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 Bahamas Commentary

2005-09-16 09:34:43

Unethical Behaviour by Some Haitians

Could this change in the behaviours of some be signs of the corruption and dishonesty illustrated by some civil servants and other individuals in our society.

I have lived on Abaco for the past eight years. Before my arrival I never knew that the Haitian population was of such enormity on the island. Nevertheless, this revelation was of no concern to me as it is to some of the other residents.

As a teenager living in Nassau, I had the opportunity to live with one of the most gifted, talented, educated, loving and generous Haitians to ever grace our shores: Mr. Andre Toussaint, God rest the dead.

During the 60s and 70s, Andre preformed throughout Nassau making his indelible mark for those who could remember at the "Charlie' Charlie La Fin" night club on Delancy and Augusta Streets. To this day, Mr. Toussaint is also one of the least recognized musicians in The Bahamas for his contributions by his peers.

During my stay with Andre and his wonderful wife Rosemary in a house on Nassau Street, a stone's throw from the Cat and the Fiddle nightclub, I was taught lessons, principles and love for my fellowman that I still live by today.

One of the major life living teachings passed on to me by this Haitian family of high moral principles was to always speak the truth, no matter the consequences.

On Saturday September, 10, in Marsh Harbour, I had the misfortune of meeting the most unethical group of people in my life ever. It saddens me to say, they are Haitians. The group, comprised of female adults and children, raised serious concerns within me as to how Bahamians are viewed by some of them, or if certain Haitians are teaching their young how to become lawbreakers and proficient liars in the early stages of their development. Here are the facts that led to the cultivation of my concerns, and a few solutions.

This group of unscrupulous individuals was riding in a bus that should not have been allowed on the streets. I was driving behind them. The bus came to a stop at a main intersection. I stopped behind them. Suddenly the bus began to reverse into my vehicle. I leaned on my horn to no avail. I couldn't move out of the way because there was a car in the back of me leaving me with no alterative but to watch in horror, as the piece of junk collided into my SUV.

After the impact the driver did not follow one of the fundamental rules of driving, which is to come to a complete standstill after an accident. He moved his vehicle forward before he exited. I did not move mine.

When I came out of my SUV to examine the damage, I noticed it was not extensive. I was then prepared not to involve the police, thinking that the driver and I could work this minute matter out between us. The driver speaking in Creole and making hand gestures gave me the impression that he was accusing me of some sort of wrongdoing. This was when the multitude of women and children came out of the bus.

One of the ladies approached me and asked how much it would cost to repair the damage. I told her I could not say and we would need to consult an auto body repair person to receive a quote.

This was when the driver and his passenger's tones began to sound more rowdy. Even though I did not understand them, I gathered from their actions, he was not going to take any responsibility for causing the accident. I decided to call the police.

When the officer arrived and we were asked to give our accounts of what had taken place, to my amazement when asked, the driver indicated he spoke no English. He translated through, in my estimation, a 10-year-old little girl, one of the passengers of the bus. She told us he said that I had run into him. This I could not believe. I told the child that she should tell the truth because fibbing is a terrible thing. She looked me directly in the eyes and repeated what she had said previously. I then turned to the adults and asked, "How could you encourage this child to lie?" They said nothing.

By the time it took me to give my account of what transpired to the police, all the adults with the exception of the driver and the children had disappeared from the scene. I am of the opinion this was because some or all of them are here illegally.

The police requested us to come to the station. Once there they took statements from both of us. This time one of the young male passengers translated for the driver of the bus. To my astonishment, he gave the exact erroneously planned explanation of the accident as the little girl did previously.

If one reads The Bahamas' daily newspapers as I do, of late there is a very noticeable increase of individuals with Haitian last names associated with a lot of the crimes perpetrated in our country. In years past it was a rarity to read or hear about Haitians committing crimes. Nowadays, some are principals in murders, shootings, child molestations, stabbings, drug dealing, theft and also riots.

Could this change in the behaviours of some be signs of frustration? Or is it the ending results of what some are taught from young by some of their elders? Or maybe some have no respect for Bahamian law and order, after witnessing many of their brothers and sisters repatriated one week and returning to The Bahamas the following week? Or is it the corruption and dishonesty illustrated by some civil servants and other individuals in our society to blame?

Whatever the reason(s) this group of people carried out this despicable act using the innocence of children as their projectile is beyond my comprehension.

I cry shame on all adults regardless of their race, creed or colour, who encourage young impressionable minds to do wrong. God will deal with them. But in the meantime while we wait for divine intervention, I have a few suggestions if implemented, can bring forth positive results.

I suggest, any Bahamian found guilty of using a child/children to commit crimes or devious and wicked deeds of any kind, the Government should remove the child/children from their care until it is transparent that the parent(s) is rehabilitated. If the offence is committed for a second time, the youngster(s) is permanently kept away from the negative care giver until the legal adult age is reached.

In the case of foreigners convicted of the same. After they have served their sentence if there is one, any government granted status should be revoked and they should be deported to their home country along with their child/children. We have enough problems here with our own. Their government should also be informed of their deeds while in the Bahamas.

I also say, if an individual cannot speak English, they should not be able to qualify for any type of employment in the Bahamas, where the comprehension of language can make life and death differences. Imagine an English speaking construction worker on the ground floor of a building. A huge object is falling from above and the only person to see it falling is the co-worker who doesn't speak English. This is a perfect scenario for disaster.

We are an English speaking nation. When none English speaking individuals arrive in the Bahamas to engage in lengthy employment, they should be given a specified amount of time to learn at the least, Basic English. This should also be mandatory to obtain residency, work permits and driver's licences. All holders of Bahamian driver's licences should be required to comprehend the driver's hand book, issued by The Road Traffic Department. This is a necessity for all Bahamians who apply for a driver's licence; shouldn't the foreigners be mandated to do the same?

We should also have a squad of police officers who are fluent in Creole assigned to police stations nationally, where Haitians are a large part of the population. The officers with this qualification should not be publicized. One of them should always accompany investigative teams dispatched to probe matters involving Haitians.

This could result in the Desist of planning and the discussion of strategies in the presence of the police by the criminal intended, making it more difficult for them to outwit the law, and evade justice.

Even if the identities of some of the Creole speaking officers becomes known among the Haitian population, the constant rotation of these officers would make it impossible for them to know who understands their language and who don't.

I must admit the last suggestion is my favourite, because if the officer who responded to my call understood Creole, he may have overheard the hatching of their plans. It may have also been possible to arrest some of the adults and charge them with the obstruction of justice by instructing the children to lie. But on the other hand if that had happened, I may not have been inspired to write this letter.

This is why it's important that whenever we find reasons to be judgmental or to criticize individuals or a situation; we should also seek out ways to make improvements to the same. I am certain that there are many others out there who have lived through similar or maybe the same experience. Write in because we need as many suggestions as possible that could help keep a lid on this budding clash of cultures. Remember it is easy to point fingers and criticize, but it takes concern, in-depth thinking and last but not least love, to produce solutions.

Sincerely,
Gladstone "Stone" McEwan
Marsh Harbour, Abaco

 
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