“I had to find my pen again” I have taken a self imposed hiatus from regular Commentary to attend to a myriad of other things. My writing over the past five years has gone from frequent to infrequent to non-existent. However there are some issues and new information that have forced me to find the time as well as that quiet place to write again. For me, this article is to bring to light certain injustices in our society so that we as a community can attack these problems head on. I have found that Nevisians today are so occupied with themselves that we forget the sacrosanct importance of being our brother’s keeper. For me, I hold fast to the teachings of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. who coined the phrase, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” I have become just too sick and fed up to remain sick and fed up without doing something about it. The first thing that has forced me to find my pen is the sickening and regular occurrence of people being paid way below minimum wage. I know the recession is on but these people have been paid way below minimum wage even before the recession hit. These people work in excess of eight hours per day and are made to slave illegally and daily for way less than minimum wage. Please note with me that the Minimum Wage in St Kitts Nevis was raised from $250.00 per week to $320 per week as of November 1, 2008. However, to this day there are still some workers making less than even the previous minimum wage of $250.00 per week. It is important then that the Labour Department and Social Security act as watchdogs of the disadvantaged By checking the books of various employers. While there may be other places, my information suggests that it has been abused especially in the day care centres and pre-schools in Nevis. These people have to change dirty pampers five times a day and keep over-zealous children from 0 to 5 in tact, but they are some of the most underpaid people in our society. The employers just work them and promise to pay more but never ever do so. It is these kinds of injustices that have forced me to find my pen again. My pen also has to be found when our women folk are continually physically abused and the deadbeat dads refuse to pay child support. It hurts even more when some of these matters are hushed up By a pernicious set of lawyers and police officers. I must at this time pause to salute the efforts of Ms. Myrna Walwyn in championing the cause of the women who have been physically abused and those who are left with no support for their children. Her law chambers has over the years been responsible for representing these women who would be considered ‘the least of these’ and ensuring that justice is brought to the fore. My heart bleeds though, when I hear of the horrific stories where men beat, bruise, batter and brutalize women and then still come to town acting as if they are pure and holy. They come in all shapes and sizes, from vendors to people in jackets and ties. The nauseating reality is that lawyers facilitate them and delay cases until the statute of limitations expire so that they can never be heard. Meanwhile the lady is the one who has to bear the shame, pain and explain to their children. Some women have had to keep wearing shades, take out their womb, put makeup in all sorts of places and suffer internal bleeding. Neighbours see and hear when these beatings are going on and simply go back to watching the Oprah Winfrey Show. My heart also bleeds when men demand paternity tests when they know the child is theirs and the child looks exactly like them. Even when it is determined that the child is theirs, they still refuse to pay child support causing the mother and child untold hardship. I for one cannot wait for the day when the wages of deadbeat dads will automatically be garnished By law for child support. I have also become sick and fed up of people who take wanton advantage of the mentally challenged or those people who would have attended school at the Special Education Unit. The males who are mentally challenged are used as test-tubes for the most illicit combinations of marijuana and alcohol. They do it to fit in and then become the laughing stock of the entire village. Additionally, it is almost as if once you are mentally challenged in Nevis that you are used as a sex toy in the village. People confuse them telling them that they love them simply to have sex with them. They become pregnant quickly and many have contracted STD’s, and as per usual, no one wants to hold their hand up to take responsibility. They are then left bemused and confused and get caught up simply having multiple sexual partners throughout their lives. As a Real Estate Agent myself, it would be remiss of me not to speak of what I term “gangster realtors”. While many people see gangsters as those with red and blue handkerchiefs, there are two types of gangsters in the real estate business who may wear any colour ties. These are the people who sell land without being able to give them a title. In other words John buys a bit of land that Tom offers him in St. George and all Tom offers him is a receipt. So John although he has paid Tom good money for the land cannot go to the court and see a Certificate of Title that says he owns the land. I know one such John who went with a particular realtor to buy land in some far off place with no road, water or electricity and no title. John now cannot go into NEVLEC to get electricity because he has no title, nor can he get his plan approved to build at Planning. Yet Tom (the realtor) is smiling with John’s money. All John has is a mere receipt when he should have a Certificate of Title which is the only document to prove irrefutable legal ownership of said land. The other type of gangster realtor/landowner is the one who repeatedly sell lands without road, water or electricity. Their main concern is that they get their money. These gangsters will provide you with a good certificate of title but the burden will rest on you to pay NEVLEC to bring in poles for electricity, pay Water Department to get water to your land, pay Cable TV to run Cable Wires on the poles and pay LEFCO, OMP or Munster Construction to pave your road. One now has to find all that money simply because of unscrupulous developers who refuse to develop lands that they have for sale. The Planning Department and Inland Revenue must do a better job to police these developers. Just as Nevis was blacklisted By the OECD for not being compliant anti money laundering regulations, we need a list in Nevis where certain developers or developments are blacklisted until they comply with the law and put in the necessary utilities. This will help to stem the real estate violence of these gangsters. I may be like John the Baptist and be ‘the voice of one crying in the wilderness’ but I will cry as long as I have breath in my body. I have to find my pen to defend those who are paid below minimum wage. I have to find my pen to defend those women who are abused, used and misused By our lawyers and policemen or when deadbeat dads continue to multiply. I have to find my pen when people take advantage of the mentally challenged in our land. I certainly have to find my pen to defend against the gangsters in real estate. If we as a society help to police these problems then there is no telling what good we can do. There needs to be more social pressure to effect change. It is the societal will that dictates political and legislative will. My article must not stand alone. We must use the print and electronic media, organize discussions, marches, radio shows, draft legislation, lob By politicians and use drama among other things to ensure we drive our point home. Amos 5:16 has a lesson for us if I could make one substitution to the Holy Book “hate evil, love good, maintain justice in the courts; Perhaps the Lord Almighty will have justice on the remnant of Joseph. (Nevis)” If we as a people decide again to awake our consciences and speak up for the abused, refused, and misused among us, I am sure that we too can build a society in Nevis where the moral arc is permanently bent to ju
stice. Selah.