Jul 07, 2017
If there is anything I have learnt in my long years in media functions is that governmental leaders from top to bottom have a deterministic conceptualization of journalism – it is to be used in the service of power, and if it does not serve that purpose, then leaders have no use for journalists.
Media operatives on the other hand, have to carry out what is essentially their obligation – to report and comment without fictionalization and malice. A journalist and a columnist have obligation to country, not government. Governments come and go; governments do bad things, but countries remain.
I owe my readers who have stuck with this column for twenty-three years an obligation to present my analyses from the viewpoint of what is inside my head, not what is inside the corridors of power. My readers expect me to express a heartfelt opinion on things in my country; not to please President, Prime Minister and Ministers. The day I am prevented from expressing in these articles what is inside my mind and publish what is inside the minds of governmental leaders, I will retire to my family and my pets, and that would be the end of my media career.
There is another lesson to be learnt from the corridors of power. The power elite want you, in the media, to acknowledge that they are knowledgeable about politics and intellectually smart. When you find them wanting in these departments and you write about their failings, they get vicious. Once you point out their mistakes they get nasty. But all media operatives know that such comes with the territory.
What I am about to expound on in the following is partially derived from the horrible deaths that came out of our prison uprising. Not even in perennially violent Jamaica have so many inmates died in a prison rebellion. At the risk of invoking the wrath of President Granger, Prime Minister Nagamootoo (who often boasts about his forty-odd years in politics), and their ministers, I do not believe anyone among the group has the intellectual capacity to internalize the causes and lessons to be learnt from that prison rebellion.
That prison mayhem has roots that go way into the hopelessness of youths in this country; the cruel ways the judicial system treats them, particularly the magistracy, and the unbearable hypocrisy in the corridors of power that triggers extensive anger in our youth population.
This columnist will not and will never argue in any way that could offer sympathy for those three bank robbers or condone what they did. But despite our revulsion at what they did, social mayhems have underlying causes. My opinion is that youths feel that the status quo is class-based, unjust and sadistic and it will lead them to do “not so nice things.”
Do you think there isn’t volcanic passion waiting to find an outlet over the constant denial of bail youths from low income communities endure for small possessions of ganja, but two accused were given bail on appeal from the High Court (which entails more fees for the lawyer presenting the bail petition) for charges of possession of 187 pounds of cocaine (work out how much grams that is)?
Magistrates are devastating the youth population from working class families with unreasonable jail terms and putting them on remand with excessive bail assignments. Yet against the backdrop of the prison riots, the corridors of power are unmoved. They are unconcerned because they do not have the capacity to link the following – youth frustration, judicial sadism, the prison uprising and the bank robbery. They are connected, but mundane minds cannot see that, and there are too many mediocre souls in the corridors of power.
A very powerful minister told the media he doesn’t like to comment on magistrates’ decisions, but he couldn’t help reacting to what Magistrate McLennan did when she read in open court the application from SOCU for a search warrant for Anil Nandlall’s home. He chose that occasion to comment on the action of a magistrate, but not all those other controversial decisions of so many magistrates that have led to an unstable situation in the prison population in Guyana.
The minister chose his priority. I am choosing mine as an opinion-maker, and my view is that if we continue to treat our youths so contemptuously, we may invite an outburst of a violently ugly emotion that can have tragic consequences. Power people in this country are so ignorant that they wait until disaster happens then to act. But maybe it is not only ignorance, but an empty mind at work too.