The Pottery Barn rule created by columnist Thomas L Friedman and made popular by Colin Powell is that you can not run away from what you own. If you break a fragile item while shopping in the Pottery Barn store, you have to pay for it.
America spent decades in Afghanistan and then the other day ran out in a scramble, with people hanging on the wheels of planes on the runway. Run away from their mess.
The problem with the PNM is that it feels no ownership for Laventille, or East Dry River, Sea Lots, or indeed for the Corridor in general – except during election time, when we hear them on the street, speakers roaring, to the lavway “Manning Post”. She wants Manning Post! She wants Manning Post!
Most of the problems with crime and youth malaise, which we see in the country, are traceable to PNM constituencies, especially the East-West corridor. The people in these communities vote for PNM in thick and in thin. In 1986, when the PNM won just three seats in the election, Laventille produced one. And yet, when it’s time to abolish these constituencies, the PNM turns their backs and swears the people there, as if to call them poor parents.
Now it’s Rowley’s turn, with Manning dead. Rowley says parenting is the problem. So, parenting is the reason why no one who does not live in East Dry River dares to ride up the hill. It’s poor parenting that caused Desperadoes to abandon their iconic panyard a decade ago, to be moved from space to space in Port of Spain every year away from their real home, which is a quarter of a mile from where I was born , is located.
But is the answer poor parenting, or is it not PNM neglect and abandonment while focusing on projects like Chinatown? I’ve been looking at the hills of East Dry River lately as I drive past Port of Spain, and more recently as I drove past the Foreshore heading west to Diego Martin, and all I see when I look for housing has fallen into disrepair. I was born on Laventille Hill, where my mother had her shack. In the 1960s, I lived with her for a time in Waterhole, Cocorite, where she built a shack, and moved there. And Cocorite remains the same today as it was then. People are being killed there with impunity. I have not gone up Laventille since 1990.
In 1965, Earl Lovelace wrote the award-winning book, While Gods Are Falling. It was a lament about Laventille, a place God apparently forgot. He contrasted the insecure huts up the hill with the communities below – places like Woodbrook and Cascade, with their manicured lawns and shrubs – and wondered why God had turned His back on people up the hill. Now that we have the PNM turning their backs, Rowley blames the people for poor parenting skills. But Lovelace wrote in 1965, and here we are in 2022, 57 years later, and the PNM has since won every election there, and the place continues to feast. In the 1960s, you could go up the Hill at night to Despers’ panyard to hear them rehearse. I have not done this since 1989.
Desperate can not practice up there. They were expelled.
The Prime Minister says: “Something is happening between our nine- and ten-year-olds and our 17-year-olds that is causing our society to be what it is.”
Well, Mr Prime Minister, according to our Constitution, it seems to me to be the age of compulsory schooling.
The options are good schools or the Remand Yard, Mr Prime Minister.
The recent Senate report, entitled “… Underperformance of schools in the Port of Spain and Environment District in terms of performance in terminal examinations”, found only carnage. Almost all the denominational schools were under academic supervision. No learning takes place with them. No academic pulse to feel. The most important building on Laventille Hill is the Fatima Church. But the Catholics built Servol, in the la basse for the children of East Dry River.
Black people kids, say what! No CIC, Fatima, Holy Name or St Joseph’s Convent for them.
I wrote about the need for a Laventille Renaissance, driven by trade. Lavender people should not cross the Dry River to get their basic needs met. If a purposeful effort is made, Laventille people should be able to get everything they need, from hop bread to galvanizing, to shoes, to clothing, together. The PNM should have ideas for the people. Urban renewal. What about Black People Town, now that we have Chinatown?
I think PNM takes the automatic Corridor voice for granted. But in 2010, people voted for the Partnership. So it does not have to be automatic. People in the hallway need to talk to the PNM.
As far as schooling is concerned, based on the Senate report, there is an urgent need for a complete overhaul of education in Laventille and on the Corridor. It should start with foundations with good preschools for all children up to the age of three. The goal should be to get all children to read at five. I think new arrangements need to be made for the management of schools. The denominational schools in East Dry River, and on the Corridor as a whole, are hopeless. New arrangements are needed that can be community-based. Catholics and Anglicans have taken their course and must be removed from the school function. They are hopeless. I think new community-based arrangements for schooling are needed.
Many of us will help with this.
I think there is a need for an urban renewal project aimed at refurbishing housing from Port of Spain back to the Hills of Cocorite. It can create jobs, with no concessions to gangsters.
The PNM must stop calling black people names or saying they are not good parents. PNM must possess the problems of their constituents.