By anguillian February 8, 2016 11:31 Updated




(First published in The Anguillian on 27th January 2006. Its message is still relevant in 2016 – 10 years later.)

And I saw in the right hand of him that sat on the throne a book with seven seals. And I saw when someone broke one of the seals.

And I heard, as if it was the noise of thunder, one of several beasts saying, “Come and see”. And I saw economic progress. Anguilla, an idyllic island paradise, of peace and of tranquility wrapped in blue, had developed into a world class tourism destination with a booming economy. I heard Chief Minister Osbourne Fleming boasting: “The light at the end of the tunnel, of which I spoke repeatedly during the dark economic days of 2000 to 2002, has now become so bright that it threatens to blind us”.

I saw the hotels packed to capacity and executive jet after executive jet land at the Wallblake Airport until it ran out of parking space. The taxi drivers like Bob, Bruds, Mack, George Brooks, Benson and others were grinning from ear to ear. “Anguilla nice,” they said.

I saw jobs galore. The unemployment rate was negligible. The state of the labour market was such that almost every Anguillian man and woman had two jobs. I saw some running from one job to the next with hardly a change of clothes or a fresh up except for pushing a washrag here and there. Some women only had time for another coat of lipstick before rushing off to a second job.

I saw the golf course project employing some 500 persons from all across the island. Then I heard the Labour Department inviting people from all across the Caribbean to come to Anguilla, the land of milk and honey, to fill some of the many vacancies in the labour market. I also heard a call for workers from as far as the Philippines, in the Pacific.

I saw money circulating as fast as the workers could make it. And people building mansions and arguing about whose was bigger or better. Almost every house had at least two motor vehicles mostly SUVs. Indeed, the standard of living was high.
The pace of economic growth was so rapid that the ministers of government became worried. “The economy is overheating. It needs cooling down,” they said, and they forthwith stopped the Junks Hole project and placed a moratorium on all new major tourism projects by foreign investors for two years”. And I saw many disappointed people from the eastern part of the island. They had looked forward to the Junks Hole Project because it would have provided them with jobs nearer home.

And when the second seal was broken I heard the second beast say, “Come and see”. And I saw social decay. While everybody’s attention was taken up with the economy, the social sector was ignored. I saw social depression alongside economic progression. The economy was developing but the people were not. And I heard a voice saying, “Anguillians, you are all making a serious mistake. Too much emphasis is being placed on materialism. Money is not all. Of course it is important, but not more important than people – than your children – and you all goin’ to regret it! Change your ways”. Taxi driver Glen Hodge interrupted: “Change what? We want dollars, not change!”

Then I saw several hundred ‘parentless’ homes. Having to contend with two or more jobs each day, parents seldom saw their children. I saw them leave home at morning while their children were still in bed, and return at night when they were fast asleep. The children were parented and tutored by the television which, before putting them to bed, exposed them to all kinds of vices: pornography, love for guns; glorification of violence and drug abuse and sexual promiscuity. And there were numerous teenage pregnancies.

I saw children wake up at mornings to find on a table a $50 note which was left there for the purchase of lunch at school. Parents had money which they lavished so that every child, from kindergarten to high school, had a cell phone and flashed Nike, Air Force and Timberland (US$180.00 a pair) shoes as if they cost nothing. I saw each child with his or her own house key. Children were free to come and free to go as they pleased. There was nobody around to guide them and so they used their freedom to visit the various nightspots where they danced, smoked and experimented with strong drink to which many became addicted. A voice warned, “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it,” but parents paid it no heed.

In the absence of proper parental training, the children became involved in all forms of anti-social behaviour. Then I saw them, in their schools, well armed with knives, sticks and other offensive weapons, refusing to learn their lessons but causing all kinds of trouble. At one time, they took over the Albena Lake-Hodge Comprehensive School and held the teachers hostage. Luckily, the school was recaptured without either side firing a shot. Thereafter, the school took on the appearance of a high security prison.

And when the third seal was broken I heard the third beast say, “Come and see”. And I saw increasing incidents of criminal activity. I saw young people, lacking basic courtesies, including good manners and respect for others, exhibiting all kinds of anti-social behaviour and creating problems for a once peaceful society. Then I heard a voice like that of Lyndon Duncan saying, “Look at our youths today. They have one cigarette in one hand; a bottle of beer in the other; their pants below their backside and their big boots on their feet. They are preparing for war!”

The war had not yet come, but the signs of impending danger were evident all across the island. I saw the body of the beautiful and talented 15-year-old Jamida Webster lying dead among the bushes around the Savannah Bay Pond and that of Pressure King in a pool of blood in a house at Old Ta. Then Jeremiah Alexander (Sky) vanished in the Forest Bay area without a trace and supposedly killed. It was in that same area that I saw the bullet-ridden body of Courtney Hodge sprawled across a rocky road. And I heard a voice say, “Anguillians, what you sow you reap. You sowed the wind and now you are reaping the whirlwind”.

Anguilla was indeed reaping the whirlwind. A little while later I saw Dwayne Connor being gunned down high morning, in North Side. Sheldon Brookes was lucky to escape with only a bullet in his foot. Then, in the twinkling of an eye, gunshots rang out again and two visitors, US citizens, were wounded by masked gunmen who had broken into their rented villa. And I heard a voice say, “Anguillians, you have a one-sector economy: tourism. If you do not stop the crime spiral you are going to kill the goose that lays the golden egg”.

And when the fourth seal was broken I heard the fourth beast say, “Come and see”. And I saw some deficiencies in our internal security. The Royal Anguilla Police Force was low in numbers, short of certain essential resources and lacked expert training in some critical areas. Though stretched to the limit, its members did a commendable job in their quest to stem the tide of criminal activity. I saw all of them soldiering on without any support from the people whose lives and properties they were protecting. Their efforts to bring the situation under control, and bring the criminals to justice, were severely hampered by the refusal of those who witnessed murder and mayhem to come forward with the evidence to help them with their investigations. And I heard Iwandai Gumbs telling the critics: “The police can’t work obeah to find out who did this or who did that. They need the assistance of the people”. Then a voice added, “The harbourer is worse than the thief”.

And when the fifth seal was broken I heard the fifth beast say, “Come and see”. And I saw ten men and two women sitting in a House trying to find solutions to the sad state of affairs in which the island had found itself. They came up with a plan to increase the penalties with respect to the illegal possession of guns and ammunition, but that appeared to make little difference for the sound of gunshots were heard rattling through South Valley waking its residents from their slumber. And I heard a voice like that of Belto saying: “I told dem fellas to make the term of imprisonment for firearm offences 200 years”.

And when the sixth seal was broken I heard the sixth beast say, “Come and see”. And I saw most of the island’s churches half empty or half full. The people had turned their backs on God their creator. They were too busy making money and so they set up altars, in the commercial banks, around which they worshipped the man on the US dollar. And I heard a voice saying, “Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image . . . Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them: for I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me. . .”.

And when the seventh seal was broken I heard the seventh beast say, “Come and see” and I saw anarchy, mayhem, disorder or whatever. There was utter confusion, death and destruction and the living were unable to bury the dead. People everywhere were screaming for deliverance. Suddenly the skies opened up and I heard a voice say: “People of Anguilla! You have failed your country and what you are witnessing is the beginning of things to come. You have turned your paradise into a den of criminals. I admonish all of you to stop hiding the criminals. Hand them over to the police. Reject the culture of silence”.
The voice went on: “People of Anguilla, you are the architects of your own demise. You have not only turned your backs on God, but also on your children and you are now reaping the bitter harvest. Verily, verily, I say unto you, parents, that you are the root cause of Anguilla’s social problems. Clean up your act. Take control of your children. Show them love. Not money. Turn their brand named shoes into books and their cell phones into computers. Make sure they find themselves in school. Take them to church, not send them. Keep them away from the nightspots. Spend quality time with them. Teach them by example. Lead from the front and not from behind”.

As I listened in awe, every strand of hair on my head stood up. Then I heard the voice exclaim: “Governor Huckle!” And, in utter disbelief and shock, Governor Huckle responded: “Here am I master!” And the voice said: “Governor Huckle! Listen to me well! Internal security and the police are your responsibilities. Please ensure that the police force is properly equipped and trained to help in bringing an end to this reign of terror. In the interim, get some Scotland Yard boys to provide some assistance”. Governor Huckle replied: “Thy will be done. I am leaving here in June for the Falklands Islands but I will do all I could before I go!”
The other time my hair stood up was when the voice said: “Chief Minister Osbourne, a lot is expected of you”. Osbourne interrupted: “How come you know me by my first name?” And the voice said, “I was at your baptism a few weeks ago and was happy to see you return to the fold”. It was a trembling Osbourne who listened with trepidation as the voice said to him: “I recognise that Anguilla’s economy is booming. Well done. But its social infrastructure is regressing and its human resources are undeveloped. Verily, verily, I say unto thee, start forthwith to honour your campaign promise to put most of the island’s resources into social development – into people development. I know that you are not well at this time but, fear not. I have heard your prayers and those of your people and I will never leave you nor forsake you. You will be well again soon. I have need for you because your work is not yet done”. And a tearful Osbourne reponded: “I am truly blessed”.

The voice also spoke to the leaders of the churches: “You are too silent on many issues confronting the island. Go and do the work of him that sent you. I admonish you, to speak out. Who get hurt, get hurt. Don’t you remember what I did to the moneychangers? I threw them out. Do likewise”. Pastor Ashford Desouza butt in: “Our social problems call for a spiritual solution”.

And when the voice had finished saying these things, it was taken away by a cloud. Then as the people stood speechless, two men appeared in white apparel and told them: “Heed the words of him that hath spoken or else you shall be beaten with many stripes”.

By anguillian February 8, 2016 11:31 Updated


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