The day they came

Ah say we forge from the fire

And together we aspire

Just to take this damn ting higher

In this quest we never fail

Never falter never tire

Never sacrifice yuh freedom

Fire fire in yuh wire

 

We free

We free

No no nobody cah hold we

We Free, 3 Canal

They came for us. To teach us a lesson. That in this land of mimic men we never deviate from the regularly scheduled programme of lies, damn lies and skin teet. They came because they assumed we didn’t know the law. That we wouldn’t know that the UNC government repealed the law banning the playing of drums in public in 2002.

They came because they understand that when people start to agitate culturally, when the drummers and the dancers and the singers and the painters start to get blasted vex, then they have a problem. They came because they are afraid that their mask is falling. Cracking under the pressure of their endless fake smiling. Cracking like their Beetham wall of shame that now has earned them international media attention. They came because they don’t realise that the more you deny people a voice is the more they will find reasons to shout.

They came because they believe the hype that Trinis are docile. Trinis don’t like confrontation. They came for Michael because in this country young black men should be on street corners holding their testicles. They can’t compute a young man passionate about the environment. Because idleness is putting up a poster to ask questions about their Summit wastage and this is a far worse disservice to the society than advertising a short pants party.
They came for Auntie Verna because she looks like she should be a government supporter. Because women her age must stay home and mind their grandchildren. Stay home and pray and cook and watch television.

And then beat their breasts and wonder why the country is the way it is. They came for Wendell and Roger because artists must sing and dance only when instructed to. Because artists are not required to have a social conscience or a connection to the people. They came for Norris because farmers must mind their business and not consider that food security is a national concern. They came for Shivonne because good Indian girls must stay home and keep quiet. Must not have opinions.

There were children there. Children playing drums. Children being children. Children that could be mine. They came for them too. To send a message to the next generation that social activism is not acceptable. That having an emotional investment in your country is not an option. That resistance is futile, although everything about this place screams defiance. Everything about this place shouts loud that somebody was willing to sacrifice and put their life on the line so that we could prosper.

They came because they thought we would be so awed by their guns and their tear gas canisters that we would retreat. They came for you too. To remind you who is boss. To show you that your voice means nothing. Your life even less. They came to warn you not to get any ideas. To kill your fighting spirit just as you need it more than ever. They came to aim at your dreams. To trample your children under their government boots. They came because they know you are dissatisfied and disgruntled and disappointed with the way they are running the country. 

I look them in the eye when they come for me. They are more afraid of us than we of them. They know they are wrong. They came for us because they follow orders. I shout at them because I don’t know what else to do. They are my neighbours and brothers and liming pardners. They are the people I stand in line for doubles with. That I support the West Indies cricket team with. That I weep for dead children with. Shivonne makes one of them cry. His eyes fill with water. His eyes shine with shame and pain from behind the plastic shield.

They dress back because they know that this battle is not a righteous one. They dress back because, regardless of automatic weapons and tear gas, they have no protection against their own intense sadness and pain at the state of this place. There is no difference between us and them. There is no line that separates their pain from ours. They come for us but cannot complete their mission. And it is the people who teach them a lesson. That in this place sometimes the people win. And power is not about weapons and they haven’t made a gun yet to kill ideas.

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Build your great wall

I asked the policeman and said
How much must I pay for my freedom?
He said to me, son
They won’ t build no schools anymore
They won’ t build no hospitals
All they’ ll build will be prison, prison
Prisoner, Lucky Dube

Build your wall high.  Build it high and mighty like your dreams to be better.  Build your wall and adorn it with barbed wire, steel teeth to stab the sky.
Build a wall around your failures, like you paint circles around potholes.  So that people know that it’s there and that you’re not doing something about it.
Build it higher than your determination to be more than just a random collection of shacks. Build it higher than the shame you feel about your black skin that makes you look like one of those lesser people.
Build it for your protection.  Build it to protect you from yourself.  Build it because this is us and them time.  This is after we is weevil time.  This is survival of the fittest time and concrete blocks is the way to solve the problems of the people who give you power every five years. Every five years, for fifty years.  Build the wall and lock it and throw away the key. Throw it far, but not too far.  Throw it so that you can find it in another five years when you need to
Sentence them to five years behind the wall, because Golden Grove is not wall enough and Royal Gaol is not wall enough.  And the La Basse’s pollution is not wall enough.
And after the five years of neglect, remember them behind the wall.  Take all the buses and all the rum and all the roti and make them jump and wave for your glory.  And then send them back behind the wall again with full bellies full of nothing and minds full of your eloquent promises.
Forget proper drainage.  Forget penalizing the polluting industries.  Forget regulating the waste that goes into the dump or at least legislating on the proper disposal or recycling of plastics or electronic waste.
Build your wall because this is the best plaster for this huge, massive, festering, pus-filled sore of a community.
Build it and they will sing your praises, because yours is the only name they know and the only one that matters.
Build it to show the world how forward thinking you are.  Show the world that even Third World people can be hateful and suspicious and racist.  Build it and show that colour is no reason for solidarity or sympathy or interest in consultation for the creating of solutions.  Build it weak like the levees in Lousiana.   And when the storms come and the people start to try to escape, maybe you’ll also have people waiting to shoot them as they try to break free of your wall.
Better build it so that they cannot escape.  Build it better than the mind walls you build when they’re in your failing education system.  Build it better than the walls in their minds that keep youth men on the blocks, their anger looking for any opportunity to manifest and young girls desperate for somebody to mind them.
Build it so that you can escape to your fantasies of civilization borne out of your obsession to be less like yourself whoever it is that you are.  Build it like you built your own palace as a statement to your absolute contempt for babies dying in under-equipped, inefficiently run hospitals.  Build it so that you cannot hear their children wheeze or see their young men’s eyes glaze more with anger.
Build it because they are the problem to which you have no solution.
Make it soundproof, to block out the sounds of gunshots, the sounds of defeat, the sounds of self-hate ricocheting off walls, bubbling in foetid drains full of someone else’s waste.
But most of all build it politician proof, so that they can escape the poisonous tongues more dangerous than any of the dump’s most noxious emissions.
Build walls because, yes, this is what the nation needs.  More division.  Physical separation.  A wall, because even poor people deserve to live in a gated community.  Like the rich ones who can only be safe behind their high walls.
Put in a buffer zone. Build back trees to atone for all the others that have been uprooted for progress’ sake. Make it so that we on the outside don’t have to deal with what’s on the inside.
Build it so that we can be even more suspicious and terrified of ourselves and know that them and us will love you for it.