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January 19, 2018
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January 19, 2018

2018: the year for love

Aaron 'Voice' St. Louis, Source: Facebook

by Dr Marlene Attz Sooping-Chow

The year for love. That’s the message that I ponder in my heart at the start of 2018 and the message I want to share with you in this week’s column.

Trinbago, for all our ills—and these days we are counting many ills—finds a collective respite during the Carnival season.  For those who have been reading this column since I started writing in 2016, it’s no secret that I truly appreciate ‘we culture’ at least the more pleasant elements of it. Through some of the aspects of Carnival we display a level of resilience, productivity and harmony. Note I said “some” aspects.

One such element of which I am particularly proud this year is the soca music—some of it at least. In particular, the contributions of a young soca star known as ‘Voice’.

Born Aaron St Louis, he was described as a ‘San Juan youth man’ in a recent newspaper profile. Yes, I said San Juan, one of those areas many are willing to speak of in derogatory language.

Voice certainly has me convinced that God has given him many talents.  I also suspect God is very pleased that Voice is using these talents to spread a message of love and hope in Trinbago, at a time when love seems absent and we are tottering at the edge of an abyss of hopelessness. One of Voice’s musical contributions this year, and my absolute favourite song—from the time I heard it in 2017.  The song is entitled ‘The Year for Love’.

I’m sure many ‘more mature’ readers may have discarded the recent soca contributions as rubbish and in so doing unfortunately throw out the proverbial baby with the bathwater. My view is one has to listen to all kinds of music—good, bad and ugly to know what is, and isn’t ‘rubbish’.

But back to Mr Voice. The song, which you can listen to on YouTube, has lyrics along the following lines:

“… Tell me what dey fighting for, what dey killing for,

We doh need no more, so tell dem wicked people,

‘fire go bun dem’ (repeat)

This is the year for love…

Lil boy you eh bad at all.

Another one just fall,

You beat your chest and smile

Say you is a bad man

Another young boy fall

Yuh soul cyar rest at night

Oh you is a bad man

‘Bad man’ is a man who does defend woman and protect the young ones by any means …”

I chose to start my 2018 contributions borrowing from the work of young Mr Voice to highlight the fact that even though we start 2018 on a very sour note—murder toll was at double digits in less than ten days, women being killed as a result of domestic abuse, teenagers being targets of gruesome murders— we as a people, and particularly as a Catholic community cannot give up hope.

At Christmas we celebrated the birth of our Saviour—the sure sign that there is and must be hope. Ann Frank, a renowned author, said “Where there’s hope, there’s life. It fills us with fresh courage and makes us strong again.”

For me some of that hope comes from this young man—the same age as many of our youth who are falling prey to crime and the fast life. Ella Andall also warned about “the missing generation”.  In her song that echoes some similar sentiments, she called upon the country to pray for our youth!

Apart from the social challenges that make daily headlines, the economy still is struggling—another source of angst. Persons are losing jobs, salaries are threatened, livelihoods hang in the balance. Foreign exchange will become scarcer as we import everything for Carnival, except the corn for the corn soup’round the Savannah.

Scarcer foreign exchange in the face of higher demand means consumers will face higher prices. On the face of it the future doesn’t look bright. While I too am dismayed by what is happening in our country, I remain an eternal optimist and borrow from the Black Stalin, Dr Leroy Calliste “…we can make it if we try, just a little harder…if we just give one more try, life could be much sweeter…”.

Our new archbishop, Jason Gordon, also spoke to the need for collective action and responsibility in his first official speech. For those who may have missed it he noted, “… [Crime and violence]… is bigger than any government …to confront the situation requires a collaborative effort… If we want one person or group to solve this problem, this would not work. It’s our problem. We live here. And every single one of us has to get involved…citizens have to become non-violent and be of peace, promoting forgiveness and harmony.”

I wish all readers and their families a positive 2018.  Let this be our “year for love”.

That’s just my point of view.