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I can feel West End’s pain

The recent West End Warriors motorcade on Court Street (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

I remember my elementary school days very well and because I liked sport so much, I can particularly remember the great competition facing West End School and The Central School. I remember clearly the Lewis boys from Central, and Clyde Best and “Bully Beef” (Sheldon Bradshaw) from West End. Of course, there were in athletics the likes of Veldon Williams from Heron Bay School and, from my Ord Road school, Maywing Edness and Eugene “Veeny” Nusum, who were great sprinters. But in the main, West End and Central were virtually unstoppable.

From an academic perspective, I think most of the schools were on an even par to a large degree. Church was as much an influence on how a child progressed; moral conduct often was the determination as to whether a young child would flourish in school or end up on the streets. Naturally, it was the parents that weighed heaviest on the upbringing of the young to face adulthood in those days.

I can easily relate to the sentiments being expressed by the West End Warriors and their choosing of a sport name as the emblem of their struggle. Add to that, the churches in the area, where the children would assemble and walk to events such as Ash Wednesday. Somerset Cricket Club is just down the hill, with memories of Warren Simmons Ice Cream and Sherbet factory, and Baxter’s beef pies across the street. Most of the graduates continued on to Sandys Secondary School. All these things went towards building an entire community that is unique. Truthfully, if you listen carefully, Somerset people — particularly those who hung around Somerset Cricket Club — would have their own expressions and distinct accent. At what place other than Somerset would you hear someone say, “I bet you five creams”?

What kind of mind cannot comprehend the significance of the West End School to the Somerset community? Have we lost our senses? Watching the TNN video of a meeting held that many of the parishioners attended, from all appearances it was hot. Persons such as the normally quiet Larry “Muscles” Hunt, a local electrician and former footballer for Somerset Trojans, took to his feet and was encouraging everyone in the neighbourhood to come out to the meeting to be held with the Government. Scott Simmons was present but ominously silent and seemingly no other Somerset area MP was present. Predictably, the planned government meeting was suddenly cancelled the day before it was to be held. Tipped off?

The Government had intended to talk with only the teachers but the parents also wanted to be included and then finally the whole neighbourhood wanted to be heard. Then, oddly, the meeting was postponed once again after two other failed meetings.

Now this may sound sinister, but wasn’t this problem avoidable with a bit of foresight? Can we predict that David Burt, the Premier, will back down on this one and throw another minister under the bus? Isn’t this a pattern where he at the last minute comes to the rescue and solves a problem he created in the first place, then comes out as the hero because he finally listened? Why not think before acting and avoid the confusion — like choosing Jason Hayward over the person the branch wanted in Pembroke Central, then have to come back and heal a splinter in the party that he created, while taking the credit for doing so.

I think the public know the difference because none of those MPs would enjoy canvassing on the doorsteps of angry Somerset people. I know I wouldn’t know what to say in such circumstances. Going full speed ahead would be suicide; I don’t think he has an alternative. Unless he can turn it around to appear as the saviour who saved the West End School, to then be able to peacefully ride the white Cup Match horse in town and deliver the trophy as a hero rather than as a cruel heartless leader and villain.

The real but sad truth is the exodus of thousands of Bermudians sits at the feet of this government and, while closing schools may be functionally justified, it is based on the premise that those residents will never return and that the Bermuda economy and workforce will never recover to levels once enjoyed. Isn’t that a grim forecast of its own that we will not have a young, baby-making workforce to fill what school buildings we so desperately needed to fill in 1950? It would be a sad indictment to say that not only did this Progressive Labour Party destroy our economy but it took away our youth, and for what ends? So that a few leaders and friends can become wealthy?

There has to be a correlation between the bungling of millions of dollars going into unknown pockets during the Covid debacle and insufficient funds for education. Let’s hope no correlation is found. But then even more sinister is the real truth that maybe there is no need for all the bricks and mortar but rather more education and educational tools. Based on the history of this administration, the only persons guaranteed to benefit from all the physical upgrades are some contractors and those closely aligned with the administration. There is no guarantee any of the children will benefit or that education will improve.

The calamity that it is causing the East Enders cannot be for the benefit of the children from St George’s. We can clearly see the children will suffer so we must ask ourselves, who are the beneficiaries of this building scheme? I have been to countries, particularly in the West Indies, that have far fewer facilities but far more education. Why is that so?

“What’s it all about, Alfie? Are we meant to take more than we give?”

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Published May 04, 2023 at 8:00 am (Updated May 04, 2023 at 4:36 pm)

I can feel West End’s pain

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