Dr. Kwame Nantambu

Critical issues of governance in TnT
Posted: May 01, 2003
Afro-centric analysis
by Dr. Kwame Nantambu

Now is the time to address the critical issues of governance in TnT under the nuttin PNM government.

The regime's publication of it's "vision 2020" piece of trash "that promises TnT developed nation status by 2020" only represents political ex-tempo at its zenith. This document is just part and parcel of the carnival-like mentality approach to public policy and governance in TnT. Indeed, such a document may make Trinis feel good about themselves but when one looks below the surface, reality takes a leave of absence without pay. Maybe the Prime Minister is totally unaware that 70 per cent of the population in the 20 to 45 age group, the most productive age group in the work force, are persons infected with HIV/Aids.

A quick, non-scientific look at governance in TnT under the nuttin PNM reveals that this government can ensure that Trinis are safe and secure when they are 'whinin' on the streets with each other on carnival Monday and Tuesday but this nuttin government cannot ensure that Trinis are safe and secure when they are dining at their homes with their family during the other 363 days of the year.

Indeed, it is typical that the nuttin PNM government unveiled an anti-crime plan on January 2003 under the carnival band banner that it will make a dent in crime. This is just wishful thinking to make Trinis feel good about themselves a la vision 2020.

The fact of the matter is this six-point 'new plan' will make nothing more than a tiny teeth-print on the culture of crime and violence in TnT. Crime statistics over the past twelve years and current figures for murders and kidnappings for 2003 are prima facie evidence that this 'new plan' is a colossal exercise in futility. And contrary to the assertion of Police Commissioner Hilton Guy that crime is a very complex issue rooted in our social structure, the stark reality is that private crime feeds off of public policy and governance in any country. As such, this incoherent assertion is a typical Euro-centric characteristic to the extent that the victim is blamed for his/her victimization and not the nuttin PNM government.

It is the responsibility of the government to conceptualise, devise and implement sound, realistic and comprehensive policies to reduce and eradicate crime. It is not the responsibility of the country's 'social structure.' A country's 'social structure' is formed and fashioned by government's public policy and system of governance and not the other way around. In this regard, then, the assertion by the Police Commissioner is just circuitous reasoning. What else is new under this nuttin, impotent, inept and invisible PNM regime when it comes to dealing with crime and violence in TnT? In addition, it need occasion no great surprise that the government allocated a measly '$3m anti-crime plan' so that Trinis can dine in safety and security as a family in their homes but allocated a whopping $50.8m for it's new initiative' pan in primary schools plan.

This speaks volumes as to the public policy priorities of the government. Pan in primary schools plan is nothing but an unconscionable, criminal act committed by the government. Indeed, at the local level, while Port-of-Spain mayor Murchison Brown was completely pleased with the police "Carnival Crime Crackdown," yet there is no mayoral public policy "crackdown" during the other 363 days of the year when "flies swarm (the) city" or when "POS (comes) under water" every time during the rainy season or when nightly violence has transformed the nation's capital into "a ghost town." There is no mayoral public policy "crackdown" when nasty, smelly vagrants adorn the city's sidewalks or when trash along with flies and nasty canal water become part of the menu being served at food stalls around Independence Square or when the mayor comes out of his office and sees Woodford Square looking like a sore thumb with a nasty, bleeding gash.

At the national level, National Security Minister Howard Chin Lee has concluded that "everything was cool" on carnival Monday and Tuesday and that the police's "zero tolerance" public policy plan cum 4,000 police officers including some plain clothes ones, "surveillance cameras--every hour on the hour," "fines and/or jail for (carnival band's) stormers," "heavy police and army patrols," among other things, made this 2003 carnival "one of the safest." This national security plan for carnival was air-tight, precise and perfecto; it also included daily policy consultations with the business sector and so elated are the powers-that-be about this year's carnival security plan that they have publicly vowed to implement this plan for carnival 2004.

Between 1991 and 2002, there have been 1,413 murders in TnT and 59 brutal murders as of this writing in 2003, yet Minister Chin Lee says publicly that the "crime rate (is) not out of control"--under which hard rock has he been hiding? Can this Minister of government read and understand police crime records? Again this ministerial retort just falls in line with the carnival-like mentality when it comes to national public policy--making and governance under this nuttin PNM regime. The PNM government has a dysfunctional national security crime-solving plan but a functional national security crime-solving plan when it comes to carnival.

Commissioner of Police Hilton Guy kept his promise for adopting "an aggressive and pro-active approach to mass" but on the flip side, this Commissioner has not yet adopted an aggressive and pro-active approach to the protection of life in TnT, 24-7-365. Maybe the commissioner, Prime Minister Patrick Manning and his Ministers all drink water from the same carnival-like mentality tap!

The fact of the matter is that one of the accepted/established functions of any government, regardless of whether it's trademark is nuttinness or corruption, is the protection of it's citizens. In this regard, the nuttin PNM regime's record has been an unmitigated, categorical, shameful disaster to date and still counting, until maybe the next national general elections. The fact of the matter is that the culture of crime in TnT knows no status to the extent that under Police Commissioner Hilton Guy, innocent citizens are successfully suing the State as a result of police brutality, and police officers are not only being charged/accused of beating, robbing and kidnapping innocent citizens but may also be on the receiving end of "bribes and hush money" from criminal elements in TnT, according to published reports. Who is protecting whom Mister Commissioner, before and after carnival? Where is your internal police crime crackdown master-plan? Why aren't you keeping your anti-crime "promise" to citizens, 24-7-365?

Maybe, police work or employment is seasonal--as in carnival season. Only in TnT. Maybe this writer is missing something about TnT's police way of life. I don't think so. The fact of the matter is that youth gang violence and brutal killings/murders have now become an acceptable/established way of life in TnT while the nuttin PNM ministers are arguing about salary and "scratching dey face."

The value of the life of a youth in TnT is now expendable and amounts to nuttin as in the PNM government's policy toward the escalation and prevention of crime. TnT youths are killing each other for a mere $5,000 gold chain--an insane copy-cat way of life that duplicates "Black on Black crime" among African-American youths and teenagers. And like their counterparts in the United States, TnT youths and teenagers have not earned the social label, stigma and catagorisation as the "endangered species." These are the quality of youths and teenagers whom public policy and governance under the nuttin PNM government are producing in TnT. Are these the future adults the Prime Minister has in mind in "vision 2020"?

And to compound this insanity, the Ministry of Education has announced an air tight, precise, aggressive, pro-active, holistic master-plan "to introduce a pan programme in primary schools." In its ultimate, insane, carnival-like mentality wisdom, the Ministry of Education has decreed that 150 schools will each have "a 19-piece band," with "an additional 100 schools each year until 2008." A la "Carnival Crime Crackdown" the Ministry has held meetings and consultations with "tunes and builders to determine how to meet this kind of demand." On the flip-side, the Ministry has no master-plan to determine how to meet the exponential raise in the supply of violence in the nation's schools. On one hand, the nuttin PNM government has orchestrated a successful national "carnival lock-down" master-plan to secure and protect revellers who are 'whinin' during those two days but as of this writing, the government has orchestrated no national school lock-down master-plan to secure and protect students who are studying during the school year. On the other hand, this carnival-like mentality approach to public education policy-making is conducted in an atmosphere in which as of July 2000:

"Fifty-nine of the 487 children assigned to the Port -of-Spain Model School got zero in essay writing at the Common Entrance Exam. Twenty-four got one mark out of a total of 60. Ninety-nine got two marks. Thirty-nine got three. One hundred and thirty-nine got four; 69 got six and 14 got seven. In the exam, no one got above 30 marks." The fact of the matter is that under this nuttin PNM regime, TnT students cannot read nor write, they cannot engage in critical thinking and analysis but they can stab other students, they can traffic in marijuana, they can bully and intimidate other students and the final curtain has now been drawn in that TnT students can beat pan in primary school. Way to go, Madame Education Minister. 'Edjumacation' has replaced education during your sinister tenure. Your ministry has finally subjected TnT students to Education MAAFA. And to add more salt in the education wound of TnT students, the Ministry of Education's $1,500 book-loan programme a while ago was a total, disgraceful fiasco, disaster and debacle. And while the Ministry of Education could not find money to pay it's telephone bills some time ago, now all of a sudden this same Ministry can find hundreds of millions of dollars to pay bills for it's pan in primary school programme.

Is this public policy priority or callous public impropriety?

This mal-functioning Ministry can also allocate these same massive amounts of money from innocent, hard-working, tax-paying parents for their children to beat pan in school but in similar arrogant and vindictive breath, this Ministry wants these same dissed, unconsulted, hard-working, tax-paying parents to use their own meager after-tax money to "pay for private security" so that their children can beat books in school.

Is this public policy priority or callous public impropriety? "Big, big shame on you," Madam Minister. And in September 2002, a five-year-old Afrikan-Trini boy was sent home by the principal of Rosary Boys RC School because "groomed hairstyles for the school's pupils were mandatory." This writer is at a total loss as to what the principal meant by a "groomed' hairstyle. This Trini hairstyle jargon also duplicates the American concept of "good hair." One can just imagine the mental and psychological impact and scar that have been imbedded on this child's psyche. This is cultural incest. And the Minister of Education did not see it fit to remove this principal from office. Is she also scratching her face? Maybe, the Minister of Education (who is of Afrikan descent) wants TnT students to beat pan, which is Afrikan in origin but they must not look or dress as Afrikan. Maybe, the Minister of Education (who is of Afrikan descent) wants TnT students to beat pan, which is Afrikan in origin but they must chew Euro-American made gum and dress in "good" hairstyles. This is cultural denial and insanity at its zenith perpetuated, perpetrated and pre-ordained by the Ministry of Education of this nuttin PNM government.

Under the nuttin PNM government, the Ministry of Education has been transformed into the Ministry of Degradation.

There is a big difference between edjumacation for Emancipation versus education for Liberation. They are not comparable. They are not interchangeable. They are just different in scope, goals, objectives, competencies, conceptualization and implementation. And to further compound this historical-cultural insanity and denial, one finds that in March 2003, this very same nuttin PNM government announced "the introduction of the (Hindi) language at the primary and secondary levels in 21 government schools," with "16 more schools (to) be added this year.' This is national education policy. While no attempt or pro-active, aggressive master-plan has been announced to introduce any Afrikan language or any aspect of Afrikan history at the primary and secondary levels in government schools, this very same nuttin PNM government has announced the introduction of pan in primary schools. This is national education policy. What's up with this picture? Maybe, these are the pan-beating and calypso English writing Trinis the PNM government intends to produce in it's "vision 2020".

Trinis of a particular ethnic elk, please wake up and smell the coffee. The nuttin PNM government is selling you all a set of bad goods with a nuttin future. The future survival of all students on this planet depends on learning, understanding, analyzing, appreciating, living-out and beating books 24-7-365 about their respective history and culture. The future survival of some students on this planet does not depend on their beating pan 24-7-365. If that's the case, then "Nah leave" TnT. "Bury right here." The powers-that-be in the Education Ministry must understand that students in this world are judged by how well they can beat out the English language from a book and not by how well they can beat out a note from a steelpan.

Only in TnT is the latter true. This is total insanity at the highest level of governance in TnT. The fact of the matter is that beating pan and learning how to write calypso should be optional in school, but beating books and learning how to write standard, universal English must be mandatory in school. Maybe the Minister of Education is totally unaware and/or probably does not even care about the 'torment' lecturers experience when they encounter the Bad English plague at UWI.

This national calamity is not rocket science; it is PNM carnival-like mentality education policy-induced. And the Prime Minister has the audacity to announce the opening of the University of TnT for the 2004-2005 academic year. Give me a break, please! For whereas beating pan and singing calypso give some Trini students a fish so they can feed themselves for one day, beating books and writing standard, universal English teach all Trini students how to fish so that they can feed themselves for the rest of their lives.

At this juncture, it is crucial to recall the apocalyptic admonition of the erudite, deceased Afro-centric Afrikan-American historian, Dr. John Henrik Clarke in his own words:

"History is a clock that people use to tell their political and cultural time of day. It is also a compass that people use to find themselves on the map of human geography. The role of history is to tell a people what they have been and where they have been; what they are and where they are. The most important role that history plays is that it has the function of telling a people where they still must go and what they still must do."
And as the deceased Afrikan-Trini, International Pan Afrikan Nationalist Kwame Ture puts it: "If you don't know who you are, you would not know what your interests are." The bottom line is that a people without a sense of their history are totally ill-equipped to visualize and plan a future, because of an unclear and distorted/mis-directed picture of their past. The fact of the matter is that under the nuttin PNM current national education policy, one ethnic group is promoted to use language and culture as their historical clock, while another ethnic group is relegated by design to use pan and calypso as their historical clock.

In the final analysis, let us recall that nothing in life happens by chance. Some things happen according to destiny and "nature's plan" while others happen and/or are pre-determined according to the "laws of Man." While rampant and wanton crimes of violence, murders and kidnappings continue to surge in TnT 24-7-365, the nuttin PNM government still continues "scratching dey face", ad nauseam. No heavy dose of penicillin can cure or eradicate the afore-mentioned poisonous triplets that now afflict, inflict and infect TnT. Only a new genre of public policy makers and formulation is the real solution.

The nuttin PNM regime is the real consensual problem. In fact, one may argue that there is a direct correlation between these deadly, allergic triplets and public policy and governance in TnT. Political recidivism must end before any "vision" can be contemplated for TnT, constitutional reform not withstanding.

Shem Hotep ("I go in peace.")

Dr. Nantambu is an Associate Professor, Dept. of Pan-African Studies, Kent State University, U.S.A.

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