1979 real and vicarious Roseau looting, violence NEVER SEEN BEFORE

EJ (Nugent) Thomas in his younger days                                Nugent as a boy with parents Clayron and EJ

Prologue

I just celebrated my ha – ha umpteenth birthday (don’t be tempted to speculate).  I really need to exhale via the telling of this long-held storyline of mine.  So I can breathe easier before joining my deceased parents: E.J. Thomas and Clayron J. Bethel.  One never knows the Hour or Day. Mind you, there is no white-faced police pegging me down to the pavement with his knee to my neck. I am sitting comfortably at a computer.  With no fear or malice, with the sole motive to explain my long-held thoughts and fears, and disillusionment with “people”  in my hometown.  Well, there is so much up in the air today.   The COVID-19 pandemic, perilous, Chaotic and Abnormal Days in larger cities, towns and villages worldwide, rumors of war, upgrading of natural disasters from sea levels rising, earthquakes to….the list goes on. 

 

1979 Real and Vicarious Roseau Looting, Violence  NEVER SEEN BEFORE

We all as Dominicans may suffer personally, as I now still do,  or vicariously, for the brutal, systemic destruction of several businesses heralded in by aspiring politicians during a period of lawlessness and despair in 1979. Especially the annihilation of one VERY young local businessman who felt the FULL consequences of the utmost relentless push of attacks and clearly lost the most, including several very well-stocked-to-the ceilings, large warehouses and furnished homes in Roseau and nearby villages – ME!  EJ Thomas Jr.

The block and mortar business was birthed on Old Street, next to the Carib Cinema and within a year, another storefront was opened at the corner of Kennedy Ave and Great Great George V Street leading to the old Roseau bridge. The latter location was popularly known as Lagon.  The import, wholesale and retail flourished and served smaller retailers across the country as far out as Portsmouth to Scotts Head.

In the meantime, I was growing up quickly as most kids do, and they thought I needed a roomier and healthier environment away from “shop politics” and not so favorable stuff.

So, In the fifties, they also bought a small property in a pristine area in the Valley, Trafalgar. It was a 12-minute walk away from the base of the majestic Falls. A few years later he transformed it into a 4 bedroom wall house.

Neighbors were scattered here and there. There were lots of wide-open spaces for the hundreds of nite-time-fireflies to glow scarily in the dark.  There were no street lights, no invasion of Mother Nature yet, no curse words either were randomly propelled into the air by stranglers.

It was a pleasant and exciting transformation to adapt to from the rather noisy bustle and hustle of the heart of the city, honking vehicles, rowdy shoppers, happy talkative cinema-goers,  drunks wanting to be heard too,  street performers of all kinds showing off their talents on  Old Street and New Street. I now had to adapt to new and quieter surroundings.   I dearly missed my young friends but in time, developed new comrades in the village.

 Falling asleep to the droning sounds of a powerful vibrant river that was fed by a pair of “male” and ”female”  cascading, breathtaking waterfalls.  I would wake up to the sounds of chirping and cooing of birds, crickets,  croaking frogs.  The odorous smell of the Valley Sulfur Springs, the pure mist of nature rising upward to the surrounding hills that towered over the lush green valley below, gardeners with goats, cows, dog in tow heading to their respective plots of land before the sun rose. We all greeted each other.

The roar of the river was much louder with the banging of huge rocks whenever it rained heavily in the hills.   Whatever was its payload, it flowed easily and gracefully on its way down passing close enough to the Botanical Gardens and EL Rose Lime Estates, helplessly along the foothills of Saint Aroma, and precariously close to River Street.  Far above it were the cliffs that held up Goodwill, and properties of the upper-end citizens.

At the very beginning of this winding river, a supply of water was pumped to fuel the turbines of the  Hydro-Electric Plant, CDC,  that was stationed close to the basin at the foot of the Falls.  Our electricity by the genius of engineers at the time utilized that source of water before it snaked it’s way finally into the Caribbean Sea.

 The scenery was paradise on Earth, peaceful and serene. Year-round the atmosphere was comfortably cool. I heard it still is. Everyone was respectful, kind, sometimes puerile.

In my mid-teens, I dropped out of High School to help my rheumatoid-arthritic stricken old man who suffered immensely to the end with degenerative disc illnesses in the spine bone causing muscular discomfort that limited his movements to stiffness in the lower back, pelvic and lower limbs.

 I do not regret my decision to this day ever to Go DAD instead of……. MHSRIP.

The atmosphere for me at the time was kind of like the one portrayed in the video sang by Snoop Dogg & Wiz Khalifa – Young, Wild and Free   Minus the WEED!  Never did.  My parents work ethics were fused into my DNA, Muscles, Tissues.  They abhorred idleness.

My father, Emanuel J Thomas, a rather self-assuring man who started his economic journey by being a waiter at the Club MiLate, at the foot of Morne Bruce.  He liked his blackness.  My mother, on the other hand, was a  huckster crossing the channels between the close-by islands in locally made canoes.  She had the looks with an intimidating smile but was way lighter in complexion, and faced grimmer hazards.   My mom was powerfully built and physically strong.  Her personality was very imposing and when she spoke men listened;  feared no one.  She suppressed her fears of the channels like a sea warrior to face the challenges between Portsmouth and Marie Galante in the north and from Scotts Head to the entry point of Saint Pierre in Martinique.    Dad grew in his job; so did his ambition.

They both were self-possessed but never self-absorbed. They toiled from sunrise and beyond sunset.  Together they hoped feverishly, took chances in the late forties, fifties, sixties to build a very successful wholesale import and retail business prior to the start of the seventies.  They helped others along the way.  Hardly anyone else I knew labored more zealously or continuously like my parents who stared poverty in the face, overcame reasonable obstacles towards the cause of building their success.  Never for a moment did they slacken.  The original Astaphans may have liked that about them and wanted to also to learn from a worthy pair on how to best assimilate in their brand new country, Dominica.  They trusted them. It was maybe a good idea to be seen with the popular locals.

The Astaphans – Waddy and Johnny – now deceased, were my godparents at my baby christening and also at my confirmation at age 14,  in the Catholic Church.  “We were family”.  Nurse  Giraud, CEO of Eric’s Bakery and Ms Eileen Burton of Fields Lane were the other two.  They all gave me reasons to love them immensely.  Just to throw in, maybe, a brow-raiser.  May the Lord’s Perpetual Light shine on their souls always.

There was much for me to learn and apply in the form of strategies and wizardry customer relationship from these Lebanon-born business gurus and classy grounded Dominican ladies.   My sincere condolences and best regards to mother Norma Astaphan, uncle Issa, the boys Pierre and Tony and their two sisters.  I have not laid my eyes on them for ages.

But say it ain’t so!  The young Dominican bred ‘eagle’  was shot in mid-air. I had very little time to combine the business acumen of my father and that of the Astaphans and others that were at my disposal.

Are you beginning to taste the gist of my story?  OK!  Leh we go! In the style and flair of YouTube star Trinidadian Daniel in Try Not To Laugh – What Yuh Know. But this is far deeper in substance and reality.

Moving on to less exuberating moments, a year that scarred me for the rest of my life.  I’m just being truthful.

Excuse my narrative here:  Even though you are not the one(s) to light the cigarette to your mouth (second-hand smoke) or in this case directly experience the violence, the crimes and carnage of that year, you too, us,  will be subject to the negative energy created socially.   There will be climatic impacts, various consequences –  generations later. It is just the way the  Rhythms and Laws of the Universe operates.  So too, we are  “conduits”  to our children who will learn from our expressions ( in overheard conversations)  of hateful, destructive anger.

The behavior and habits of children are shaped by negative or positive experiences and of course, becomes cemented in their vital years.   In extreme cases, the use of hostility by elders, or role leaders is absorbed by the youngest people of the nation.   The older people who are participants on any given day in destroying people or property, as well as those who condone the ravages of violence, are also sending a negative message way into the future of those kids who are mere spectators.

It will hurt us all in time to come, directly or indirectly.  Don’t be fooled; children know what’s going on.  If you see something (especially bad), say something.  Just be aware that whatever one validates in life lives on…. Continually at all levels of society.  Not only God but our kids are watching us.  There is an old adage “The hands that rock whoever is in the cradle will one day rule the World”.  Whether his or her office it is to be on an island under the sun or a Continent the future only knows. That’s a  Universal  Truth.

 

Complicit Silence =  Violence  =  Self Destruction

The statesman Edmund Burke of the 1700s nailed it when he said to all who would listen “ the only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” I will add of mine not even when they are made aware of acts of sheer inhumanity done to others.  Another learned man maintains sociological experiences shapes human behaviour in the future – both good or bad.

It’s as true today as it were hundreds of years ago – except for now, in modern times the sin of giving in to political apathy in the Caribbean can be extended to women too.

A scenario for real!  If you as a grandparent, from absolutely nothing,  had toiled for decades to leave your child an established wholesale business or profession that an aspired group of political dreamers destroyed – 30 plus years later – to the roots, in a night and a day, I think it is important you feel something reading this.

To those who masterminded and festered the crowds into a frenzy to do the dirty “political” work needed to effectively intimidate and pulverize those with dissenting views. The smashing, the ramming, pickaxing of the doors of shops, ransacking stores, homes, just plain egregious looting.   The organizers shouted on: “loot don’t burn”.

To compensate their daringness, looted merchandise were carted away in trucks, vans, cars, wheel-barrows, or the old fashioned wooden-bed-frame carts with huge metal wheels used by stevedores of the time. All night and days.

Or on the shoulders or heads of those who did not have access to a vehicle or worthy transportation.  Their skins and clothing were bathed in sweat and drippings of looted goods: oil, flour, liquor…. I witnessed what human frenzies that week at my expense.  “Tit-te-wee” on steroids – but ironically they targeted only certain individuals. Why not every store like we see in America post-George Floyd debacle.

Hhmmpphh!   Jealousy like Racism is a Virus. An opportunity to break-in and grab……

Blocking of roads, placing fire cocktails-bombs under cars.  Many attempts to fire-bomb a palatial home of mine (at Trafalgar) were squelched with a bucket-brigade of our own.  I learnt from mom about putting out fires before the truck arrived. Not that one would ever come.  All of this rampage was orchestrated to leave no stone unturned to economically annihilate one individual in particular.   This Rabid Craziness under the seeming umbrella of protesting had a life of its own.

The CSAgents/Charlatans / Clan/Cohorts (under orders) to troll and harass, fire-bomb, and to stone glass windows of houses of private citizens who were minding their own businesses, day and night, who may have had simple political affiliations different to theirs.  I had none up to 1979. They were a self-mobilized “force” with a person or two or three or four…. in the lead who had a rifle or revolver. That harassment went on for several weeks until King David arrived. No Bible talk meant here.  Many people were terrified to their core.

Back to the Looting. Imported and locally built Furnishings, Personal belongings, Jewelry, Clothing-fine,  money-safes, 2 vaults,  with dry cash (lots) were stolen. I will not disclose here the approximate value of the imported inventory/merchandise that were carted away in open daylight too. My loss was astronomical.

 

The band of the wicked enclosed me, as the Lioness waited on its opportune time.

The police force never lifted a finger.  Well, a handful of officers did visit a few times at nights (under the cover of darkness) at Trafalgar to play dominoes and show some compassion to this young “boyee” who had it all and had it all destroyed in a night and a day…..  The scraps were left for the poorer folks to pick-up days later.  How comes?  Police officers visiting you?   SEE!.  I was the main and only supplier of the new police headquarters canteen operated by officer Carbon.

BMWs, a 600series,  2 – 504 Peugeots,  350 Ford and 150 Van, a passenger Bus, a Bedford 4 ton Truck with a wood box (daddy’s), houses, all were in the shooting sights of the attackers.  And of course, a flourishing business enterprise with benefits.  There were two failed attempts made to burn especially the BMW in the dead of night.

Do not lose sight that this was owned by a very young BLACK Boye in an Elitist Country in the Mid 70s..

I was later able to leave the Island soon after Hurricane David struck.  In the commotion, and aftermath of the storm which dealt a severe blow to the southern part of the Island, Roseau.  Everyone was scampering and were now in some turmoil of their own. I quietly left with a BMW which I had purchased in London in 1978.  In the boot compartment and rear seat, I stuffed the little personal effects I had LEFT en route to Antigua where I stayed for 4 years.   Oh yes, with a top of the line, state of the art Stereo System.  Composed of preamplifiers, amplifiers, turntables, 10,000 Watts per speaker (2)  with high resonant tweeters, subwoofers,  and 21-inch base speakers.     I was able to guard those with my life.

With the help of one of my most trusted employee, Castle Bruce born (?) Moses residing in Newtown.   Between broker Wyllis and Moses, those items were camouflaged and shipped out to Antigua, individually.  It was a system ideally suited for the Valley.  The sounds reached as far as Laudat, Woton Waven, Morne Prosper and a little beyond with little distortion.

So when Hurricane David came knocking:  Sadly in one way, happy in another,  it was a cover for my exit.  It was The Equalizer…

We were gone!  I had no choice but to leave.  When an informant of the CSA rioters called me by phone at 10 pm.  He was a former employee of mine.  “Mr Thomas they are gathering river rocks on the upstairs building of – their office-  to dump on your vehicle whatever day you drive up to Kennedy Ave just beyond the well known “4 Corners”.  Your vehicle would be stopped by a crowd to facilitate the ‘rocks to be dumped from above.’ I knew my life and my fiancée at the time were at risk. I left quietly never to return till this day.

It was hard to leave behind my ageing mother under those conditions at the mercy of the villagers, and our gardeners to look over her at Trafalgar…  Sadly,  The dreams, the energy used up in decades of Hard Hard Hard Work, STEP by STEP to Earn in Earnest only to be left-back, laid in ruins.  I understood how humankind can walk away from what is special to them. Thank God we did not sell our souls to achieve the prosperity the Universe allowed.

In Antigua I was in the neighbourhood of the famous Richards’ family;  just a  few steps away.  Viv and Merv exchanged visits occasionally.  The dad was wheelchair-bound from a stroke that paralyzed him a few years before we got there.

My first experience to be “quarantined” came to me in Antigua.  Not from an invisible Virus but a person, a Human Being.  That summer year I had left with Viv and some Antiguan locals to a Test Match, West Indies vs England played in Bridgetown, Barbados.  It was an exciting game to watch.  To see the Kalicharans, Rowes, Boycotts…  But joy soon turns into anxiety when I received a call the day after the game ended that Antiguan Immigration Officers and Detectives were at my flat in Antigua, asking questions, and pawing over any paperwork in sight.

I quickly flew back.  I was approached the next morning at my duplex, where a Cools Lartigue gentleman a young businessman stayed in the adjoining side. The tall knock-kneed, no-nonsense looking Head of Immigration pushed his way through the sliding doors of my pad to ask me a few questions and I was to report to the Immigration Head Office  ASAP.

I walked in by 8:30 the next day. In person and without a witness I, again,  categorically denied the accusation leveled at me . What was it?  It had to do with certain Dominicans who had visited Antigua to meet with foreigners with an audacious plot to take over the government and the island of Dominica.

But there was so much evidence on the side of my innocence which provided no grounds for my arrest.  By divine design;  living just across the street from me was a Mr. L Stephens a well trusted and reliable inside man, and Permanent Secretary to Papa Bird, the prime minister of Antigua and Barbuda.  We had quickly become good friends before I knew of his role in the Antiguan Government.  I discovered his importance in the cabinet of Sir Bird only when all the “shit” started to splash.  Other reputable neighbors were asked questions about me;  who had they seen visiting me in the last few days or weeks, their answers all cleared me.  Totally!

In the meantime, my passport for precautionary reasons was frozen.  I was to report to immigration every Monday.  Days later,  I was asked to meet with three detectives from Dominica.  Mr. Stephens came over the night before and impressed upon me the need for me to have legal representation.  He was worried about me. I complied, he asked a reputable attorney of the country to meet the officers and me at the lawyer’s office.

My responses, my strong denial got the attention of all in the small conference room. The conclusion made by the attorney who said “based on the statements of the people who were interviewed by the police and listening to Mr Thomas in our presence describing where he was (his passports supports that unequivocally)  in the days your people thought he was up to no good. Sorry, there is absolutely no evidence of foul play to cause suspicion”.

The hearing was over in about 30 minutes.   My passport was later returned to me the following month and no longer did I have to report weekly to immigration.  Say e Wah!  Guess who back in Dominica was desk slapping mad.  Yes Sir, Yes Maam!

From the proverbial frying pan to the banquet table.  Never before was I so elated to attend a Public Function.  I was invited, months later, to an exquisite state-dinner held for the Prime Minister Sir Vere Cornwall Bird at the Castle Harbor overlooking St Johns, the capital. There were dignitaries from all over the Caribbean with the noticeable absence of one person.  I was positioned a few seats to the right in the second row from “Papa Bird”.

I had been to a couple of state-sponsored banquets before. A favorite recollection of mine was meeting up close the newly crowned Miss Penny Commissiong of Trinidad at the opening of the Sisserou Hotel.   She won the Miss Universe competition in 1977, becoming the first woman from the Caribbean and first woman of African ancestry to be crowned – the smartest and beautiful woman in the whole universe.  Prime Minister Eric Gary was one of the many dignitaries present.

Besides the neat and stylishly dressed way of my father I had never before seen another Caribbean male, coiffured, and so well put together with a commanding manner like Sir Gary.  Well, probably Sir Garfield Sobers who I met elsewhere, later. The political leader of Grenada had a remarkable figure; his voice rang out clear and true.  His “cool night shadiness” of a complexion. He was impeccably dressed as he stepped impressively around the illustrious guests.  The fairest women of the night gave him lots of attention.

 He is now deceased; died a long time ago, away from his beloved native Grenada.

 That prestigious invitation and moment in Antigua sure meant a lot to me at the time. The Dame whose wish was to bring me back from Antigua, in cuffs, had failed.  Never mind the political contacts, investments, family ties she had in the country and of course, the flying in of 3 police officers headed by Inspector Toulon to talk to me and government officials.

In another instance previously, she also interrupted the validation of my Canadian papers. An immigration agent in Canada was invited to come to Dominica to further investigate.  He actually went to the house of my mother-in-law at Marigot.  In the end, my application status was denied. Inspite of making substantial cash deposits in a Canadian Bank on the mainland.

My freedom was challenged constantly for years and years by this woman wherever I traveled or I wanted to migrate to – her interest, based on past emotions and anger.  It should not be based on any of those things. How dubious I felt that she lead the country under the banner of Freedom Party.

That personal vendetta aimed at me stems from the “head booting” years between my parents and her and her father, JB.. and their Penny Bank policies which later became Cooperative Bank.  It was in a new location away from the corner of Kennedy and Old Street.  When all of this contention started I was maybe a newborn at the time.

My good-hearted father was a popular go-to guy to sign as a surety on behalf of the little man and even a few bourgeois who were found themselves financially strapped.  When those wheels of commerce came off, it was never pretty. My father would not allow a person’s land deed or their property to be usurped by the Bank for a few hundred or a couple thousand dollars.  He knew the struggle very well.  “Boise”,  as a younger man, had overheard many disturbing conversations at the Club while serving there as a young waiter. They whispered sentiments like  “these meddling low-class people, come see come sa, should be kept in and know their place”. “Haw, Haw, Haw, he, he, he” the women responded in a lower decibel, left-gloved-hand to partially cover their lips.  The rule was~ don’t let the other person see your teeth when laughing.  ETIQUETTE!

Have you ever wondered about the native song way back: “ pas kitay yo prends Dominique (from us).”  Hmmpph! Who on G-Ds green earth were the takers?

On weekends the  ‘Council’  met agreed and disagreed, pry and discord over tea,  munching on Elizabethan style sandwiches and biscuits, éclairs, cream puffs, whiskey and cocktails served in designated glasses and proper cutlery.  Members were whites, half whites and brown paper coloreds with soft curly hair, the Elitists.

The ‘pway ji jay’ Group of the Tennis Pavilion.  Let’s leave it at that with the evidence to justify my labeling:  ‘Eternal Vindictiveness/Discrimination Rages On’. In the end, it is wasted energy of the heart. So be it~ in the tween time my dear mom who wanted it all for me got very sick. I was able to Medi-Vac mother to Antigua where she died months later in dignity.  She was buried on Antiguan soil.  A few Antiguans and her granddaughter, Alethea Shillingford, were in attendance. Also, there was the person who called from Roseau to give me the blood-chilling news in Antigua that my mom’s health was declining sharply, Ms Nilthia Dyer.   Since I could not be there in person she volunteered to be on the flight to accompany my stretcher bound mom carried from her partially destroyed home at Trafalgar, to Melville Hall en route to Antigua… I waited and was torn within to see my one time giant…

To you, Miss Clayron J Bethel  MYSRIP* in the bosom of Eternity. Praises to YHWH!

Thank You BIGGIE MaMa for the guts you gave me to endure what Dominicans did to me relentlessly in 1979.  As a child, I saw you, help firemen, literally, in putting out block size fires. I overheard and remember Fire Chief Penderlith coming over days later to congratulate and thank you for your immense courage in saving the lives of all the sleeping guests that Sunday morning at the enormous Paz Hotel fire opposite the Caribe Cinema on Old Street that spread into 4 blocks.  I witnessed your mom organize a bucket brigade along with the two fire trucks feverishly trying to put out one of the biggest “hellfire” in your time and mine in Roseau. The fire started at 2 am.  She was instrumental in having the fire-fighters go upstairs of a building across from the Hit Parade and close to Sutton Hotel to rescue old man Airde who she knew was very limited in movement. H.H.V. Whitchurch, Cable and Wireless to name a few replaced the completely charred-to-the-ground business places.

Our store next to the Caribe Cinema survived. One of the few times I cried and saw you cry in my lifetime was when I saw you sobbing and hollering in pain and collapsing in total exhaustion when you crawled onto your high 4 poster bed.  She was a woman with the heart of a sailor, the bravery of a firefighter who ran towards a flaming building when others ran away.  The heart of a compassionate nun she had on Sundays or whenever a need by others caught her attention.
When she was in the mood to philosophize, her favorite thing to do was to hold up her hand, with a thumb that was broken and did not set back or aligned properly, she would hold the hand up with open fingers, saying we were not created equal to progress and grabbing opportunities.  But when the same hand is balled together we are all ONE.

Human beings flee from a country where rule of law is disregarded or trampled on, flee to a nation where law is exalted, even where some imperfection may be observed in its practice.  But to be singled out,  Unhh Unhh!  Due process is encapsulated within a bundle of rights that includes the right to be FREE from unlawful searches and harassment and groundless accusations.

So from 1979, I had to make a choice between liberty, false imprisonment or mysterious death. I chose self-exile. Anyway, not much was left back home to return to.  Whatever properties that were left standing prior to the coming of  The Equalizer, David, was smacked by Her..  Doors and windows were unhinged and literally carried away. My life too as a wide-eyed entrepreneur with a plan to achieve even greater things in the future was already destroyed psychologically, emotionally and physically at the hands of people who were my fellow citizens.  Guys and Gals that I  once drank, dined and partied, “dingolayed” with (some)  sometimes, and had helped financially.   “Dingolay” made famous by Shadow of TnT,  and years later adapted in Creole and sung by our beautiful, talented Ms Ophelia Marie Olivachee. Go listen to it.

Years later in my dreams, I would still hear their laughter, chants,  jeering, threats to cause bodily harm.  The billowing smoke from a vehicle.  I was shamed and made a spectacle of in a very big, elaborate way.  I Forgive U guys.  But!  I learnt this:  Don’t be fooled by a smile or a hug or even a kiss.  Should have known that had I paid close attention to Sunday Scriptures read at church leading up to the Lenten Season and Holy Week.

My faith in G_D and bible verses has soothed my mind greatly in the last 10 years.

So dear mothers and fathers, brothers and sisters, Just in case you didn’t know,  remaining silent when grievous injustice is meted out to another person at that level perpetuates a trend into the future that broods destructive social behavior patterns with strange consequences.

Like my people would say “until…..all the chick-chicks come home to roost”.   I doubt Google can explain that odd saying but Older folks should know of it. Such tragic paradigms should not be allowed or tolerated because it does not directly affect you or another person you don’t know personally.

But this I must state here.  No one had the testicular drive or political potency or fortitude to Stand Up at the time when and while all this went on and on.  Oops!  “Estrogenia” ruled with electoral savviness and might in speech.

 A Dominican, under Truth Be Told, once posted this:  “When have we stepped out of line? LORD! Are we not supposed to be peacemakers? The Beatitudes. LORD! I am in pain Lord for I know that we are a rebellious people like the Israelites. We hurt. destroy others with no remorse. We hate, envy with no remorse. We lead astray. When we should say peace, we say things with no facts whatsoever. We see some persons incite and take advantage of those who are less intelligent than us. We promote war, strife & want to have a civil war but LORD I plead to call upon you to intervene (tears), Have mercy for we are a rebellious people…”

Here I want to call to mind an old favorite song to Mr Truth….”Slipping into Darkness” by War in 1971. Listen to it.

I have never been incarcerated.  Thanks, my Savior.  But, In a sudden and unexpected swoosh my hard-earned wealth that spanned over decades, my LIVELIHOOD WAS COMPLETELY TAKEN AWAY – Destroyed.   Into Your Hands, I place my losses, RABBI.

The reality of Mr. Archie Williams fits almost snuggly with mine.  Recently freed as a prisoner who was wrongly sentenced in the US, Mr.  Williams gave a background of his life story on America Got Talent before he went into singing. He then blew his audience away.  To the amazement of everyone including the original singer, Elton John, who called in, Williams sang this popular title “Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me” – nor allow darkness to take over my life. It was a snug-fitting selection for him and I’m glad he had the voice to deliver…

We both lost a lot in our prime years, so much.  He lost his freedom, his youth, his potential while sitting behind bars for 37 years for a crime he did not commit.  My  tragic loss came while I was  in my late twenties.  Lost contact with family members, godparents and sponsors, my spiritual and temporal benefactors, school mates,  my school teachers, neighbors, the neighborhood clowns who made me laugh at their antics.  They were people who were good to me and vice versa.  I had done nothing to deserve that life-crushing, life-changing,  travesty, ferocious, brutal, violent, ruthless attack on me in my own country that we hail to be a DEMOCRACY,  a multi-party democracy.  Citizens became the police force of the day, the week the months.

Citizens went  to war with other helpless, unarmed citizens. It was a constitutional travesty and failure big time in the year of 1979. Let’s examine this statement below.  It should bring you to an inflection point.

Mr. Skerrit, our political leader of international stature,  in a recent remark attributing criticism of the work of the government to “a culture of ingratitude in the soul of Dominicans.”    How So? A Dedicated Christian Nation?  Could this be safely labeled as an abomination?  Or is it plain truth-speaking.  I am no theological scholar by a long shot. Let’s go off the cuff here for a moment.  My country Dominica is supposed to be the largest of the islands in Windwards and Leewards.  I always wonder why is our population smaller, in most cases, and stagnant or dwindling in numbers compared to our neighbors.?  Why do fewer of the elders return permanently?

Another leader at a Sunday ceremony in collaboration with a faith-based organization at Windsor Park said this to the attendees and the Nation who were listening: “ I urge you (Dominicans) to put G_d at the forefront of your lives.”
“ I REDEDICATE the Commonwealth of Dominica to our creator (small c intended) ….continue to bless, protect, preserve this nation and its people now and forever”.

Hhmmpph?  I am drawing no conclusions here on such a timely event. Someone commented later, in support, that Dominica really needs to RETURN to G_d and Godly practices.  Many more supported the REDDEDICATION event.  Someone also asked if my appeal here is to the people of conscience  standing at the crossroads of right and wrong .  Just as a virus needs a host(s) to spread and eventually to become a pandemic the same is true about violence.  Worse yet, those who choose to remain as onlookers are equally dangerous. Their complacency makes them liable to be blamed for the mushrooming of civil disobedience in the future. America is finding that out as you read my story, based on their unfinished business which they started on the Continent of Africa in the 1700s or a little earlier.  Our Savior in Human Form experienced and felt that forward and backhanded slap to His humanity from His own people.  He knows full well what it is to be treated like the dust of the earth beneath one’s sandals.  Hailed one day’, “Crucify Him” the next.  That gives me courage to live on as sad as the experience was and is. The one difference HE never got angry.  I arise in the morning without muscular pain to praise my G_D for another day. I’m Thankful to hear the chirping of birds in my little garden. Seeing the sunrise to its rightful place in a blue sky. To enjoy a cup of steeped Red Rose tea.  And Later in the morning, a good breakfast.  I still have a decent appetite.  As well as a  strong sense of humor.  Thanks to the healthy, untainted elements of the air I breathed as a child, and a young A special shout-out to my brother Kiwi in Trafalgar, and to all <Water Fallcans< of old and new now residing in Nature’s Gem.  Sincere greetings to my growing-up friends Willie Gregoire, Rafo, Earl Laurent, Peter Charles, Henry George, M.W. R……

I entice everyone in general reading my life story, especially youngsters, to pluck – download – cherish –  the words of La Desiderata and treasure them; in addition to your daily dosage of Bible Scriptures.  Our souls have to be medicated in a troubling world. We are being infiltrated by powers and beings on earth and in the skies. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but really against principalities, the rulers and acolytes of darkness in high places…
NO MATTER WHAT HAPPENS according to the lyricist Judith Gale “Stay With God”.  KEEP YOUR EYES ON CALVARY.  There HE left and there HE shall return.

Stay Safe!  Y’all!  G_D Blessings to my lost love, my lovely island, DOMINICA.

Is it our  once-popular GayLords group in my youth or Skylar Grey of the present, who sang “I’m Coming-Going Home.” Your Pick!  70s or 2020s.  It’s All Good!   “It Is Well With My Soul”.   Even if you can’t hold a note like me….join me in singing on https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bzxWhUv8dyg

I am so happy as a Dominican to be heard finally.  A few back home in the days mistakenly called me “Eugene” instead of Nugent.

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23 Comments

  1. July 20, 2020

    True say the man came from school to his mom & dad shop to help so he can run their business when they retire never had time for sports or to play few friends he had was at school. I can say this because i went to school with him. Up to the time his dad pass and he was in the shop with his mom i went there some times and lend a hand. He was also of great help to me when I need assistance it is very hart breaking to know what he went through stay strong bro.

  2. Amarossa
    July 20, 2020

    8-O 8-O what a rambling, disconnected, senseless tale! Full of innuendo but stating nothing! Man if you want to unload, you should do it with a ghost-writer, because writing is not your strength. At all!
    I don’t think any young person learnt anything of value from that Era from your ramblings.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 8 Thumb down 25
    • Dorian E Shillingford
      July 20, 2020

      Agreed….That was so hard to read. I kept skipping and hoping to get to a point of clarity, but it just went on and on…dare I say it, like water falling from the Trafalgar falls. Think I got the gist but alas, the points are totally lost on me.

      Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 4 Thumb down 5
      • The Truth Be Told
        July 21, 2020

        Dorian stop this. I understood every bit of it. Not all of us can write well as you. Go ahead and do some teaching lessons on the internet (virtual). Mr. Thomas would gladly take part. Perhaps I would join. Shillingford, are you one of them? hmmm. This young man was harassed and had to run away. Some gros boug back did not like to see us rise. Creme Roseau always thought we would achieve but we have achieved. Talk about racism. It was so back then. Now hypocrisy – Black lives matter but black and mullato did not like black back then. Even now black people killing their own. Remember the Creator is not a racist. The earth and the fulness belong to him. Fullness includes all men whether black, red, Carib, Amerindian nous tout. Be mindful all!

        Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 1
      • EJ Thomas
        July 23, 2020

        Dear Mr D Shillingford
        Never mind the hewing of my story for a lack of intoxicating intelligence to impress. Thanks all the same for your “sanctimonious” compliment on my flow of words “like a waterfall”. I am also thankful that my vocal box was not amputated and my brains not snuffed out in 1979. Here is a SIOUX prayer to you and the very FEW who are in agreement with your cynicism: “Oh great spirit, keep me from judging a man until I have walked a mile in his moccasins”.

    • The Truth Be Told
      July 21, 2020

      Amarossa disgusting indeed. This comes from the heart of Mr. Nugent Thomas. If you are too young to know, then ask someone older to tell you about 1979. Amarossa, I knew Ma Claron, Mr. Boysie. They had a shop where Jays is now located. And this young man has been a hard-working person not like some persons who think that anything someone has is someone who gave it to them. Please this is history. Get yourself educated. Ah, Chen! Stop being disrespectful to the elders.

      Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 1
  3. July 20, 2020

    what happened to my comment

    ADMIN: Your comments were published, please check again and let us know if you still don’t see them.

  4. yes i
    July 20, 2020

    who’s going to read that long fing :-?

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 11 Thumb down 25
    • De Enquirer
      July 24, 2020

      Dear Yes I,
      You can’t speak on behalf of others. Some of us are blessed with the mental capacity to engaged in prolonged reading that is well penned.
      Those with insatiable academic and historical appetite will not find it too “long” like you to read.

      Great job Mr. Thomas for re-acquainting our minds with the events of the past. Even today this unjust treatment of our fellowmen continue to prevail. When will our people learn to genuinely love each other and value the meaningful contributions they make towards development?

  5. Zandoli
    July 20, 2020

    I tried reading through this but eventually gave up. It was getting a bit tedious. There were just too many tangential distributaries to hold my attention.

    The essence of a good story is not the number of words you pack into it. Write the story, read it over and anything that does not add value should deleted deleted.

    This had the making of a good article but there were just too many distractions.

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 19 Thumb down 5
    • EJ
      July 22, 2020

      Mr Zandoli
      Say it ain’t dat. Thanks for your pedagogical response/offer to the writing of my story. Besides going to a Thesaurus, or a Writers HandBook in the future I would volunteer if offered to do a Online Course with you for the sole purpose of future story writing. Please respond ASAP before the lights go out. If not please allow me or others in the future to “branch off and flow” as they chose when telling THEIR story – not yours.
      Who is behind this Plume de Penn: ”too many tangential distrubutaries to hold my attention” Tch! Tch! Tch!

      Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0
  6. No name
    July 20, 2020

    ADMIN you keep deleting my response

    ADMIN: Your comment was not deleted, it just takes time for a comment to go through moderation. Check again and please let us know if you still don’t see it posted.

  7. BigBoxOfCornflakes
    July 19, 2020

    Phew! What an elaborate read! So in short you were broken, bruised and battered by your people for no just reason, and unnecessarily taunted and maligned, at length, by the now deceased and former Prime minister of Dominica. I am appalled and in a state of utter disbelief. History can be so un-pretty. And how quickly we forget. Missing from your story, is how you rose above. Would’ve loved to have read that. Also in your narrative, you sound a bit boastful, perhaps in efforts to paint a clear picture? Again I am trying to look past this and not lose sight of the moral of your life story. Thank you for sharing.

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 18 Thumb down 0
    • EJ Thomas
      July 22, 2020

      Clearly you are confused between boastfulness and what constitutes healthy pride in one’s personal’s worth, and friendships. Being in my twenties was I too Big for your Britches? I am sorry that you read MY story the wrong way. In the future kindly restraint yourself when others express or have a good feeling, in mentioning their personal or professional achievements. Never was I considered a braggart with a head too big for my head – not as a kid or teenager or a youngman . It took me forty long years to break my silence. Boastful people are CONSTANTLY TALKING about their accomplishments. Still, it is theirs they are entitled. Agree? Do you have anything to say about my LOSS that was in the millions?

      Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0
    • EJ
      July 22, 2020

      Mr BigBox! Phew! I must remember if and when I decide on writing a book it must be extremely thin. To the professors of English writing in DA, I was not publishing ideas, or writing a fantasy paper or a fictional plot I was freely writing my life story from childhood to my twenties, a little about my parents, about a serious tragedy that I experienced over 40 years ago at the hands of my people. In general reading anything on paper is an encounter. All one needs is the right mindset I am thankful to disciplined readers who are not grossly cynical. There is enough of those type of Bible readers to go around. Thank G _D for the many complaisant ones. Lastly, I am not a professional storyteller nor was I looking to post a best seller on DNO.

      People can be “un-pretty” but collectively they are part of a Beautiful World, Mr. Cornflakes.

  8. Bwa-Banday
    July 19, 2020

    Mr. Nugent, I enjoyed reading your article for the fact that it is laced with some good historical facts. However, I could not help noticing your affinity for being linked to the Elite wherever you roamed. It is clear that while you despised Eugenia and most likely for good reasons, you enjoyed hub-nobbing with the Birds, Astaphans, Eric Gary, Viv Rhards and the Antiguan elites/ big boys. Even making an attempt to push your nose in El Suprimo’s aharse when you don’t even know him. Boy oh boy!

    My friend, when the political elites fall so does the majority in their circle. Unfortunately that’s the fate you suffered in Dca and its about to happen again. Some of those you mentioned still continue to abuse Dcans today by making their way back in line with the corrupt political elite. Time to heal your soul by visiting your childhood home. You may just get to meet El Supremo before his reign come to a crashing halt. Just maybe that visit will liberate you.

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 17 Thumb down 2
    • EJ
      July 22, 2020

      Mr. BwaBanday?
      Thank You! But please do not dislike me anymore for mentioning the names of my god-parents, or people who welcomed me into their homes when my country folks had me on the run. Yes, they are famous, I did not choose them. They were my Samaritans at the time. Astaphans-my parents did at my christening as a baby. I learnt early from my parents to mix gracefully with the rich, famous, poor and homeless. My pass success as a child or teenager never made me conceited. Neither were my Mom and Pa. Do you have any rich or famous FRIENDS or have you ever dined with a head of state?. Again, sorry you saw my little Light under my Bushel as I was freewriting.
      My home is within my soul. Although it would be sure nice to visit the valley again. Please do not wish what you said “ the fate you suffered in D/ca is about to happen again”, on the country of your birth. Have you lost your soul? If I knew your birth name I would say a little prayer for you. Be Happy for others!

  9. Whocares
    July 19, 2020

    Three years after maria beating you still coming with David !!!! :mrgreen:

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 8 Thumb down 23
    • The Truth Be Told
      July 19, 2020

      Read Whocares. It is long but I urge you to read of a man who suffered the loss of his business in 1979. Sorry, Mr. Eugene – I remember the shop where Jays is right now. I remember Ma Claron. This is so heartbreaking to have kept this so long. I pray that God heals you which I know you have. Yes, forgiveness is good. But what sad story you went through. But he never leaves nor forsakes those that are his. I am also saying why all that riot over the black people and black people are killing theirs. I do not condone the killings of the black people in America and elsewhere but The Father
      I know is not a racist but it is “All lives matter”. Yes to be christlike means you have to love one another. No class, color, creed. God bless you and keep you, Nugent. but I would like to see how you look now.

      Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 3
    • No name
      July 20, 2020

      That was a heartless comment. You or your family must have been involved in his family’s demise all those years ago. They were good citizens of the country helping those who were not privileged and they were persecuted for it by those who felt that they shouldn’t have. 1979 was a trying time for a lot of people. Have a heart you could end up in the same situation.

      Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 13 Thumb down 0
    • July 20, 2020

      Whocares
      your comment you dont have a clue he is talking about. So you just cant read without commenting. We that understand where he is coming from is very happy to hear from him this out pour was long over due and very happy to know you let your feeling out i am sure you will have more to come i am looking forward to read more wishing the best you could not have said it better all the best to you brother.

      Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 13 Thumb down 0
      • Joseph John
        July 20, 2020

        You do not have to be a writer to break into print. You have to be a coward with a fake name to call a persons life experience a rambling
        May 1979 was one of the most memorable historical events in Dominica which displayed the mindset of opposition forces.
        You should thank Mr Thomas for his contribution. He certain educated readers about the rough side of Dominica.
        There are many people who can attest that what he wrote is the truth, including the staff of DNO.
        I too was an eye witness to this truth, and a victim. I know the man from boyhood. This is a person who began working from his early youth. He never had childhood or boys playing days.
        This piece is more than History. It is a testimony demonstrating God in our lives. From May 79 some people were taken to hell and back but the Lord rescued them and they are still alive today enjoying life out of Dominica.
        Mouth open, more stories will jump out. This is a source, a good and true source for History students.

        Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0
        • Joseph John
          July 21, 2020

          Thanks DNO for posting my comment TWICE twice. Can I get a double doctorate ?

          ADMIN: We are just that eager to see you what you have to say.

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