Â In Trinidad and Tobago, the citizens have developed a culture of criticizing their government between elections. What's new about that, you might ask? We do that as well. The thing is, Trinis have taken it a step further, and have moved beyond criticism to action -- to doing instead of saying, to taking pretty fundamental risks, and to suffering sometimes for their principles.If you've ever been to Port of Spain, you'll know that the Savannah is the citizens' pride and joy. It's the biggest roundabout in the world, they'll tell you, the biggest (or one of the biggest) urban green space in the region. And it's a centre of activity, of communal life; who doesn't congregate on the Savannah jogs or walks around it, or just buys food and drinks from the vendors around it. And of course, it's the centre of Carnival.But not every Trini has always respected it. Ten years ago, the government itself began to pave it over. This Trini tells about how she took a stand against the government. The risk to herself and some of her colleagues was very real -- she was, after all, a civil servant, governed by a set of General Orders very similar to those that govern me, and criticizing your employer is expressly prohibited.But sometimes it has to be done. This link tells the story.Save Our Savannah: Sitting at the CoffeewallahFor inspiration, here's how it ends:
That day I learnt about myself and my fellow man. I realised that regardless of personal cost, I would uphold my beliefs and do what I considered to be right. At the end of every relationship, if it was worth anything, you find that ground to keep going. That a lot of peoole shared our views but were too afraid of retaliation or paralysed by fear to DO anything. A lot of these people came afterward to share their thoughts or congratulate us on our bravery.It isn't about being brave, I have fears just like the next person but I believe unless you are willing to do something, you lose your voice and sometimes even your rights. In the eight years since that protest, I have continued to live my life with personal integrity, no job is worth losing yourself and your self respect. To this day, we continue to fight for the survival of the Savannah. I marvel that politicians who fight to distinguish themselves from each other are in fact really all the same for the most part. When will we learn?Would I do it again? In a hearbeat.