President Paula-Mae Weekes. –
PRESIDENT Paula-Mae Weekes urged each citizen to carry out a daily ritual of affirmations, to collectively manifest a better Trinidad and Tobago, in her message to mark TT’s 60th anniversary of Independence, inspired by the words of calypsonians Slinger “Sparrow” Francisco, the late Mervyn “Sniper” Hodge and the late Kade “Lord Brynner” Simon, and pop star the late Michael Jackson. She urged TT as “a restless nation” to heed the biblical prophet Jeremiah’s advice for a people to stand at the crossroads and seek ancient paths marking “the good way.”
Lamenting initial impressions of TT now as a wilderness of “brazen criminality, ugly divisive politics, rampant unemployment, distressing reports of child abuse and troubling pockets of poverty,” she said that compared to the hopes of 1962 citizens might well ask, “How the France we get here?”
Weekes recalled TT once having national pride, an enviable literacy rate, booming industries, respect for others and office, plus integrity, decency and compassion.
TT’s traditional problems of lawbreaking, corruption, societal dysfunction and ethnic division were never to the extremes that now exist, she said.
“For many years after Sniper first sang ‘Portrait of Trinidad’ in 1965, we citizens sang along lustily, without hesitation or reservation.”
Weekes said TT was at a crossroads, to carefully choose its path forward.
“TT desperately needs to find where the good way lies and walk in it and we don’t have a moment to spare.”
Urging deep contemplation by all, she said 60 years, was time enough to develop “maturity, wisdom, fortitude, discernment and patience.”
Weekes urged an end to laissez-faire attitudes, intolerant viewpoints, irrational conspiracy theories, appetites for bacchanal, the blame game, social media character assassinations, and the rehashing of old grudges.
“This is the point at which we must take up our precious Georgie (jahaji) bundle of enduring and admirable national qualities and legacies — creativity, diversity, generosity, resilience, energy and passion, among others — hoist it on our shoulders and set course for the future.”
Quoting Jackson’s song Man in the Mirror, she urged everyone to each look at themselves and change their thinking, attitudes and behaviour.
“Today would be a good day to set aside some time to envision and manifest our future.”
Weekes challenged each working person to began their day saying, “I am a citizen of Trinidad and Tobago. I have and I take direct responsibility for its affairs.”
“Try it for just one day to start but this affirmation would require daily repetition until it becomes a personal credo.”
She said a serious commitment to TT in homes, schools, offices, parliament and communities would create lasting change.
While people put aside demographic differences during national celebrations, she hoped this could be sustained in line with Lord Brynner’s 1962 winning calypso urging all to, “Live like one happy family.”