Dr. Kwame Nantambu

Shaq's visit to T&T — Afri-centric Analysis

By Dr. Kwame Nantambu
August 21, 2012

From an Afri-centric perspective, the recent visit by the African-American NBA basketball superstar, Shaquille O'Neal will have the long-term effect of galvanizing and fostering a potent sense of self-confidence, self-esteem and self-worth among the 'disadvantaged' youths in the depressed areas of T&T.

And for this single outcome, kudos should go out to the People's Partnership government for unveiling their "Hoop for Life" anti-crime initiative.

Human success and development should not be only measured in terms of the amount of money spent in any endeavour.

Indeed, it was vital that Shaq was able to instil and imbue in the mind of these "at risk" youths that if he could make, then, anyone can and must. These youths needed to hear this human message.

Similar to these T&T youths, Shaq is a proud product of poverty and ghetto life in New Jersey, USA. However, his salient message was that you may have been born in the ghetto, but you must never let the ghetto live in you. These T&T youths needed to hear this human message.

The record shows that in this regard, Shaq has not only talk the talk but that he has also very successfully walk the walk to the ultimate degree by any measurement criterion. These T&T youths needed to realize this human achievement.

Shaq reiterated, albeit warned the youths that they must never take "no" for an answer — that's not an option in life.

Furthermore, regardless of what critics on all sides of the political spectrum may opine, Shaq's visit to T&T will serve to "keep hope alive" in the subconscious mind of these T&T youths.

The fact of the matter is that these youths did not only get to see/interact with a successful basketball player of immense global stature but they were also drilled in the stark reality that this African-American product of the ghetto now possesses a Doctorate in Education.

It is this three-fold juxtaposition of a ghetto past cum a successful sports career and education/academic supremacy in the present that validates Shaq's visit to T&T.

Another vital Afri-centric message from Shaq's visit was the historical truism that "a people without the knowledge of 'having done' will have grave difficulty acknowledging the motivation of 'can do'".

Dr. Shaquille O'Neal epitomizes this Afri-centric adage.

Or in the historical admonition of Bro. Malcolm X : "The Black man has no self-confidence; he has no confidence in his own race because the white man (European) destroyed you and my past; he destroyed our knowledge of our culture and by having destroyed it, now we don't know of any achievement, any accomplishment and as long as you can be convinced that you never did anything, you can never do anything."

Shaq's visit to T&T solidifies the inner notion to T&T youths that they are a "can do" people and that they can and must accomplish whatever they want in life. These youths needed to be convinced of this human potential.

Shaquille O'Neal's visit has shown T&T youths that he has successfully accomplished this human potential on and off the basketball court. And he also accomplished these human successes despite his ghetto beginnings.

Indeed, Shaq's visit allowed T&T youths to mix brains and brawn for the first time. Shaq proved to them that it is okay to be a "nude"— there's nothing wrong with that.

The salient truism is that crime fighting in T&T is not one-dimensional. It has to be holistic, in the true sense of the word and multi-faceted-pronged. Shaq's visit was just one rung in the ladder whose ultimate goal is to create a crime free T&T. No one size fits all public policy mentality will ever work.

Truth Be Told: Trinidadian-born international Pan-African nationalist Kwame Ture once remarked:"If you don't know who you are, you would not know what your interests are." In the final analysis, Shaq's visit to T&T has convinced the "least of these" in society that they are innate successful human beings with untapped / infinite human potential.

Shem Hotep ("I go in peace").

Dr. Kwame Nantambu is a part-time lecturer at Cipriani College of Labour and Co-operative Studies.

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