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JUST WHEN you think Trinidad can’t out-Trinidad itself any farther, Roodilal “Rood-Boy” Moonilal (who usually takes the most uppity position in the Opposition) drops a bombshell in the House of Representatives allegedly connecting Prime Minister Keith Rowley to thievery at Petrotrin.It’s all an embarrassing mess, of course… but there’s a real delight for the aficionado of irony in there being a possibly bogus email at the bottom of Rood-Boy’s defamatory accusation because the last time a Parliamentarian was accused of bringing the House into odium by maliciously promoting a possibly bogus email, it was none other than… wait for it… Keith Rowley himself!
Betty-goaty; as they say in Tobago.
Now, on a personal level, or as much of a personal level as one can reach with a public figure, I like Keith Rowley; I like that he’s brash, that he’s given to blue language when blue-vexed, that he hasn’t got fat on the cocktail party circuit and – and this truly could be called, “real head” – I like his haircut.
I’d really like to believe that he wouldn’t rip us all off.
But that doesn’t mean I, or anyone, can dismiss what the old Rood-Boy so irresponsibly said under the old cloak of Parliamentary privilege.
The truth is, there is now nothing you can’t imagine taking place in Trinidad & Tobago, no matter how unlikely it might seem.
If, 30 years ago, you’d said that young men in Trinidad’s less-well-off areas would today be playing “police-and-thief” using real bullets, nobody would have believed you: Trini men loved life, or at least bumcee, too much to throw it all away for some dubious firetrucking “rank” – and, sometimes, only 24 hours of that rank, too, when they shoot someone dead today and are themselves murdered in reprisal tomorrow.
If you’d said, perhaps even 25 years ago, that Tobagonians would let their kitchen-gardens return to bush and go and buy food in plastic and tin from a grocery, Trinis would have laughed: they knew that, when you holidayed for two weeks in Tobago, you had to buy and pack all your food in Trinidad, because Tobagonians reared whatever food they needed, from sweet potato to yard fowl, at home.
If you’d said, 30 years ago, that people would be shot dead in rum shops in broad daylight by men who didn’t even bother to wear a mask, so sure were they that no one would identify them to police – or that policemen would be renting guns to criminals and taking part in kidnappings, the average Trini would shake their heads, “Uh-uh”, because police officers, including constables, were the only non-professionals allowed to authenticate passport pictures.
If you’d said, even 20 years ago, that people who couldn’t string a single sentence of Standard Caribbean English together would be hosting radio call-in shows, even Billy Reece, the Bad Lad from Trinidad, would have laughed in your face.
Look at us now.
Of course, all those examples are considerably more unlikely than a PNM politician – even a prime minister – being corrupt; a PNM person stealing from the state is about as unlikely as Courtney Walsh being out for duck, or Donald Trump telling an outrageous lie, or a Trinidadian Government adopting, as policy, the same thing they’d ridiculed in Opposition, whether a smelter or a highway.
So how, beyond the extended state of shock we’ve all been in from around 1990, is the ordinary person supposed to react to the behaviour of what are supposed to be the exemplars in Trinidad this week?
(And how is anyone beyond our little shores supposed to take Trinidad & Tobago seriously when the truest statement ever made about our politics was the title of Explainer’s calypso, “In Parliament They Kicksin’”?)
But we all already know that, apart from a handful of people – the Raffique Shahs, the Terrence Farrells, the Martin Dalys (who may be silenced, as commentator, by being retained as counsel) – the response is going to match the “exposé”: the brain-dead talk shows will condemn vociferously without either thought or evidence either Moonilal or Rowley of being dastardly/corrupt, according to their races; the police, under Commissioner Gary “New Uniform, Same Old Same Old” Griffith, will mount an investigation that will amount to naught; the common man will turn more desperately to rum/church/despair/refugee status in Canada.
And the people who run the whole show will be chatting, over expensive blended scotch, the niceties of how you run your business in Trinidad from a fourth-floor apartment – to beat the hurricane floods – in Miami.BC Pires is turning and turning in the widening gyre because, soon, there will be no one who can tell the falcon cannot hear the falconer