When I saw it on the internet that the Prime Minister had invited a broad cross-section of the public to do a consultation on crime, I thought it was a little strange that I was not invited to share my point of view with all the various consultants. After all, I have been talking about crime for more than ten years. When this monster emerged in 1998 and teenagers began to get out of hand, the government through Dwyer Astaphan asked me what I thought could be done and I came up with the idea of Project Strong, a pre-emptive measure against crime. As a matter of fact, I was dealing with youth crime and deviancy long before Mr. Astaphan presented me with his challenge. In 1964 Inspector of Schools Willie Dore had a situation at Irish Town with which he challenged me. He made me the principal of that primary school. The school was a mess. Truancy by both boys and girls was a regular feature. I used to chase them down and they used to run into the sea and under houses to get away from me. In those days the primary schools used to prepare pupils for entrance exams into the Grammar School and the Girls High School. Irish Town had a string of years when either none or only one used to make it. The years before I took office Maloney, the chartered accountant, was the single student who made it. I worked at Irish Town only a year but at the end of the year, either 10 or 11 eleven-year-olds were marching triumphantly to the two high schools. Mr. Dore was proud of me. He held me up before the other primary school principals in Basseterre and demanded that they come to me for guidance in getting children to behave, getting parents to co-operate in getting their children to learn. I went away for three years and returned to take over the Basseterre Senior School. What a school the Basseterre Senior School was! When their teachers” backs were turned to the blackboard, some of them used to exit through the low windows and walk down the road with their boy and girl friends. It used to be a carnival every afternoon when they pitched battle in the streets on the way home and they became a regular nuisance, every weekend when they appeared before the magistrates at the juvenile court. Dwyer joined the staff when I did, and he tried very successfully to match my vision with his resourcefulness. We turned the school around and produced Analdo Baily, Winston Hutchinson, Oswald Elliott, Kenrick Georges, Edris Merchant, Pat Fulton, Delano Bart, Euclin Richardson and a long string of successful people including Chief Education Officer Welcome, Wendell Wattley, and some others who became school principals. Peace flowed like a river at the senior school and the following year the Ministry turned it into the junior school. Minister Astaphan had this record before him when he asked me to try something to abate the crime wave of 1998, so he was fairly certain that it would work. As he looks back at those ten years, I am sure he harbours good feelings at the success which Project Strong has been with the most limited of resources.””””””” It has endured for 10 years. During this time many boys and girls who might have gone on a different track, grew up to become decent and respectable young men and women holding jobs in which a few of them have achieved seniority. The government knows about Project Strong for they provided much of the funding which sustained it. And the government knows about me for every now and then when the public’s head is spinning from a season of criminal madness, I appear on Church Street with my placards calling for action to stop the madness. The more I thought about it, the more I failed to understand why I got no invitation. I searched my desk to see if somebody might have brought an invitation while I was away and it got hidden under my untidy pile of papers. No invitation. I went back to the Internet to see if somehow my name was mentioned. No invitation. I called my friend DuPont to see if he had got an invitation. Same response: No invitation. Then it dawned upon me and I spoke to myself. I said: “Boy Washie you are a real jackass. You went down Church Street and embarrassed the government with your protest against crime and expecting them to invite you to this big important meeting to consult about crime? Man, Washie, you losin it”! I talked back to myself. I said: “Fuh troo.” I shrugged my shoulders and went back to writing this week’s article. It was to be about a friend of mine called Woosey. His real name is Lionel C.M. Von Frederick Rawlins. He is a criminologist in California. Sacramento to be exact. I knew him when he was a teenager and I have followed his career for the many years since he left school, played in the Defense Force Band and in the Val Morris Dance Band. I knew his dad, Sergeant Rawlins who at one time was the only regular in the Defense Force. I knew his big sister Shirely Rawlins who lived between College Street and Market Street for many years. Over the years I had lost touch with Woosey, them I heard he had joined the United States Marines. Then I heard from him again, in a note about the crime situation here, in his native land.” He told me what he had done with his career and that he was a criminologist and the head of a firm called the Von Frederick Group. Dr. Rawlins has done much over the years, travelling all over the world investigating terrorism in places like Pakistan and Iraq and Afghanistan. Last week he was in Mexico, snooping like a good detective. The United States Government prizes Woosey’s services. If they had invited me to the consultation I would have made a passionate plea to bring Woosey home. I know he wants to come. He loves St. Kitts and would love dearly to help.
- Advertisement -