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Is there hope for T&T?
Having written in my last letter of the inevitability of corrupt politicians continuing in office ad infinitum because of a politics of profit both for “leaders” and supporters, sustained by the phenomenon of mindless tribal voting, the question to ask is whether there is hope for this beautiful country where merit can be king/queen and every creed and race truly find an equal place. For this is a beautiful country blessed with natural resources which have sustained us, with the “flaming poinciana and shady immortelle” lighting up our landscape, with Maracas and Chag for all to enjoy, and most of all with a people, although succumbing in their humanity to the benefits of tribal voting sown by slimy politicians, never degenerating into the open racial conflict of Bosnia, or the one-time apartheid of South Africa, or that of the American South, or the Shia/Sunni divide tearing tribes apart in the Middle East.
Our people just need a political hand up, not a handout, to allow that underlying fragile togetherness to be forged into a truly integrated society which becomes the pattern of our existence and not a mere hollow sound bite, and that equal opportunity for all will become our permanent mantra and not a mere password. That longing for unity was heralded in by the COP of 1986, 33-3, tearing down the political domination enjoyed by one political entity engendered by the old system of tribal voting, and giving hope for a united people no longer susceptible to leaders who would divide us for their own gain in exchange for a “mess of pottage,” and again in 2010, when disparate elements would come together in a makeshift togetherness. But again, the self would seek to sustain itself by falling prey to the politics of the tribe, and here we are again.
Will we ever as a people break free of this self-imposed subordination generated by our present system of racial politics? The chief culprit in this continuing scenario is not the politicians but the people. But politicians can only become wolves if we are sheep, and they can only seduce us in their drive for power only if we continue to salivate over the possible rewards of patronage. And the pull here is formidable, for who would not want to become a millionaire overnight because of such patronage. Many of us in our penchant to serve ourselves can’t, because the character which would have scoffed at such shamelessness was never allowed to grow in us and we continue to feed off the trough that is conveniently placed before us.
DR ERROL BENJAMIN
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