In June 2008, 88-year-old Harry Gocool was bludgeoned to death in his Fyzabad home, where he lived alone. There was no statement issued by the Minister of National Security or the Commissioner of Police and, of course, his killer is yet to be found.
In my eulogy at the Siparia Anglican Church, this is how I described the state of affairs in T&T back then: “It is midnight in Trinidad and Tobago. We are in the darkest hour; that hour when everything and everybody all appear to be the same—a dirty shade of grey. There is a sickness of the national spirit; a crisis of faith that has made effective governance almost impossible. It is a crisis of confidence; a crisis that strikes at the very heart, soul and spirit of our national will, and it is threatening to destroy the entire social fabric of our country.
“It would appear to me that in many ways our country has lowered its head into the soft, satin pillow of apathy. We have been lulled to sleep by indifference. We wallow in a vain 2020 pursuit of the images of economic success while, a stone’s throw away, our children and our young men are dying in the streets.
“In these vile times, as concerned citizens, we question how men can sleep while criminality abounds in both high and low places. We question how men can sleep while people die and communities collapse before our very eyes.
“Perhaps, it’s been good for men to sleep. Perhaps, sleep is the only time that prejudice and injustice, indifference and apathy finally recede from our consciousness.”
With no intended disrespect to the Seetahal family, would it be unreasonable for me to ask the Commissioner of Police to spare two or three of the 1,000 officers he indicated he would use if he deemed them necessary to deal with Dana’s case and re-direct them to Harry Gocool’s case? You see, my concern stems from the fact that people are falling over each other to sing Dana’s praises and it creates an impression that some lives have more “value” than others.
Although Dana’s contribution to national development was more widely known, Harry Gocool also made a contribution to national development through his work in the oilfields and his work in building the Oilfields Workers’ Trade Union.
So, if by some miracle, Dana’s brutal assassination can provide us with the desperately-needed “wake-up call” from our collective apathy, she would not have died in vain.
Robert A Mayers