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!
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!