For how much longer will youth voice be ig­nored?

There are more Skeg­gses and Gee­gas—and they’re not nearly as crazy and self­ish as lo­cal politi­cians on the cam­paign trail!

The Star (St. Lucia) - - FRONT PAGE - By Rick Wayne

Two young men who in­tro­duced them­selves on last Thurs­day’s TALK as Geega and Skeggs ap­pear to have cap­tured the pe­cu­liar imag­i­na­tion of Saint Lu­cians the length and breadth of the coun­try, judg­ing by the re­ac­tion of­fi­cial and oth­er­wise. Over the week­end there was hardly a wa­ter­ing hole or fast-food joint in the is­land’s north where pa­trons did not prof­fer their takes on what my guests had said or were un­der­stood to have said.

In all events, so it has been re­ported to me by in­di­vid­u­als es­pe­cially no­to­ri­ous for their shared abil­ity to be in more than one lo­ca­tion at the same time.

Sud­denly IMPACS, Ju­falli, Chagoury and Arabs bear­ing Looshan pass­ports had been rel­e­gated to the na­tion’s back burner. Never mind the March dead­line handed the prime min­is­ter by the US State Depart­ment and the 28-mem­ber-state EU, the topic du jour con­tin­ues to be my mo­tives for af­ford­ing Messrs Geega and Skeggs the op­por­tu­nity to vent on prime­time TV.

At least one of the govern­ment’s self-ad­ver­tised eru­dite mouth­pieces has gone so far as to sug­gest I was en­cour­ag­ing abused and ne­glected youth to rise and mutiny, to pur­sue vi­o­lent so­lu­tions to their prob­lems, so great was my “ha­tred” for his boss the prime min­is­ter. In­deed, the true and faith­ful ser­vant was kind enough to pub­licly an­nounce the prime min­is­ter’s army of Silly Lit­tle Peo­ple might take it upon them­selves to wash their leader’s pre­sum­ably tar­nished im­age in my blood. (Ev­i­dently the com­bined blood flow from the Chas­tanets is not suf­fi­cient for the clean-up job!)

And then there was the no­to­ri­ous blowhard—an­other bla­tant singer for his sup­per!— who cal­cu­lat­edly ac­cused me of pro­mot­ing the ter­ror­ist group ISIS.

Be­fore their TV de­but Skeggs and Geega had called An­dre Paul’s some­times madding What Makes Me

Mad, ev­i­dently to un­load their psy­chic waste on the host and his saintly au­di­ence. They com­plained bit­terly about the na­tion’s jus­tice sys­tem; about their close rel­a­tives and friends im­pris­oned at Borde­lais for years with­out trial; and oth­ers who had not had even a short­term job since leav­ing school three or four years ago.

They seemed to save most of their venom for the politi­cians, in­cum­bent and op­po­si­tion—all of whom cur­rently are busily en­gaged with per­suad­ing the es­pe­cially gullible to elect or re­elect them to par­lia­ment.

My first ques­tion to Geega: “I heard you twice on An­dre Paul. But tell me again: why are you so an­gry?”

Cos­tumed in black like his fel­low TALK guest but also wear­ing black leather gloves rem­i­nis­cent of 60s-Amer­ica Black Pan­thers, the brow of his green and brown cap cov­er­ing his eyes, Geega com­plained that he could not af­ford life’s “ba­sic ameni­ties.” He said jus­tice had fled the land; as had love.

I was taken aback. I said: “No love? Are you say­ing you are ready to join ISIS just be­cause you feel unloved?”

He shifted ner­vously in his seat. Ear­lier he had re­vealed to me that this would be his first ap­pear­ance on any TV show—and it showed. He tried to ex­plain that the love of which he spoke was not sex­ual. Still I did not get him. I said most Saint Lu­cians would prob­a­bly com­plain about un­re­li­able wa­ter sup­plies, an in­abil­ity to feed and clothe them­selves, un­em­ploy­ment and a feel­ing of be­ing unloved.

Geega was not among the un­em­ployed. He had a job, al­beit “a slave job that paid slave wages.” He com­plained about the in­jus­tice to his friends who had been wait­ing years for owed back pay and sev­er­ance pay, to no avail. Point­less turn­ing to the courts, he re­minded me, the ad­journ­ments were end­less. Be­sides, it cost his job­less friends more than they could get their hands on just to get from their homes to court. And then only to be given an­other hear­ing date, for the hun­dredth time.

Skeggs echoed much of what Geega had said. The one-man op­er­a­tor of a driv­ing school, he and I had met quite by ac­ci­dent a year or so ear­lier. He had ar­rested my at­ten­tion as I drove be­hind his ve­hi­cle, headed north. I ac­tu­ally honked him to pull up at the road­side. Then I asked him about his bumper sticker that read: “I Am Not Vot­ing.”

We talked for a few min­utes about him­self and his ex­pressed dis­en­chant­ment with lo­cal politi­cians whom he said were “cut from the same cloth, never mind the dif­fer­ent col­ors.” I had no idea when I first heard him on An­dre Paul that he was the same man I had serendip­i­tously en­coun­tered on the Choc Road—and from whom I had ac­cepted a “don’t vote” sticker for my bumper, later re­placed with my own “Not A Word, Not A Word, Not A Word” silent protest.

At the time he had seemed to me like so many other dis­en­chanted young Saint Lu­cians, most of whom knew not, and didn’t care to know, the names of our House Speaker, Se­nate Pres­i­dent or, for that mat­ter, our par­lia­men­tar­i­ans. On the other hand, they were quite fa­mil­iar with state­ments at­trib­uted to Joe Bi­den, Barack Obama, Huey New­ton, Cameron—and the re­ported ex­ploits of cer­tain ter­ror­ist-group lead­ers. Not for a mo­ment, how­ever, did I form the im­pres­sion they were more than young peo­ple look­ing for a break, a start in life, the op­por­tu­nity to make some­thing of them­selves.

In­deed, I had in­vited to break­fast at Rod­ney Bay’s Bread Bas­ket four such young peo­ple, none con­nected with Skeggs or Geega. (On our first meet­ing last Septem­ber I had ne­glected to ask Skeggs his name. Nev­er­the­less, im­pressed by his pas­sion and his ar­tic­u­late­ness, I had promised to in­vite him on

TALK, al­though I never fol­lowed through. His ap­pear­ance last Thurs­day was ar­ranged through an in­ter­me­di­ary. It was only when we met at DBS, 30 min­utes or so be­fore show time, that I re­al­ized we had met be­fore.)

In front of the cam­era, Skeggs was a lot calmer than Geega. Also at­tired from neck to toe in black, Skeggs tried to ex­plain what his friend had at­tempted to get across to me: that love had aban­doned Saint Lu­cia (or was it the other way around?)From all he said I formed the im­pres­sion there were many other young peo­ple all over the coun­try who were qui­etly seething with dis­gust, and blam­ing politi­cians and their satel­lites for their plight.

Some had found tem­po­rary em­ploy­ment with such pro­grams as STEP, for which they were ex­pected to show grat­i­tude. In­stead, they har­bored in­side them ha­tred and con­tempt for those who had promised them full-time em­ploy­ment and had cal­lously failed to de­liver. Mean­while they grew fat and obese and ar­ro­gant at the ex­pense of the na­tion’s de­pressed youth.

At one point dur­ing last week’s TALK I asked Skeggs why he had never sought an au­di­ence with a mem­ber of govern­ment. His an­swer was sim­ple: to do so would be point­less. All were liars. They said what­ever was ex­pe­di­ent. Skeggs re­peated a line ear­lier fired at An­dre Paul: there were two op­po­si­tion sides in par­lia­ment, not, as so many seemed to think, a govern­ment side and an op­po­si­tion.

“They op­pose each other,” said Skeggs, “be­cause they both want the same bone for them­selves. They call one an­other crim­i­nals and dogs and thieves. What does that have to do with get­ting jobs for young peo­ple?”

At the very least, Skeggs and Geega have made them­selves the cur­rent hot topic—al­most as hot as the hot air cur­rently be­ing blown from political plat­forms all over the coun­try. Some have called the ra­dio sta­tions to de­clare Skeggs, Geega and their friends “crazy.” Some have rec­om­mended “coun­sel­ing.” There are oth­ers—and from quar­ters not sur­pris­ing—who pre­tend to be con­cerned that “Rick Wayne is en­cour­ag­ing vi­o­lence when he puts such peo­ple on TV.”

Skeggs and Geega are far from crazy. What they are is dan­ger­ously cre­ative, as evinced by the way they have made them­selves and the plight of other young Saint Lu­cians sud­denly a hot-but­ton is­sue, how­ever mis­un­der­stood.

Some­thing tells me what hap­pens next will de­pend less on what my two TALK guests may have said, less on their some­what provoca­tive lan­guage, than on what the so­called Es­tab­lish­ment chooses to do about their omi­nous mes­sage. We’ve ig­nored such sig­nals be­fore—and some died be­cause of our reck­less stu­pid­ity!

By the way: the se­cu­rity min­is­ter or­dered the po­lice to re­quest I hand over video from last Thurs­day’s TALK. My re­ac­tion? “Kiss my ass!” And left it to our no­to­ri­ous in­ves­ti­ga­tors to dis­cover where I keep my do­mes­ti­cated don­keys, my mules and my video­tapes!

Sticks and stones break bones but name-call­ing is point­less. Fran­cis Phillip and Kim John were called “crazy” and left to them­selves, long be­fore the disas­ter that took the lives or sev­eral se­ri­ously in­jured

wor­ship­pers at the Cas­tries Cathe­dral!

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