Gilkes today beetham, tomorrow…; residents were wrong but there’s a lesson worth learning here – wired868

It was bound to happen. What happened to Minister Fitzgerald Hinds in the Beetham was unfortunate, illegal and disrespectful. But it was all but inevitable, given a whole range of things including our society’s religious refusal to examine ourselves and our past and connect that to our present realities. Photo: Laventille West MP Fitzgerald Hinds (left) is chased out of Beetham Gardens by residents, during a walkabout in the aftermath of flooding on 14 August 2018.

I suspect you all are the ones sitting on certain boards and influential positions in Port of Spain and San Fernando, which is why the political commentary aspect of Ole Mas is slowly being stifled out of existence. Clearly you’ve never observed the things openly said about US presidents going back to Andrew Jackson.


Photo: Former Britain Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.

In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, Vice President Cheney was told on live TV to “go f**k yourself”, Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien collected a whole pie to the face, Saturday Night Live seems to make it a point to skewer Donald Trump weekly and in England—the same England that groomed our colonial minds—even as former prime minister Margaret Thatcher was being buried, dozens of working class people held up signs saying “The b*tch is dead” and “Rot in hell you c**t.”

Yet again, people “of influence” and “concerned citizens” are commenting on the actions and conditions of the Beetham in the same way others before them commented: as if the events of 1919, 1937, 1970 and the reports that were published after each event never happened. Photo: In the run-up to April 21 and the declaration of the state of emergency, large crowds flocked to Port-of-Spain to hear Granger/Daaga and other Black Power leaders hold forth in the University of Woodford Square.

The Beetham area alone was a depressed community in the 1960s if this Sparrow kaiso is any indication. And if it’s the same “La Basse” I read about in David Trotman’s book on crime in 19th century Trinidad, it was a neglected community over a hundred years ago. So, if we’re good at nothing else, we’re really good at denial, deflection and erasure.

Then there are the dirty, filthy habits of most Trinis who routinely clog the drains with everything between a doubles paper and a deep freeze. This goes beyond the Beetham. In fact, a lot of what is found in the Beetham drains come down from the hills and from POS and not necessarily from Beetham residents. This does not even include the effluence—which few talk about—from the industrial centre just north of Beetham Estate. Photo: Police officers clear debris after protests at the Beetham Highway on 23 November 2017.

That many online comments identified the Beetham residents as the ones responsible for all this—and the way many of them phrased the way they held Beetham residents responsible—is exactly why these last few weeks, I’ve been writing about how racist, white supremacist beliefs, theories and policies are zealously carried out by people of colour, right here, since we superficially changed flags in 1962. I guess it’s easier to pin it all on them black hen chicken and bear no responsibility; so hard luck Beetham, allyuh nasty and allyuh look for that.

This also connects to our fetishising of centralisation and what Susan Craig-James once called the threat of (rural) self-reliance. It throws light on an impotent Parliament that essentially revolves around one person: the Governor-General who has been recast as Prime Minister—the late Dr Morgan Job said we’ve simply moved from Picton as Governor-General to the Prime Minister as Picton. Photo: Minister in the Ministry of the Attorney General, Fitzgerald Hinds.

That anger, by the way, is not only found in the Beetham—contrary to what was implied by one text to i95.5 on Thursday morning—but can be found in all the areas cited above and others. Photo: Beetham residents chase Laventille West MP Fitzgerald Hinds and councillor Akil Audain, during a walkabout in the aftermath of flooding on 14 August 2018.

We have to start facing up to the uncomfortable reality that the messiah complex many are still immersed in is as responsible for the Beetham floods as the choked drains. We’re still looking for a saviour among the same people who, since the 19th century, have been using the working underclasses as pawns and convenient footstools to elevate them into power.

He was referring, of course, to those who were privileged to pass through the British school system. His mindset is what has typified the culture of political officials from that period to this one: a coveting of the trappings of power in a European-created structure. Photo: Then Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar (left) shakes hands with her successor, Dr Keith Rowley, en route to Nelson Mandela’s funeral in South Africa.