Black Lives Mat­ter . . . As Do Val­ues!

The Star (St. Lucia) - - COMMENT -

In a re­cent post to os­ten­si­ble friends Kings­ley ‘Inch’ St Hill writes: “This af­ter­noon, while re­flect­ing on how Andre [Paul] and Rus­sell [Lake] boasted that FM 100 alone with­stood the hur­ri­cane [Matthew] and how we had no post-mortem, my thoughts were in­ter­rupted by a call from my buddy Ronald ‘Boo’ Hink­son, who asked: ‘What is it as a na­tion that we are pas­sion­ate about, par­tic­u­larly our young peo­ple?’ Boo went on to tell me he could iden­tify a few in­di­vid­u­als who were pas­sion­ate about writ­ing, sports, mu­sic, the arts—and he named them. But as a col­lec­tive he could not say what Saint Lu­cians are pas­sion­ate about, com­pared to our brethren in Ja­maica who are pas­sion­ate about mu­sic and ath­let­ics; Bar­ba­di­ans who are pas­sion­ate about Bar­ba­dos; and Trinida­di­ans who are pas­sion­ate about ca­lypso and car­ni­val.”

Inch re­called his boy­hood when he and his friends were pas­sion­ate about “cricket, pitch­ing mar­bles, fly­ing kites, go­ing to the beach and gen­er­ally do­ing things to­gether.” He noted that Boo and The Tru Tones, Quavers, Big Six, Vi­bra­tones, CYO Har­monites, Re­birth Seven, South­ern Broth­ers Or­ches­tra were big; they all had a fol­low­ing. “With the ad­vent of Black Power we wore our Afros with dig­nity and pride; we were proud to be Black. We were once proud to be a Catholic na­tion. There was a time when a vis­i­tor would be cor­rect to re­port back his or her ob­ser­va­tion of our coude­main/ self-help cul­ture.”

Inch ad­mits: “I don’t know what we are pas­sion­ate about as a peo­ple. But I must add that we like to bring down one an­other.” Fi­nally, he writes what (keep in mind, dear reader, Boo’s orig­i­nal ques­tion) seems a non se­quitur out of nowhere: “The truth is, save for crony­ism, who gets the crumbs from the po­lit­i­cal cake?”

I have known Boo from way back in his late 60s-Rock Hall days, when his band was just start­ing to make mu­si­cal waves here, and I in the UK. With his Tru Tones band, we played con­certs at Clarke’s Cinema and at Gai­ety The­ater in Wil­liam Peter Boule­vard, alas both long gone with the wind. I dare to say how Boo be­came the mu­si­cian he is to­day has as much to do with nat­u­ral tal­ent as with tun­nelvi­sioned ded­i­ca­tion and a skin ab­so­lutely re­sis­tant to ev­ery strain of dis­cour­age­ment. His com­po­si­tions ought to be re­quired read­ing, es­pe­cially at our schools. But then, I choose to be­lieve most Saint Lu­cians are fa­mil­iar with Boo’s rise to mu­si­cal fame; no need to de­tail it here. What is per­haps not quite as well known is Boo’s sense of fair play and his un­com­mon love for his fel­low­man, par­tic­u­larly the de­prived.

I’ve long lost count of the times Boo got me out of bed to lis­ten to an­other pre­dictable sob story of sex­ual abuse of young girls and boys, some street urchins; hun­gry kids with nowhere to turn; women in dis­tress—all of whom re­ceived his as­sis­tance in one form an­other. If mem­ory serves, he may have taken one or more aban­doned chil­dren into his home. I need add that not all of the calls af­ter mid­night were sleep chasers. Some were down­right hi­lar­i­ous de­spite that they un­der­scored Boo’s in­no­cence (okay, naivete!). One comes to mind: head­ing home af­ter a late-night ho­tel gig in the is­land’s north, he had stopped on a rain-soaked and dark Bois d’Or­ange Road to of­fer a mini-skirted and hat­less young woman a lift. Alas, within sec­onds of set­tling into Boo’s pas­sen­ger seat, she whipped off her de­signer tee shirt and of­fered her res­cuer from the rain “a wash and pol­ish,” which of course he gen­tly de­clined. “Then drop me off right here,” said the bra­less young woman, non­cha­lantly get­ting back into her blouse. The had driven but a few yards from where Boo had of­fered her a ride.

“You picked up a hooker?” I teased. And Boo said: “I don’t think so, she couldn’t have been more than fif­teen. Maybe she was hun­gry. Per­haps she imag­ined I wouldn’t help her if she didn’t of­fer some­thing in re­turn. I was go­ing to give her some money but she jumped out be­fore I could get out my wal­let.” Boo sounded as if he had just driven his car over a fam­ily mem­ber.

“That’s what pros­ti­tutes do,” I said, crack­ing up. “They of­fer their spe­cial ser­vices, for which they ex­pect to get paid.” To this day Boo con­tin­ues to beat him­self for miss­ing the op­por­tu­nity to help that cer­tain lady of the night!

But to re­turn to Inch. It is un­de­ni­able that young Saint Lu­cians seem no longer to be pas­sion­ate about any­thing. If so, then the ques­tion must be asked: What killed the pas­sion that was ev­i­dently ev­ery­where when Inch was a boy? It seems to me that pas­sion—in the sense of bound­less en­thu­si­asm— de­mands an ob­ject about which to be pas­sion­ate. As a boy Boo was in­spired by his gui­tar-play­ing mother, Iona. He soon dis­cov­ered he had in­her­ited her love for the in­stru­ment and de­ter­mined he, too, would one day play it as well as she did. Most im­por­tant, his mother en­cour­aged him, taught him, con­vinced him that few worth­while goals were ac­com­plished with­out per­sis­tence and hard work. It was that be­lief that be­gat Boo’s pas­sion for per­fec­tion. As for his al­tru­ism, it was all part of want­ing to be the best he could pos­si­bly be as hu­man be­ing. A truly good per­son had to be as con­cerned about the well be­ing of oth­ers as of own, at the very least. The Hinksons had taken to live with them a young boy known to ev­ery­one as “Gor­gor,” for rea­sons that’ll be ob­vi­ous to Cre­ole-speak­ing Saint Lu­cians.

Un­de­ni­ably, what we see in our young to­day is a re­flec­tion of our­selves; of what we con­sider im­por­tant. Our kids, af­ter all, are us. If they are with­out be­liefs, it is be­cause most of us con­tinue to demon­strate our own be­lief in noth­ing; least of all our­selves. Those who once be­lieved man was in­nately good have been given good cause to change their minds and now we seem self-con­vinced that hu­man be­ings are born evil, hyp­o­crit­i­cal, self­ish. Sadly our church shep­herds now ap­pear no bet­ter than their flock, in­clud­ing our two-faced politi­cians who say one thing (es­pe­cially at elec­tion time) then pro­ceed to do the very op­po­site with im­punity. On re­flec­tion, Inch’s last line about “crony­ism” and “crumbs from the po­lit­i­cal cake” says more about what he meant to say than he ac­tu­ally said!

But all is not lost. Ronald ‘Boo’ Hink­son this week re­ceived the OBE for his con­tri­bu­tions to mu­sic. It proves the value of per­sis­tence in the face of ad­ver­sity—re­gard­less of the pos­si­ble mo­tives of the be­stow­ers of the spe­cial honor. Per­haps in the near fu­ture his ef­forts on be­half of the par­tic­u­larly de­prived and mis­guided will sim­i­larly be rec­og­nized—if only to prove to the young that de­spite the over­whelm­ing con­trary ev­i­dence per­sonal val­ues mat­ter!

Ronald ‘Boo’ Hink­son OBE: The ace gui­tarist in Lon­don this week with his wife Donna.

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