And so I vote
When we become citizens of this beautiful tropical heaven, whether by birth or by legal process, we are given certain privileges. Privileges we often grow to take for granted, but these are the very things that make us Trini, and make us separate and apart from any other people in the world. It is that special something, that local something that makes it all, makes it all much better. One such privilege is freedom.
The freedom to walk the streets with a beastly cold Carib in your hand. To stop at any hour of the night on Curepe Junction and get a piping hot doubles to quell your hunger after a night of clubbing. The freedom to revel in the streets for two, full days, which are not even public holidays. To show up at any random person’s house during the Christmas season, and enjoy copious amounts of food and liquor.
Upon citizenship, we are also all granted the freedom of expression. It is the autonomy to express ourselves and our opinions in any way we see fit. Some choose the piercing lyrical bombardment of a social commentary let off on the battle field of the Dimanche Gras stage. These words are meant to echo the voice of the everyday man on the street. The artist acts as a medium through which the concerns of the population can be heard around the islands.
Others choose to use their voices in a different way. Their field of play being the neighbourhood watering holes, street corners, salons or barber shops which they use as platforms to reach out and evoke passion in the people. Passion for our country’s development. They are the informal leaders that take in the issues of the layman and transfer them up the hierarchy to the ones who can do what needs to be done.
“We stain our fingers as representation of having made a decision to stand up and be heard”
There are then those very few who take it upon themselves to carry the concerns of the masses upon their very own shoulders. They win our admiration and respect with their eloquent speeches and benevolent acts. They become our nation’s leaders. A title we bestow upon them with trust that they would lead our people with honesty and transparency. We empower them with this great authority, but with great power come great responsibility. Theirs is the responsibility to seek the interests and needs of the populace as a whole without prejudice for as long as they are in office.
These people all have relative degrees of power and power has the tendency to corrupt. Calypsonians cripple the artform with racially motivated lyrics that only tell one side of the story and segregate the population. Union and other informal leaders twist the truth and show bias to certain sectors of the society for possible monetary gain. Politicians and other national leaders become consumed with greed and seek their own selfish interests and no longer that of the country.
However, we the people ourselves are given, by the constitution, the opportunity to make our voices heard. To make a difference. We speak out on that ballot paper. We make the choice of who we want to lead, based not on race or class but on well informed judgement of who is best suited to take the helm. We choose who will lead with honesty and integrity, and who will take up the issues of the people as their own and lead our country to higher heights. We stain our fingers as representation of having made a decision to stand up and be heard. We have the power to control the destiny of our nation, our country, our home. It is our duty as citizens and the one thing that this great twin island paradise asks of us in return. Payment for this and all the other freedoms we enjoy as children of Sweet Trinidad and Tobago.
Image credit: James Steidl, Istockphoto.com