Waiting for the Flood

If you wan go wash – water you go use
If you wan cook soup- water you go use
If your head be hot – water it cool am
If your child dey grow – water you go use
If water kill your child – water you go use
Nothing without water
Water it no get enemy
No go fight am, unless you wan die

Water No Get Enemy, Fela Anikulapo Kuti

The first time I heard Fela Kuti’s Water No Get Enemy when I was somewhat of a grown-up, something clicked inside my head and I spent a whole year walking around Babylon-don whistling it.  It’s one of those endless Fela songs with one verse and so much music, that moves between funk and jazz and happy and dread and although you want to dance, you also want to start a revolution. 

The message is obvious, water is the source of life, we are nothing without water.  The subtext that I later read about likens the people of Nigeria the common masses, as water to the politicians that they put in power.  The politicians are nothing without the people, in the same way that all of us are nothing without water.  If you fight water, you will die.

An important lesson to remember on this weekend of swells that only surfers should dare to try and conquer.  On this weekend when we remember the man who walked on water two thousand years ago.

On this weekend when spring comes in a joyous outpouring of colour, in clouds of abeer and chowtal singing. 

Today is also World Day for Water and I wonder if my dear friends at the EMA are concerned about how we are nothing without it.

I’ve been thinking about water a lot these days. How living on a small island preconditions you to take it for granted.  How much I love a long cool shower at the end of a hot day.  How many people in Trinidad still don’t have access to that luxury. 

I’ve also been thinking about how somebody last year mysteriously removed quarrying from the list of industries that require a Certificate of Environmental Clearance.

Because of course it makes sense to undermine our main source of clean water, in return for more buildings.  It makes sense, doesn’t it, to sacrifice the Northern Range that regulates run off and retention of water.

The thirty five water sheds in the Northern Range and five major aquifer systems mean less to us than quarries for a few companies to benefit.  Never mind that the Northern Range, according to what the professionals say, provides something like 80 per cent of the country’s water needs, including the millions of gallons that get wasted, and the millions of gallons that supply the heavy gas based industries, but can’t somehow find their way into people’s houses.

And I wonder where the management is, where the protection is.  Who is defending us from ourselves, those of us who like to dump our fridges in rivers.  Who is defending  us from ourselves, those of us who like to dump our toxic chemicals in our rivers.  Who is defending us from ourselves, those of us who think that it’s okay to undermine our natural resources, like fresh water is a renewable resource if you take away the things that renew it?

Water no get enemy, indeed.   We are nothing without water, Fela sings in my head as I watch quarry scars on my hills get bigger.  Now that you don’t need a CEC for a quarry up to 149 acres in size, I wonder how much more of us will be reduced to nothingness.

The people are water, polluted, dumped on, taken for granted.

On this day of water, I’m wondering when the water gets damn vex and turns into an almighty flood.

One thought on “Waiting for the Flood

  1. So true!! We have been seeing the floods, unfortunately…..I also wanted to say that I love your connection with Fela Kuti…..I also have my Fela Kuti song story….but with the song “Teacher…doh teach me nonsense”. Thanks for your beautiful words….

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