Thu | Jul 29, 2021

Mark Wignall | Shame on you, Calabar

Published:Thursday | March 28, 2019 | 12:00 AM

It didn’t take long after the birth of Sanjaye Shaw for him to be placed into a bin marked ‘unwanted’. At three months old his mother, probably with one last shred of humanity afflicting her confused mind, left him by the roadside, swaddled and with a nappy in a patty bag beside him.

Sanjaye looked albino, and in Jamaica, we ought never to console ourselves with the manner in which a majority of our people have consistently over a long time abused albinos and denied them basic rights.

I have sat with Sanjaye twice, and, as far as I am concerned, I do not care if he is so or near so or not so.

“I cannot even begin to tell you the number of times I have had to fight for things that most people would take for granted. All I do is fight it and move on. I would be a fool to hold grudges for all this time,” he said to me earlier this week.

To run the story forward, the youngster grew up after being raised by the woman on whose doorstep he was left. In December of 2018, while he was trying to retrieve come cots (from a place where athletes convene) for students on a physics camp, he stated that he was physically assaulted by two of the star athletes at Calabar. His phone, which was knocked out of his hand, was stepped on by the icon of 2019 Calabar, he further stated.

After my first meeting with Shaw, I moved around and spoke to people in his community as I asked them about him. “Him live good wid everybody and nuff people here respect him,” said a 46-year-old street vendor to me.

“Is a good yout, a really good yout,” said a shopkeeper near to Karl Samuda Boulevard, previously known as ‘Black Ants Lane’.

What personally galls me is that Calabar seems to be so in hock to its athletic programme and its possibilities at Champs that in the unfolding story, not only were the two star athletes mildly reprimanded, but slowly the Calabar spinners are moving the story to Shaw being the one who perpetrated the assault.

Calabar, are you crazy? Are you, too, figuratively about to leave him on another dump heap? Sanjaye Shaw has moved Calabar’s pass rate in physics from below 40 per cent to in the 90 per cent range.

Who is that person likely to give Calabar High School that quick shot of adrenaline as the Champs season progresses? Christopher Taylor, their superstar athlete.

Who is that person most likely to do the most to prepare a lasting future to many more students at Calabar as they leave school and become adults? Very obviously, people like Mr Sanjaye Shaw.

“The story that it was Mr Shaw who was the aggressor is terrible and wicked. My son was there and he told me what happened and it was exactly as Mr Shaw said,” one parent told me.

“Mr Corcho nah come back to Calabar,” said a 68-year-old retired civil servant living in the area to me. When I asked him why he said that, he told me he had seen that play of ‘leave’ before. Whether that is true or not, Calabar High School needs to reaffirm its core objectives.

Has it finally made that turn where athletic achievement is not just a by-product of a holistic education package but, in fact, athletic achievement will supersede everything else, including some pesky physics teacher who fails to submit to the school reality that physics is great, robotics is awesome, but star athletes are gods.