Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : December 4th 2014 Contents PETER MINSHALL
Alas and alack, prayers and
paw paw leaf juice are use-
less. Like so many others, I
am dealing with an abundance of
aches and pains, in my joints
especially, this being the enduring
aftermath of the dreaded chikun-
gunya virus. They say ChikV can
linger for as long as two years
after its initial onslaught.
Interesting, how "progress"
delivers this nasty little hitherto
unknown virus to wreak lasting
havoc amongst unsuspecting us,
after centuries of invulnerability,
thanks to the vast oceans that
have kept us safe and apart since
the beginning of time.
Now we are sickening from
African mosquito bites delivered
to our doorstep by high-flying
aeroplanes. Imagine that. Next,
Ebola. It is only a matter of time.
We are totally unprepared. We
are falling like flies into moderni-
ty.Ah, such ignorant island rabble,
to be aroused by the arrant idea
that human progress is measured
solely by high-flying planes,
high-rises, highways and such.
By technology, to put it bluntly.
One would have hoped that 9/11
might have put a quick stop to
such quaint, deceptive notions of
progress. In a single morning on
a bright blue day, high-rising
skyscrapers and high-flying
planes made New York more dis-
aster-prone and mythical than
ancient Troy with its legendary
Trojan Horse. Perish the hope.
It is technology, cheap petrol
and too many cars, that has us
indolent islanders at a traffic
It is called lack of planning. It
is marked by the loss of good
old-fashioned human savvy. In
the name of progress, the Prime
Minister and her powers that be
would thoughtlessly slap a gigan-
tic slab of pitch and concrete
down on a very small island, like
a big strip of Elastoplast, to solve
the self-created challenge of con-
temporary human mobility.
They do this with the same
unquestioning ease that the for-
mer Prime Minister put Napa
down by the Savannah to save
our theatre arts. The Savannah
shall never be the same again!
And heaven help our theatre arts!
What a disaster Napa is, an 18th-
century opera house interior her-
metically sealed in a cluster of
igloos that look like a great nest
of copulating slugs. What mad-
ness! Napa is a big, callous, trag-
Yes, Napa is very big. It is big,
cold and ugly. It is repugnant,
and utterly un-Caribbean. It is
lifeless. Nothing happens there. It
is a mausoleum. It is a dead
Island people might therefore
be wary of a blind, unthinking
addiction to highways. Let us see
and think clearly. Highways are
very big roads, with billboards on
both sides, that take you from
here to there.
Nothing happens in between,
no community, no parlours, no
rumshops, no street corners, no
liming, no life. No growth what-
soever. Not one single village or
town sprouts up on the way.
Dead space. Miles of it.
Who wants to live next door to
a highway? Steups.
Ironically, we would destroy
humane homegrown life, over
100 years in the making, the very
core essence of the who-we-are,
to make way for a highway. We
do not consciously seek to mod-
erate or reinterpret gargantuan
continental modernity to accom-
modate the innate needs and
nature of our very selves and our
We do need highways. But we
need much more than that. Do is
not overdo. We also need
byways. We need balance. We
need a cohesive plan. We need a
cohesive society. We need to
think. We need to talk. We need
to get together. We need to com-
municate. We need to connect.
We need to listen to each other.
We need to find our solutions to
our problems. We need more
than anything to be who we are.
We are a beautiful island people.
We need to be true to our own
That is the biggest challenge
we face in the relentless advance
of technology---when everybody
else wants to buy us out, to own
us: the ability to maintain our
very being, to hold on to the
who-we-are as a people. Lust for
power and love for money are
ancient universal sins. But greed
and technology are a dangerous
contemporary Mancrab mix. We
are its prime prey. Beware. It will
eat us up.
Alas and alack, small-island
people have developed this viral
self-destructive bias, a cultural
ChikV in reverse, this bad habit
of going abroad and shopping for
stuff in big countries, expensive
merchandise, so as to bring back
home an impressive sense of
style and progress from away, a
sense of imported, imploded self-
importance that is reassuringly
Big with a capital B.
This is a mind-sickening con-
tamination. The demeaning
mindset is that we are just too
small and insignificant on our
own to be of any worth at all.
This is so very sad. It is heart-
breaking. Would that we could
come to our senses and cure
ourselves of such destructive
inbred insecurity and self-con-
tempt. Small is beautiful. Yes.
And, yes again. We are a beauti-
ful island people.
We just don t get it though, do
Indeed, the bigger we get, the
smaller we seem to become. The
megalomaniacal tendencies of
island people in power, prime
ministers in particular, never
cease to astonish and amaze.
They become such cultural illiter-
ates, and so proud of it. They
pave paradise to put up a parking
Thursday, December 4, 2014 www.guardian.co.tt Guardian
A CASE OF HIGHWAY CHIKUNGUNYA
We do need highways. But we need much more than that. Do is not overdo. We also need
byways. We need balance. We need a cohesive plan. We need a cohesive society. We need to
think. We need to talk. We need to get together. We need to communicate. We need to connect. We
need to listen to each other. We need to find our solutions to our problems. We need
more than anything to be who we are. We are a beautiful island people. We need to be
true to our own selves.
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