Awaiting the Final Call
October 14, 2001
By Selwyn R. Cudjoe
I have remarked often that fellow citizens would never accept the truth that constant threats are made against my life until the assassin's bullet finds its mark. We like to say that political assassinations cannot happen here and that one likes to toot one's horn to promote one's notoriety. That may be true. But the constant threats and attacks against my life keep coming with their own ferocity. Unfortunately, my 92-year old mother finds herself in the center of this ignominious situation.
It was fortuitous that when two gunmen broke into my mother's home in May of last year, the Inter-American Commission of Human Rights of the Organization of American States, did not take same lackadaisical attitude of the T&T Government. Neither, for that matter, was it entirely satisfied with Ramesh Maharaj's argument (he was AG at the time) that I had not pursued "adequate and effective domestic remedies…in respect of the allegations" that I made. Sixteen months after this incident, I wonder what conclusions local officials have arrived at and whether all domestic remedies have been exhausted. If they have, I wonder if I must continue to be a sitting duck for those who wish to eliminate me.
Fourteen months after this initial encounter, at 5 am on August 9, the Red Day of Resistance, Part 2, I received a telephone call that warned: "We go kill you today." I reported that incident to the police and duly informed my Woodford Square audience. None of our newspapers reported this aspect of my speech. Fortunately, I reproduced that speech in "Afro-Trinbagonians: No Longer Blinded by Our Eyes," my most recent book. Needless to say, several "poison pen" letters preceded that telephone threat.
Now this! Initially, I was not prepared to write about it except that my brother, Oscar Gooding, felt that I should take this incident seriously. He is convinced that this latest attack has nothing to do with robbery. He believes it was politically motivated. Strangely enough, my mother shares a similar opinion. She, too, suggests that this latest incident had nothing to do with robbery. "It's intimidation, plain and simply!"
Although the incident shook her up, she remains unafraid. I wish I had her courage. She intends to stay where she is until the Good Lord is ready for her. Yet, she could not help but opine: "When they began to tie me up, and put the cloth in my mouth, I wondered if this was how God intended that I should die?" My mother is not afraid to die. Very often she says to me: "My time on this earth is fast approaching its end." But where is the courage of two men (???) who tied up a 92-year old woman and her Indian helper (no discrimination here) as they sought to scare the living daylights out of her?
We certainly have our suspicions about who is involved with these incidents. Quickly after the May 2000 incident, at a public meeting at Port of Spain City Hall, a former member of the UNC (an African woman) implicated a leading UNC figure. She stated publicly that when NAEAP was launched at La Joya, a minister of government (he shall remain nameless at this time) met with several African members of the party and told them to go La Joya, break it up, and say "Cudjoe is a racist!" It is reported also that another prominent female member of the UNC was present when this meeting took place. I am reliably informed that the same MP was also connected with the May 20 incident that was taken up by the Inter-American Human Rights Commission.
It is the style of our media to treat these matters with a degree of nonchalance. The usual retort is "There he goes again." If I remember correctly, another influential member of the UNC, now a dissident, implied that I concocted the first incident to increase my own importance. I don't know how he feels about this present incident since even the Police, according to the Trinidad Guardian (October 13), are "ruling out robbery." They, too, believe there is more in the mortar than the pestle.
In the recent political imbroglio, Concerned Citizens of Trinidad and Tobago have taken a prominent part in calling upon citizens to support the President as he goes about his duties. We continue to believe that he should appoint Patrick Manning as the Prime Minister and allow the new Accommodation to run the government. We continue to believe that the Electoral and Boundaries Commission should be disbanded, a position we took in January when we petitioned the President. As I noted in my Red Day of Resistance Speech, we continue to believe that "moral decadence resides in the heart of our society. Moral [and material] corruption have paralyzed the government and robbed it of its moral authority. Even the University of the West Indies, our highest institution of learning where intellectual openness and fairness ought to prevail, is sullied by the presence of a leader who has absolutely no right to be there" (Afro-Trinbagonians). Corruption does not reside only at the bottom of the society.
One must continue to struggle for the things in which one believes. I do not know what my end will be. Yet, I insist that neither political nor racial thuggery will prevent me from contributing to my society. They will come at me at my home; relay their threats through the telephone and poison pen letters; and keep me out of the newspapers, off radio and the television. As Maya Angelou says, "Yet, I rise," imbued with the conviction that although I walk in the valley of the shadow of death I shall fear no one. Jah stands with those who believe in the power of their truths.
Carmen Cudjoe is old but her bravery endures. It is a testimony to her faith and her enduring belief in righteousness. As she counsels always: "Son, ask God for his help and his mercy, but keep on doing what you are doing." With God's Grace, we will keep on keeping on. There is nothing that one can do when the final call comes.
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