Sat | Sep 30, 2023

After Dudus, soul-searching

Published:Monday | June 7, 2010 | 12:00 AM

Keith Noel, Contributor

IT IS now time to speak the truth and apportion blame. I say speak the truth first because this requires thought, it demands guts, and it holds the answers. It will literally 'set us free'. Only after we speak the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, will we be in a position to apportion blame.

Let us all speak the truth, at least to ourselves. Those who were in politics in the days when we first began to exploit the poor for their votes must answer hard questions; moreso those politicians who, to ensure political success, extended this to the point of putting guns in the hands of disadvantaged youth. Those politicians who lied to the country, telling us that it was 'the other side' who was responsible for the gun violence, must converse with their conscience, along with those who, when in power, built high-rise housing communities and ensured they were peopled with his/her political supporters only.

And most of all, those politicians who, after realising that the garrison communities they had created had spawned a type of criminal who grew increasingly powerful, continued to give excuses for hugging them up, attending their funerals and repeating euphemisms about them 'protecting' their communities. And I include those who lamely gave 'lists' of the names of these men to the police, in a facile attempt to lessen their power.


We now hear business leaders speak of the efforts they made to battle extortion. Unless they come forward and speak about how easily they gave in to the criminals - admit their fear, confess their actual complicity at times - we will be in for another round of lies and will so easily slip back into the mode we are trying to escape. And this includes all - the man with the emporium to the corner shopowner, the man with the fleet of buses, to the one running a single taxi.

Most hard-pressed will be the police. I am not speaking only about the crooked cop who extorts money from a speeding driver or from a bar owner operating outside the scope of his licence. More in need of this internal review will be the policeman who has been in the payroll of the don. The cop who has passed on information about police activity, turned a blind eye, or helped him in other ways and, in so doing, has increased the level of public mistrust of the police! So too, the honest cop who shrugs when his colleague does wrong!

Then, our entertainers. In order to gain popularity among criminal elements, or to get their financial support, some have become spokespersons and proselytizers of the doctrine of the don. It is they who have spread the 'informer fi dead' message and have encouraged youth to report offences to the big man and not the police. It can NOT be 'money talk, an everything else park', his/her mind can not only be on the financial bottom line. The bottom line must be the youth! The media also must soul-search because, in an effort to gain popularity by being 'liberal' and 'of the people', some media persons have encouraged the anarchy that these entertainers have propounded.

But most of all, the general public has to accept blame. Every man or woman who has had their purse stolen, their son beaten up, their daughter raped, and who reported it to the 'big man' instead of the police, has helped to establish this new order. Every citizen who claims that the young 'shotta' in the lane is a 'defender' of the community and protected him when the police came to investigate a crime, is part of the problem. So, too, is the church leader who, in his effort to maintain peace in the community, has turned a blind eye to any illegal activity of those he or she is trying to help.

Every person, public official or private citizen, must examine himself. All of us, the church leaders, the school principals, the librarians who, in accepting that their institutions belong to the community, might have unwittingly or tacitly accepted the unrequested protection of the 'area leader', must now search for ways to let them and the community know that it is the ordinary folk on whom they depend, not any 'big man'.

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