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Raffique Shah


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Wine and have a good time

By Raffique Shah
August 26, 2012

I suppose there are a few achievements that we can celebrate at age 50. Top of my list would be the blessing that as a nation of many ethnicities we have not degenerated into bloody race wars or violent religious conflicts. It's for want of trying, I should add. Many ethnic, political and religious misleaders, past and present, have worked hard to steer their flocks into confrontation. They could not give a damn about the possible consequences of their manipulation. Luckily for us, as David Rudder sang, most Trinis just "want to wine and have a good time and look for a lime".

So we have that going for us, a togetherness that is innate, that overrides the battle cries of the bigots who are trapped in their cocoons. In a twisted way, this quality is both a blessing and a curse. A blessing because it stems possible bloodletting on a scale not even the killers that currently run amok can conjure in their wildest imaginations. But a curse in the sense that, in the stupor of indifference, we cannot band together and put a severe licking, quite literally, on those who have worked overtime to steal the soul of this nation. These no-goods have undermined our good nature for 50 bloody years!

Let me curb my anger. This is supposed to be a season for celebration, although I wonder about that. I manage a smile and move on. What else is there to have me proudly pronounce, this is my own, my native land? We could have been worse off in relation to the economy, the wealth of the nation, I guess. True, we are endowed with natural resources that make us the envy of countries far bigger than ours. And yes, bandits in jackets-and-ties posing as saviours have robbed us blind. Billions of dollars have been siphoned into bank accounts that neither we nor the Financial Intelligence Unit or its predecessor agencies ever saw or would see.

Oh, some of the thieves rub their ill-gotten gains in our faces. We look at the palaces, the mansions, the business spreads, the beach-chalets that were built with our money. They know that we know, but they don't care. The long arm of the law never reaches that high. The evenly balanced scales of justice somehow tilt in their favour.

But hey Bro, Sis, you know what? You and I, as people of ordinary means, sleep easily, soundly, at night. We, and our less fortunate siblings, live relatively comfortably, not knowing the pangs of hunger we see etched in the faces of tens, hundreds of millions in countries across the world. So, for all the banditry perpetrated against us, grand theft of the oil and gas and pitch that belong to all of us, we have survived. We have made it to 50.

Still, with the spirit of forgiveness oozing from my pores, I cannot help but bellow: not another dollar! Not another day! We have been too tolerant of thieves for far too long, for 50 damn years. Our nature-given resources do not lie in a bottomless reservoir. Someday they will run low or run out. Before we get to that point, we, all of us, must ensure that there are no destitute people in this land of plenty. We must band together and demand that the wealth of this nation be distributed more equitably, that no child be left hungry and crying, that no elder be cast aside to suffer, to die in misery. We have tolerated these thieves for 50 damn years!

It's past time for us, the many that have stayed silent as the few clawed at our soul and robbed us blind, to reclaim what is ours. As the Bible says, there is a time for everything, a time for war and a time for peace. Truth be told, while we have been a lawless people, we have also been peaceful for far too long—for 50 damn years.

Before we storm the ramparts of the unjust, the dens of the thieves, we must first look inward though, examine our own ranks, see if we have the moral authority to engage the enemy in battle. Because the Bible also warns us to look first at the beam in our own eyes before we note the mote in our brother's eye. We may be the 99 per cent and they one per cent. But in a battle for justice, it takes much more than numerical strength to conquer the enemy. A good general would select only the best troops for the mother of all battles.

So, I name all "lochos", those who believe the country owes them the good life, that they are entitled to "eat ah food" for free, to wear "brands" and "bling" off the sweat of others. Fall out! Get thee hence! I call out those who have taken God's injunction to "go forth and multiply" quite literally. They produce "pickneys" aplenty, insisting that "de govament" or "neighb" would mind the by-products of their lust. Begone, ye pests, who will bring only pestilence to the new order. You do not belong.

I have only just started. I scan the dwindling army, seeking out those who, in their hearts, want to win the war so that they can replace the bandits-in-power. There are so many, it's unbelievable. Their pious faces do not disguise the pillage on their minds. I see it all. They cannot wait to get their hands on the Treasury. They will be worse than this gang in power, or the bandits before them!

Look, forget this noble war, yes. Fifty years hence, this country will be no better than it is today. Let us just wine and have a good time. Amen...

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