It is cliched that leaders are born and not made. That I do believe. But what about those in society who are now causing this paradise called Jamaica too much pain. I speak of thugs, desperadoes, gunmen and murderers.
They are, I am convinced, made and nurtured in the home by their not-so-loving mothers, brutal fathers (when they show up) and the many ‘uncles’ who insert themselves intermittently in their lives when they stay overnight and eventually add to the expanding brood.
One day in 2003 at the place in the Clarendon hills called ‘Crawle’ or ‘Kraal’ fearless policeman Reneto Adams and his Crime Management Unit (CMU) went hunting for a gunman. His name was Bashington Douglas, aka Chen Chen.
On that crazy day, the CMU shot and killed two men and two women. The main target, Chen Chen escaped and about a week after, while he was in hiding from the police I met him at his hideout and spent an hour interviewing him.
He was quite short in stature and as I sat across from him sharing in his huge ganja spliff, I could easily understand how women would be repelled by him and still would desire to be with him sexually. Chen Chen was an awfully unpleasant person to look at. In plain language he was ugly. But even in the fear he exuded one could sense that some would see a morbid attraction to the evil in his eyes.
Almost immediately after his birth, his life was tossed into turbulence. More than virtual war was on leading up the election in 1980 and the house where he lived was burned to the ground by political gunmen supporting “the other side”.
In his teens he had done the rounds of being tossed from father to uncle to father again and then to the ultimate savior, the grandma. Growing up he was beaten up, beaten down, kicked away, grabbed in places and shunted from yard to yard. School was never among the list of his best friends and when I spoke with him he could not read nor write.
He earned his fierce reputation as the ‘don’ of Homestead in Spanish Town in the 1980’s, firing his gun on behalf of the political party whose blood ran through his veins, the JLP.
“Mi never grow up wid anybody. Is me wipe mi own nose and find food. Nobody check fi mi and mi neva care but me alright now” he said as he sucked on his spliff and passed it to me. “Di next time mi si di boy Adams, a gwine kill dat rass. Just watch mi!’” he said as tears ran down his face.
Chen Chen was eventually shot dead by the police. A few years after that I met “Captain Blacks” a man who used to be a part of the gang associated with the infamously evil Natty Morgan.
“When hard life take my mother she tek me from country and carry me fi live wid mi father in Riverton City. She just leave mi there at six year old, outside mi father gate wid no underwear”.
Blacks was highly intelligent but again, short in stature. “Is pure tump and box dung me grow up wid. When my modder leave me wid my father him deal wid mi fi awhile and then just carry mi go to one a him girlfriend, have sex wid har and leave me at har house”.
“Every time hunger tek har, she beat me up and all fling stone and run mi outa di yaad. So, me grow up feeling like me worse than a dog”.
One day in the 1980’s Blacks and an armed crony broke into a mansion in Forest Hills and while silently “looting out di place” as he described it, he came across the man of the house engaging in oral sex with his domestic helper.
They shot dead the man and his maid because he thought oral sex was worse than the worst sin. “The first time mi kill a man, it mek me feel like mi grow up fi di first time. When di girls dem in Riverton hear sey is me do di killing, mi get respect and nuff sex from dem”
I have spent 25 years in journalism and in that time, I have sat down with many gunmen and they have told me their life stories. Most of them are now mercifully dead, either shot dead by the police or their cronies, in conflict or in turf war.
Just about all of them were “dragged up” in their childhood and hardly ever had a full day of being loved, nurtured and groomed for adulthood. All were physically brutalized and psychologically stunted while still children. All began to hit back while still adolescents. All committed their first murder while they were teenagers. All dabbled in hard drugs.
A video on YouTube has been making the rounds of two purported gunmen, bleached face and all, speaking of their lives. One says, “Kill and collect”, indicating that he does hit jobs and the other says, “Smoke and forget”, which is the terrible indicator that to him life means squat. It can be smoked away in a draw of seasoned spliff.
“All a my friend dem a murderer” he goes on to say. I will take a bet that they all went through that brutality of their childhood where mothers beat them mercilessly and fathers, when they were around, kicked them from pillar to post.
A ‘retired’ gunman told me a few weeks ago that his life changed when he met a woman who he believed genuinely loved him. “I never had that before. Someone loving me just for me. I honestly never knew people could do that. It made me feel special and in time I began to see that what I was doing was coming from the terrible and wicked childhood I had.”
Even now as I write, another poor mother is beating up her infant child. She is making another Jamaican gunman.