Mark Wignall | Murder as sport and payback
Visiting the Hundred Lane site the morning after a midnight massacre taught me lessons I was unprepared for. It was in the first week of January 2002 and all who were there - journalists, politicians, preachers and residents were in various states of shock.
Humans, most of us thought, were not supposed to treat other humans like this. At eight in the morning the bodies of the seven shot dead, including women and children had already been removed by the authorities. All that was left was the burnt rubble of the wooden tenement and goats roasted alive in their pens.
Later as I visited a nearby community where some of the residents knew me and where I believe answers could be found I asked the foolish question. Why?
"Is we live yah. Is we haffi deal wid dem. Is weeks now wi a warn dem an dem still a shoot up wi place an a kill wi people."
"But", I stupidly insisted, "women and children. Women and children were shot dead!"
DEM GET DI MESSAGE
One 'community leader' looked me in the eye and said, "You don't live here. We live here. We had to send them a message. We sent that message last night and trust me, dem get dat message now!"
I had known the community leader for about three years and we had many discussions about easing the tensions between his area of influence and the neighbouring Hundred Lane. Most of the time in our discussions over a few bottles of Guinness his focus would be on getting the community's children to attend school on a regular basis and in protecting women.
And yet here he was divesting himself of all humanity as he attempted to justify the mass murder which included women and children. Not surprisingly, five years later he too was shot dead, right in his own backyard.
The recent spate of murders of women and young girls, some as the result of love affairs gone wrong is not new in this country. It is just another spike. In fact, many of those murders follow the trajectory of dysfunctional relationships where women are considered the man's most valuable property.
An uptown man is faced with the bank foreclosing on his $90 million house. He gets a lawyer and fights through the courts. The man in the lane is faced with losing his woman and she risks losing her life.
For years the nation's best communicators, our dancehall DJ's carried the reality of ownership of women in their songs and we all thought it was fun as we rocked to the beat. Now the terrible genie is out of the bottle and many of us expect the Security minister and the next commissioner of police to chase down that genie, catch it and force it back into the bottle. It will not happen that easy. It will not happen at all. That satanic genie has long infiltrated our culture and it will take a generation to rid ourselves of it.
In a lane not far from Hundred Lane lived two cousins both 13 years old. This was about 20 years ago. Mothers abroad effectively abandoning them. Of course, no fathers. One borrowed a gun and with no reason that could bear up to logic shot up a group of men playing dominos. One man was wounded.
As it hit the news the cousins shared the story. Two days later the other cousin saw a man riding a bicycle and shot him dead. Again they shared the story with glee. In the next year the boys went on a shooting spree, one trying to outdo the other. It was the very community leader who I spoke with who told me that he was forced to call them aside and 'silence' them for good. Their bodies were buried.
Yet, strangely he was able to justify the heinous murders of women and children. The women of this country need to grow in anger and take to the streets all over this country. And if our men are worth anything, they must be right there beside them.
We cannot make love in the nights and kill each other in the day. We cannot go to church on Sundays and cut throats on Mondays. The only answer is to band together now. We have the solution.