THE CONTRADICTIONS of our nation seemed most evident over the weekend. The exuberance of steel pan, the colour, charisma and creativity of Children’s Carnival, the enthusiastic imbibing of our chutney soca – all stood in sharp contrast to the distressing news surrounding crime, in which about a dozen people were killed, among them five individuals who succumbed to the exercise of lethal force by the police and one girl murdered by her own father. It was the best of times, the worst of times.
The Carnival season is normally accompanied by an upsurge in crime. Police have learned to expect that some people, desperate to be a part of Carnival activities, resort to crime in an effort to gather money quickly. And yet the complexion of the violence has compounded the awfulness of the deeds. In one instance, people were liming at a private estate. In another, an entire family was subject to a home invasion. The message: nowhere, not even the sanctuary of one’s home, is sacred.
Four of the gruesome discoveries over the weekend involved seeming mysteries in the middle of communities that might know better. These matters must now be unravelled by the police. In one, a man and woman were found in a car. In another, a woman lay at the side of the road. In another, a man was found near a river. And in yet another, a man was found off Lady Chancellor Hill.
While not densely populated, most of these discoveries occurred in places that are not completely isolated. For example, the hill is regularly frequented by joggers.
Dismaying is the possibility that the high energy of the season, in which focus and attention turn to protecting mass gatherings, events, and fetes, is turning into a useful cover for those who wish to carry out nefarious deeds while the police are looking elsewhere. That cannot be allowed.
But if we think we can spread the reach of policing, cases like the murder of eight-year-old Mukeisha Maynard, beaten to death with a cutlass by her own father because she had urinated on a mattress, show us the limits of State oversight. We need to police ourselves and our communities.
And yet we turn, as we do this time of year, to the light.
We congratulate Chutney Soca Monarch winner GI on his victory. The touching story of how music helped him overcome the trauma of losing his father at an early age is instructive: a reminder of the power of our culture in all its shapes and forms.
We also congratulate BP Renegades for topping the Panorama semifinals. Playing Skinny Banton’s Wrong Again, the Charlotte Street, Port of Spain band served up a love-letter to its weary home city, filling the Queen’s Park Savannah with Duvone Stewart’s hypnotic arrangement. It was a performance that was well appreciated by the audience, amid all the troubles.