Fri | Apr 20, 2018

Lennie Little-White | Bring back Dudus, bring back Reneto!

Published:Sunday | February 18, 2018 | 12:00 AM
Lennie Little-White
Reneto Adams, the blood-curdling, tough-talking retired senior superintendent of police who many grass-roots Jamaicans want to become commissioner of police.
1
2

Believe it or not, those are words emanating either from street corners or grilled verandas in the suburbs where doom and despair have invaded the collective consciousness of ordinary citizens.

How does one explain the extremes in the growing cry for the return of Dudus and Adams? The man-in-the-street is really crying out for strong leadership that can effect immediate positive change in the short term.

It was former commissioner of police, Owen Ellington, who stated that Jamaica was infested with a plethora of gangs in different organised cells. Ellington posited that all cells ultimately took commands from, and had respect for, only one voice - the don of all dons.

Is this the reason our security forces went in search of Dudus to find him at all costs?

We have no evidence that Dudus was the don of all dons who controlled the ants' nest of gangs that are scattered across Jamaica, but street-corner 'suss' often creates popular folk heroes.

At the other end of the spectrum, some are crying out for the recall of retired Senior Superintendent Reneto Adams, the last 'bad bwoy' policeman who feared no criminal. Reneto was a major psychological and physical deterrent to criminals.

Beyond the romantic notion of figureheads like Dudus and Reneto Adams, we need to take an objective look at the antecedents that have caused crime in Jamaica to become the norm rather than the exception.Today's crime has its genesis in urbanisation, which has displaced the agrarian society that once characterised Jamaica.

According to Wikipedia, "Urbanisation is not merely a modern phenomenon, but a rapid and historic transformation of human social roots on a global scale, whereby predominantly rural culture is being rapidly replaced by predominantly urban culture. Rural culture is characterised by common bloodlines, intimate relationships and communal behaviour, whereas urban culture is characterised by distant bloodlines, unfamiliar relations and competitive behaviour."

Urbanisation is the petri dish in which major crime germinates because the transplanted rural dweller is thrust into concrete jungles without the social infrastructure that was the norm back in country.

Consider the mushrooming of dormitory communities around Montego Bay like Catherine Hall or Rhyne Park and the little concrete boxes in Duhaney Park, Denham Town, Tivoli Gardens, Portmore or Liguanea. Within these communities are emerging pockets of urban ghettos with little evidence of some of the social amenities that exist in the rural environment.

Here there are few open green spaces for young people to socialise. The Chiney-shop-cum-community centre has given way to supermarkets, and the rum bar with wooden benches and domino table is a relic. Here, there are fewer churches that sit like sentinels on a hill providing a space for solace and serenity. The schoolhouses are located elsewhere and can only be reached by bus - when you have the fare.

 

Impediments aplenty

 

If, by the grace of God, you manage to survive despite the odds, there is still one major impediment - the lack of jobs - good jobs. Even when there are few jobs available, the remuneration barely matches the minimum wage to cover daily bus fare, a patty and a box drink. Yet, young adults will succumb to their basic instincts and in short order, Winston becomes a babyfather and 'gets a baby' from Susan. Now there is a new mouth to feed and no additional income on the horizon.

This is the perfect scenario for the devil to find work for idle hands. The first 'devil' one meets is the politician and his sidekicks who use strong-armed men to protect turf and ensure future votes. The second 'devil' is the emerging 'area leader on the corner', who recruits youngsters to get involved in petty crimes like robberies, extortion and peddling drugs.

Naturally, it doesn't take long for the youth to aspire to be a shotta where the pickings are much bigger, respect grows and life is far more glamorous. He soon wants to move out of Rhyne Park to buy a nice, big house in Ironshore or Westgate Hills. Their counterparts in the capital's inner city aspire to move to a gated community in Cherry Gardens or Norbrook where the real don-daddas sleep after dark.

These are the "irredeemables", as described by a former minister of government. No pontification by pious church leaders in their three-piece suits at expensive prayer breakfasts in hotel ballrooms reaches the ears of, or convinces, this "lost generation" to adopt an "honest and decent lifestyle".

Our parsons and politicians have lost credibility among the urban populace. Today, the only voices that have any credence among the youth are our urban reggae poets whose lyrics ride many a 'riddim' mass-produced in antiquated eight-track backrooms or modern digital recording studios.

No attitudes or mindsets will be changed or influenced by the politicians or the preachers. The true arbiters of intellectual change and cogent reasoning are the popular reggae artistes that few among the ruling class, the politicians and business community respect or listen to. If we are serious about counteracting a negative mindset and crime that are a result of urbanisation, we should pay close attention to the lyrics of Look Into My Eyes, written by the poor people's governor, Bounty Killer:

Look into my eyes, tell me what you see?

Can you feel my pain? Am I your enemy?

Give us a better way, things are really bad

The only friend I know, is this gun I have

Listen to my voice, this is not a threat

Now you see the nine, are you worried yet?

You've been talking 'bout you want the war to cease

But when you show us hope, then we will show you peace.

So if urbanisation is the root cause of the crime-mushroom shadowing Jamaica, how will we slay the dragon? For the long term, we do not need a clone of Dudus or Reneto Adams. Next time, I will present radical solutions that could start the process of rescuing the next generation if we are serious about healing our bleeding nation-state. Watch this space.

- Lennie Little-White, CD, MA, is a Jamaican filmmaker and writer. Email feedback to columns@gleanerjm.com and lennielittle.white@gmail.com.