see in whose interests governments govern - themselves and their financiers.

We did not need a Panama Papers exposé. Panama is a place familiar to our psyche, comfortable to us. Rudder etched it into our history.

Malfeasance is rife. Heck even the Board of the Integrity Commission was so accused. We have become those countries we read about or visited or watched their slow decline into chaos and wondered about what it took to live there and cope with the criminality, the corruption at all levels and yet be able to go about living as best as possible. Laugh and lime even. Have a family.

Perhaps, it comes down to the micro level: small, enclosed lives surrounded by kind and loving family and friends to give us courage and strength and even hope. Little acts of kindness and unconditional love are all we have to share. Like Voltaire's Candide we must cultivate our own garden as best as we can.

But then the outside world, outside our psychological and physical enclave, continues in its chaotic slide. And unless citizens stand up, speak out, who will support the vulnerable? Who will speak out against hubris? Who will be willing to risk it all?

World history has thrown up many such people - those who envision a different world, demand a different one - in every continent, in every age, just when needed, even if progress can be measured only in baby steps. Who here speaks to that vision? Or takes a stance on that cancer of corruption? A few have done so in my lifetime.