Dr. Kwame Nantambu

Decoding the anatomy of violence in TnT

Posted: July 28, 2004
Updated: September 27, 2004
By Dr. Kwame Nantambu

Now that violence permeates, engulfs and impacts every aspect of life in TnT 24-7-365 and the government's anti-crime Police Reform Bills have either been defeated, debated and/or withdrawn in the House of Representatives, it becomes vital to dissect, analyze and entangle this multi-dimensional, heterogeneous, amoeba-like beast.

But before doing so, reflection suggests that the afore-mentioned historical, famous debate, albeit public debacle, started off in an atmosphere of mature parliamentary professionalism, respect and responsible statesmanship but in the end, it became smothered with a historical, infamous, irresponsible and disrespectful parliamentary decorum, amidst a very thick coating of immature, personal invectives and puerile, vitriolic "gun talk".

And coming on the heels of this displicable public parliamentary debacle, TnT has been further embarrassed and humiliated by, an alleged violent tea room fight/ encounter/ brawl between government Housing Minister Dr. Keith Rowley and Opposition MP Chandresh Sharma in Parliament on 15 September 2004.

However, for the purpose of this article, violence is defined as any act that harms, hurts or causes mental-psychological, physical-bodily trauma, injury or hate to one's self or to another human being.

This analysis takes the position that an act of violence represents an attitudinal problem; it reflects a visible, internal, spiteful, jealous and hateful feeling towards another person.

And this inner feeling manifests itself in an external act of violence. Ergo, it seems logical and sane that to change/fix external acts of violence then the first thing that must be done is to change/fix the inner attitudes of individuals towards each other in TnT.

As such, it is necessary to issue the following caveats:

One, violence is not a violent phenomenon; it just ends up expressing and/or manifesting itself that way. Violence in TnT is not a crisis that has been held in suspended isolation but is a human-values driven phenomenon.

Two, no society can legislate morality, decency, public accountability and responsibility,; this is all an inside job for the individual to deal with and raise above for the public good.

Three, public policy and governance in TnT have been a blatant, unmitigated, blame-game, "political one-upmanship" disaster that has already happened.

Four, family life in TnT functions in a house--- a building--- not a home.

Five, violence begins among grown-up, educated, mature adults in the nation's Parliament; violence only ends up among immature, uneducated your children - teenagers in the nation's schools.

Six, the daily way of life, personal-human interaction and value system in TnT have become very Euro-centric, materialistic, commercialized and Americanized at their intrinsic core.

Seven, these characteristics are now shrouded in the swaddling clothes of the irresistible, magnetic, subliminal but negative, detrimental and self destructive forces of the American way, including the uncontrollable and omnipresent greed, "dog-eat-dog" factor.

Eight, only an inward-looking, holistic, heuristic (problem-solving), national-communal strategy can bring TnT back to its original "Bone", right now, Trinbagonians are happily, voluntarily, shamelessly and pathetically sucking on somebody else's "Bone". Trinbagonians have lost/abandoned their original identity both in mind and spirit.

TnT is now America "2 De Bone" and that's the major problem in this crime-violence infested society.

It seems as though Trinbagonians have been totally brainwashed to embrace with informed consent, the illusion that they do need an American connection to legitimize their everyday actions and existence. "Dis is crazyness" at its insane, socio-cultural zenith.

Nine, it does not follow that a comprehensive plan to curb the spate of violence is holistic; comprehensiveness is a necessary but not sufficient condition for, holism.

And that's the major problem in the conceptualization, planning and implementation of public policy in TnT today.

Ten, TnT is a violent country; "crime is part of the mainstream culture of the society". Just to give a few illustrations/examples: There exists Parliamentary violence, that is, total disrespect among adult politicians, often "forcing House Speaker Barry Sinanan to appeal for better behavior in the Parliament".

Domestic violence, that is, brutal spousal physical abuse, children disrespecting adults and adults cursing each other and children and incest which involves rape/sexual violence against babies, children/step daughters under legal age limit;

Legal violence, that is, police brutality, wrongful arrests and thievery, protection of drug lords, bribery and drug involvement/trafficking in the police service as well prison officers allegedly violently beating and murdering inmates in the nation's prisons and symbiotic collusion between military personnel in the TnT Regiment and "known criminal", "crime bosses" and "major players" in the country's criminal underworld.

Civil violence, that is, public servants/officials who allegedly steal State funds and clerks in the public service who display an unethical, smug, uncivil attitude when taxpayers (their employers) approach them for assistance at government's offices; some of "these people" act as if they are doing members of the public a big favour by attending to them. They seem to forget that they are members of the Public Service Association and as such, are obliged to serve not disrespect, disserve nor diss members of the public.

Capitalist violence, that is, legitimate, unscrupulous, nefarious businessmen who not only raise/"jack-up" prices in the most anti-consumer fashion but also support organized crime elements;

Education violence, that is 40 per cent teacher delinquency/absenteeism and rampant teacher dis-interest and disregard for the profession, presence of school violence, disrespect for adults, illegal drug-trafficking and bullies plus "a high rate of substance abuse in secondary schools" compounded by absence of corporal punishment and Afrikan History in school curriculum but the presence of heavily government funding of pan tuning programmes;

Commuter violence, that is Trinbagonians who eat poisonous American fast foods; parents/adults who give this genre of poison to children and teenagers are guilty and stand indicted for child health abuse and long-term endangerment.

Physical violence, that is, street gang turf war, murder, kidnapping, robbery, drive-by shooting, contract killing, female teenage abduction, gang rape, car hijacking etc.;

Personal violence, that is, Trinbagonians who do not trust each other, do not relate to each other, hate/dislike/jealous of each other, possess an American-type "get-over", "dog-eat-dog" attitude/mentality towards each other and have adopted a Me way of life and being;

Public violence, that is, when private citizens and public officials, including politicians, make incendiary, divisive, polarizing, inflammatory, crime-inducing/law-breaking remarks/statements.

The fact of the matter is that violence is a national, macro not partisan, micro, parochial crisis in TnT. We are all affected and impacted----rich and poor, private and business person, trade union person, Jew gentile, Christian, atheist, Muslim, Anglican, Roman Catholic, Orisha, Shouter Baptist, Seven Day Adventist, Pentecostal, Jehovah Witness, Government MP, Opposition MP, a foreign country's Ambassador, Hindu, Afrikan, Indian, Chinese, Syrian,Corsican, Lebanese, European, "Redman", "Trini White", mixed and whatever.

None of us is free until all of us are free!

Of all the manifestations of violence, cultural violence a la American way of life is the prime culprit.

In this regard, the fundamental questions that must be asked are as follows:

1. what is the difference between adult Trinbagonians (male and female) chewing American-made gum in the hot sun as per mainstream American TV programming as well as wearing a coat as if the celestial and climatic alignment of TnT has been dislodged with the resulting apocalyptic, cataclysmic and catastrophic reality that apparently TnT now has four seasons a la America,

And young female Trinbagonians wearing a sweater around their hips and buttocks in this hot climate in addition to Multiple handbags over their shoulders and in hands A la White and African-American females as per main- Stream American TV programming,

Versus young adults (male and female) either eating poisonous American-made fast foods or Trinbagonian young males walking crooked and sideways with their pants almost down to their knees and their underwear showing as per African-American mannerisms on BET-TV programming and all this is further compounded by the reality check that some of these very same young men are now not only imitating and mimicking their highly revered American role model "gangstas" but also living out their modus operandi and modus vivendi by conducting deadly-effective, surgical, sniper-like late night shootings on the country's highways as part of a vicious, violent, insane and bizarre "initiation process" for entry into a gang,

Versus our young school children trafficking in illegal drugs and carrying knives, cutlasses, scissors, etc, to school for American copycat gang-related violence as per mainstream Euro-American TV programming about violent behaviour in schools?.

The answer to this question is that there is absolutely no difference whatsoever between the behavioural patterns of the four afore-mentioned Trinbagonians. None, period.

They are all controlled by the one, same external source, namely, American TV programming in all its extremely negative, self-destructive manifestations. And that's the scary part.

By this American subliminal indoctrination, Trinbagonians have come to accept the inferiority of their culture and identity and a priori, the superiority of the American culture and identity.

This sad reality is best explained by Listervelt Middleton, the deceased African-American host/producer of the then BET-TV programme titled "For the People" (1989) as follows:
"In an effort to create the myth of white superiority, Europeans, including European-Americans, had to create the myth of black or African inferiority. The Europeans saw that only by claiming for themselves that which had been created by Africans can they spread the seeds of black inferiority around the globe. And that they did with such calculated precision that they were able to get the African to reject his own skin, reject his own God.

The negative indoctrination of black people by some white Americans reminds one of how elephants are trained. It is said that the elephant's trainer starts off training the elephant by putting a large chain around the elephant's neck and pulling on the chain to make the elephant respond to different commands. The elephant's trainer uses smaller and smaller chains to get the same responses he had obtained with the more cumbersome chain until he uses nothing but a string. The cumbersome and unwieldy chains of slavery around the world were thrown away after black people had been trained how to respond to alien commands.

Many of us are walking around thinking that we have chains on our feet and minds not knowing that a mere string is keeping us in check. This string is the myth of white superiority and invincibility. What happens when the elephant discovers that a mere string has been stretching between it and independent power? We should all look around ourselves and dare to step beyond the boundaries that have been set for us and our children."
In this specific case of Trinbagonians' historical-cultural amnesia, abandonment and abdication, the "mere string" is American subliminal TV programming.

This "mere string" determines the dynamics between raw power and utter powerlessness.

So, if one wants to fix the spate and ubiquitous spread of violence in TnT, then first and foremost, change the Euro-centric American mentality of adults, move down the social-values ladder to young males and females and end up with the children. Attack the "mere string" from the head.

2. Are adult calypso entertainers saying that they need an American connection to make our musical-cultural artform legit?

As a corollary (a), why is there a caricature of Michael Jackson doing the moonwalk at Dimanche Gras--- the mecca of this country's musical-cultural showcase?

The fact of the matter is that Michael Jackson is an alleged American pedophile, who in 1993, paid more than US $18million to a then fourteen year-old boy "to settle a lawsuit which accused him of manipulative seduction and sexual battery" and on 16 June 2004, this same accused American pedophile agreed to pay the sum of US$15.3million to another boy-child he is accused of allegedly molesting, "committing a lewd act upon, administering alcohol and conspiracy to commit child abduction."

Is this the kind of person Trinbagonians want to reward and celebrate as a role model at such a show?

Is Michael Jackson, the American, needed to legitimize our original musical-cultural artform as if it cannot stand on its own?

(b) why is "soca Elvis" an integral feature at calypso shows? Is Elvis Presley, the American, needed to legitimize our original musical-cultural artform as if it cannot stand on its own?

Elvis Presley, a Euro-American, died from a drug overdose. Elvis Presley never liked Black people and is reported to have once said that the only thing a black person can do for him is to shine his shoes, period.

Is this the kind of person Trinbagonians want to reward and celebrate as a role model at these shows?

(c) why is "KC the James Brown of Soca" an integral feature at calypso shows? Is James Brown, the American, needed to legitimize our original musical-cultural artform as if it cannot stand on its own?

James Brown, the American, pleaded "guilty" to alleged domestic violence charges in June 2004.

The nub of the issue is this: are the organizers and promoters who put on these shows sending the message that Trinbagonians' musical-cultural artform embraces enmity, negativity, violence and illegality?

Dimanche Gras and calypso shows do not need these American props in any form or fashion. Trinbagonians must regain, maintain and consolidate our original, unique and authentic musical-cultural artform. TnT's cultural artform does not need to be diversified nor Americanised. To do so is to bastardise our cultural existence as a proud, historical people.

TnT must cease being an American cultural "pimper's paradise". Trinbagonians must also cease being ever-willing pipers, junkies, addicts and robots of American culture and way of life.

In the cultural arena, then, what Trinbagonians have done is to successfully kick out the Euro- British colonizer and to successfully let in the Euro-American re-coloniser.

"Dis is crazyness" at its insane cultural zenith.

The bottom-line is that the Euro-American re-coloniser now controls the mind and thought-process of the average Trinbagonian, particularly the African-Trinbagonian, to manipulate which every way he so wants to ---- the "mere string" controlling mechanism is alive and kicking among this segment of TnT's population to the nth destructive degree.

Physical slavery was abolished in August 1834-38; however, mental-psychological-scientific slavery and cultural mantacide now exist among this population. Historical, cultural dis-location is the brand this population wears/displays on its mind--- in word and in deed.

Truth be Told: If any public policy prescription is to be effective in denting, combating and challenging the spate of violence in TnT, then it must be tailored not only to win over the heart, mind, values and real life choices of young Trinbagonians but also more importantly, to detour them from a subconscious magnetic mind-set for instant gratification by any and all means necessary and to "get rich or die trying" a la American "50 cent philosophy."

Truth be Told: TnT retrolifemania must be an essential plank in any such policy-decision to eradicate violence from the landscape of our daily life. We were once "poor and polite" now we are rich and impolite. Something is wrong!.

The fact of the matter is that there has been a massive erosion in all the "social structures" and human value-spirit in TnT. As such, the only conclusion that can be drawn is that the current anatomy of violence in TnT is simply just a case of the violent chickens have finally come home to roost as a result of this decades-old erosion, neglect and most important, denial.

Public policy must be conceptualized , formulated and implemented to de-toxify, de- mystify, de-brainwash and de-Americanise the subconscious mind of Trinbagonians away from alien values and way of life. The " mere string" must be totally destroyed.

Public policy must seek to take back the mind of the average Trinbagonian from America.

On the flip side, it is insane for educated, mature adults to disrespect each other in Parliament on national TV and then for the Ministry of Education to hold "conflict resolution" sessions for young children in schools. "Dis is crazyness."

If Trinbagonians are serious about fixing and eliminating violence, then, the first thing to do is to fix the nation's home.

Let respect begin at Home; as such, what should be done is for elected and appointed members of both Houses of Parliament to take a public "Oath of Conduct" among themselves at the beginning of the new Parliamentary sitting.

This Oath taking must be done "live" on TV for all citizens, especially children and young people, to see and internalize.

In the very same way, individual members take an Oath of Office at the President's residence upon the assumption of public office/duty, the afore- mentioned is just a collective Oath of Respect taken in Parliament in the pursuance of public duty.

The fact of the matter is that it is absurdly unconscionable for the government to impose a "code of ethics" on "radio stations that hold national licenses" and those who "fail to provide a national service could have them revoked" effective June 2005. It seems only logical, sane and civil for this same government to invoke this parliamentary "Oath of Conduct" which would regulate the public behaviour of all parliamentarians of every elk and those who violate this public trust, then the Privilege Committee of Parliament "would crack down on them" and even remove them from this august Chamber for the public good. The control/regulation of public responsibility and parliamentary decorum must not be bias, one-sided nor discriminatory; what is good for the small goose must be also good for the big gander. No exceptions! The government just cannot and must not, have it both ways.

In view of the current spate of crime and violence in TnT, it is vital for all elected and appointed adults to show the nation's young that they can disagree but still maintain and show utmost respect to and for each other in the process.

Parliamentarians must be the respectful role models for our young people.

Respect must begin among adults in Parliament so that it can trickle down among other adults in society, among administrators/teachers/students in schools and mong all Trinbagonians at large.

Ergo, the new motto in Parliament should be: "Agree to disagree with respect".

In the final analysis, fighting violence is not a two-way street---PNM vs UNC.

Violence is an all-inclusive, intractable problem but solvable task.

As the Afrikan proverb admonishes: "when the right hand washes the left and the left hand washes the right, then both hands will be clean.

Let us all Trinbagonians wash all hands on deck and be conjoined in this mammoth effort to make TnT a crime/violence free zone.

Violence has a human face not a legislative baton or gravel, by fiat.

Truth be Told: In order to solve the crisis of multi-faceted crime and violence, first and foremost, TnT and its citizens must cease functioning as a United States socio-cultural Trusteeship, 24-7-365.

It is in this specific regard that National Security Minister Martin Joseph hits the nail directly on the head when he admonishes; "We have to take our country back" - back from the gnawing jaws of the displicable, horrid and insidious American way of life and being, period.

This must be the first step; case closed, end of discussion.

Shen Hotep ("I go in peace").

( Dr. Nantambu , who now lives permanently in TnT, is Professor Emeritus at Kent State University, U.S.A. His e-mail address is: kwame@tstt.net.tt).

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