Books about Anguilla


Sunday, 20 May 2012


A Special Sitting of The Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court, Anguilla Circuit was held at the Court House in the Valley on Monday, 14th May 2012 in honour of His Lordship the Hon. Chief Justice, Sir Hugh Rawlins. The Chief Justice was being celebrated for his contribution to the Judiciary in the region in his several capacities on the occasion of his retirement from Supreme Court scheduled for August 2012. A number of glorious things were said about his life’s work both in the Judiciary and academia by his colleagues and his students. There was a great deal that was noteworthy in all the presentations. However, two issues that the Chief Justice stressed impacted me greatly, namely, “protocol” and “independence of thought”. I got the impression that these two issues are of significant concern to the Chief Justice as he makes his exit from public life to other pursuits of his choosing.

The Chief Justice deliberately suspended the proceedings having noticed that certain invited guests were not properly placed in keeping with their office and stature and in his remarks he bemoaned the lack of regard for protocol in our communities. He took the time to explain why protocol is important suggesting that the culture of strict regard for issues of protocol was perhaps responsible for Great Britain’s success as an Empire. The main thrust of his theory seemed to be that the observance of protocol is an important aspect of proper management and good governance and that respect for the office and not necessarily the occupant is the imperative that should demand the observance of protocol.

It was also apparent that the Chief Justice’s views regarding the paucity of “independence of thought” in our region are well known among his colleagues because it was first raised by one of the presenters at the Sitting. The Chief Justice made it the single issue that he wanted to encourage everyone to improve upon. He observed that there seemed to be a widespread readiness on the part of persons at all levels of our society to accept what they have heard or read without examining and/or questioning the accuracy or authenticity of the information. He suggested that such an approach could inevitably lead to wrong conclusions and the establishment of false premises. He admonished all of us not to be afraid to question any point of view regardless of the source. I could not help but on reflect on my article of April 27 entitled “A Herd Mentality”. 

I believe that Sir Hugh’s (the Chief Justice’s) comments on these two issues in particular are relevant to the direction our society is heading, namely, a growing disregard for rules, procedures and courteous behaviour in our society and a readiness to accept gossip, rumour, slander and lies as the basis for our views and responses to situations around us. Sir Hugh’s remarks were therefore timely as we struggle with concerns over the increase in violence in our community and the blatant disregard for the authorities charged with investigating and prosecuting the serious crimes that have been the result.

Speaking of crime, it was gratifying to see the various political personalities in District 3 and 6, the focal points of the ongoing gang rivalries, put politics aside and agree to have a united approach to dealing with this very troubling trend in the community. These leaders coming together is a great symbol of hope for addressing the challenges confronting us as we grapple with the serious effects these trends can have on our ability to create an environment conducive to securing positive growth and development for present and future generations of Anguillians. Hopefully, this latest initiative triggered by the senseless and inhuman execution of young Gustave Hodge is not the usual “on again off again” approach that has characterized our responses as a community to these crimes over the years. 

But something tells me that young Gustave did not die in vain. I would like to believe that this is not another “on again off again” reaction from the community. I would like to believe that we are all shocked that living among us are persons with such a level of anger that they have become emboldened enough to commit heinous crimes in broad daylight, obviously without concern for the consequences. I would like to believe that Gustave’s murder will be a rallying cry for all of us to get together to do something about the violent crime epidemic that is maiming and killing our young men. I would like to believe that this is a turning point in our efforts to break the cycle of violence in our community. Let me tell you why!

On Saturday morning, May 12, 2012 at approximately 9.15 a.m. a young man appeared at Ebenezer Methodist Church in shackles to attend his brother’s funeral. Guards from H.M. Prison had escorted him there. He was there to attend the funeral of his older brother Gustave Hodge. His name was Stedroy Hodge. For many persons it appeared inhumane that the young man had to endure the indignity of shackles even in his grief. But while others were actuated by similar feelings they were fully aware of the protocols required for transporting prisoners. Stedroy was a prisoner serving his time for a criminal offence. But Stedroy was destined to make an impression on every one who attended that funeral or listened to the broadcast on Radio. His words were powerful as he emotionally and courageously presented two poems that he had prepared for the sad occasion.

I believe that what Stedroy had to say must be memorialized and lifted up as a strong message to those persons who are caught up in this cycle of violence and death. These poems should also be used to advance the cause of putting an end to the violence among young people in particular. In the circumstances, I believe that I have no choice other than to publish these two poems in their entirety for my readers to digest. Stedroy’s first poem is to Gustave:-
My love for you is unconditional
I wish I could pray and bring you back
But it just don’t work like that
I would never be the same when you are not around
Because now when I want to see you
I’ll have to see a stone
Even if we weren’t the best of friends
We were still there for each other
Through the good and the bad
Sometimes we had to do what we had to do
To make it but we tried
Now I cant even see you smile
If in time to come we don’t deal with this environmental issue
And this deadly pollution of people’s family being injured
For example peoples loved ones used as human targets
This cannot be accepted unattended to
Because if we do it would spread
Like a virus blowing through the air
If we don’t attend this somehow
We wont be able to walk in our own yards
Before we see another mother crying
Maybe I am not the one you want to listen to
But ask yourself if I am not talking the truth.
The second poem is to his mother and his siblings.
Mom, brothers, sisters, I am sorry
That I have disappointed you in the past
But I am giving you my word
Today is the day that my mind will stop living in the mirror of the past;
Graduate from a boy to a man,
Stop playing with the friends that’s always playing games
Be closer to the family that will help me change
We have a lot of angry clouds thundering over our heads
But God will keep us; no time for revenge
Gustave was my brother he was trying to change
But people who don’t understand life took his life instead
I know a lady so wonderful and so pure
She is a beautiful person I’m her son I should know
Mom don’t cry too much keep strong
Let God’s Sun shine on those who are still doing the wrong.
Gustave is now shining among the stars.
These are the words of a young man who has had his share of challenges and is now confronted by the reality of life in the brutal death of his brother. The prism through which he looks is one that many young men like him, incarcerated for various crimes, see the world. There is a different reality to which they respond in and from the confines of a prison. Here he sits helpless to reverse those circumstances that led to his brother’s death --- yet unlike others in a similar situation he appears to bear no malice in his heart and speaks of “change” and advises against “revenge”. But in all of this Stedroy knows that something has to be done as he speaks of the “angry clouds thundering over our heads” and the virus blowing through the air, which if left unattended will spread.

So much symbolism in the words of a forgotten young man practically lost in the prison system! Symbols that we can put to good use to assist in stemming the tide of violence and death among the young men of our island. Were it not for Gustave’s death, persons like myself would not have known or heard that there was a young man with the ability to speak so eloquently to these troubling issues which we must seriously attend. It is because of Stedroy that I believe that Gustave has not died in vain --- and why I believe that these new initiatives will be more than an “on again off again” response. According to Stedroy “if we don’t attend to this somehow we wont be able to walk in our own yards --- before we see another Mother crying”!

A number of us have decided that Stedroy’s voice should ring out with these poems across the nation’s airwaves and will prevail upon the management of H.M. Prisons to give us that opportunity to make such a recording, Hopefully, as we move forward with these initiatives we will give credence to Stedroy’s contention that “Gustave is now shining among the stars!”

By: Victor F. Banks
Victor Banks is a former Finance, Economics, Commerce and Tourism Minister on Anguilla. He is presently the leader of the Oposition Anguilla United Front Party, writer and author of a weekly political article for The Anguillian News Paper, lyricist, and a self-employed entrepreneur.

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