ROSE Hill RC Primary School is the first ‘big school’ I attended 60 years ago. It was about half a mile from my home on Quarry Street.
One day, a man chased another through the schoolyard with a cutlass, and I couldn’t wait to tell this story to my mother when I got home. Her immediate response was, ‘Ah moving yuh from dey!’ My next clear memory is wearing the Nelson Street Girls’ blue uniform and walking two miles to and from school.
The recent story about gunshots in the neighbourhood of Rose Hill RC brought back this memory, and I asked: ‘What has changed in 60 years?’ The weapons are no longer cutlasses but now AK-47s, and both sides in the argument are well-armed. My mother’s response was to find a way to escape the reality of the environment and move her child to what she felt was a safer environment.
About 50 years later, Despers Steel Orchestra, ‘The pride of Laventille’, ran away from their home of more than 60 years to find safety away from gun violence. Over the years, families have abandoned the area in search of safety and security but many residents have no option and no support to transform it, so they remain and survive as best as possible. This is no longer the exclusive narrative of Laventille; there are many ‘Laventilles’ all over the country.
It is time for us to accept that our country is on a slippery path toward total collapse. Unfortunately, accepting this narrative means acknowledging that not only are our country’s systems broken but that this occurred because the execution of our responsibilities for managing our country has been lazy or even absent. We have given one political party a free hand to preside over that destructive process for more than two-thirds of our life as an independent nation. Our brokenness may also be seen as an opportunity to change the way we do business. Maybe the time has come for our country to seek outside help to de-escalate the mindset behind the gun violence which is killing us. About 20 years ago, the country of Colombia was known for drugs and guns, and with the help of the United States, they were able to transform their country. If a country like Colombia can reach out for help, why can’t we?
Asking for help is not a sign of weakness; sometimes, it is the bravest move you can make.