Dons replace the fathers of fatherless children within their dominion. They win the loyalty of their army men by becoming fathers. I worked with young men from inner-city communities in a mentorship program who exposed me to the inner workings of donship. This is what I learned and concluded.
The dons give good gifts. One young man shared that in his community the don is known for shipping down barrels of shoes and clothes to distribute to the members of his community. He recalled with excitement how overjoyed boys were to get top brand sneakers. “Just take out what you want.” the don would say. The best way to calculate the significance of that kind of expression to a poor boy without a stable father figure in his life is to reflect on how you felt when your father or main male figure gave you gifts. The dons understand this.
The dons feed them. I gathered that feeding was infrequent but the student said the don would send the boys to a restaurant and tell them to order what they wanted whenever they complained of hunger.
The don protects. As long as they stay loyal to father, they can enjoy his protection. They are comforted by the promise that their lives will be avenged by their father if they are killed. They feel empowered by the thought that if they are offended by someone they can call on daddy to “bad dem up [threaten or hurt them]”. Children want to feel the safety of the sheltering arms of their father. They want to feel safe. The don provides safety. The don becomes their bastion, security and confidence to walk freely.
“Donship fatherhood” is engrained in inner-city culture. I learned that many boys who grow up under this kind of parental regime deeply love and respect their don. The love is so intense that they would die for them without blinking or thinking twice. It is really a work of hypnosis perfected by men who understand the importance of fatherhood in a young boy’s life. These fathers expect their pension in blood and breaths. It is a weaponization of the invisible force that binds human beings together - love. They use love as entrapment for their loyalist martyrs who affectionately call them abba. Dons understand that love connects and hate separates us. Of course, they use intimidation and fear to keep their children in order. Every good father scolds their children and uses the rod of correction. The dons know how to apportion those methods but their weapon of choice is love.
El Chappo and Pablo Escobar built armies in Mexico and Colombia using love tactics mixed with intimidation. They invest in the lives of young men. They give them more than guns and ammunition. I've watched documentaries in which ex-gangster led by the Latin American drug kingpins speak about their experiences of being in the family. A prominent practice was the fatherly acts of love and kindness performed by the drug lords. They helped the families of their gang members. When there was an illness, they helped. When there was death, they gave support. When there were personal victories, they celebrated with them. They spent lavishly on parties in which their gang members could bathe themselves in as much sex and alcohol they wanted; all at daddy's expense.
The boys I mentored were prepared to ignore the evils perpetrated by the don from their community because of what was done for them and the community. When I probed their awareness of the evils committed by these men they respect so deeply they went to great lengths to argue and justify it.
May 2010, Kingston Jamaica
Jamaica stood still under a State of Emergency in May 2010. The United States of America had issued an extradition warrant against the father of West Kingston. He had fed, protected, groomed and cared for his children well. His sons and daughters used their bodies to form human barricades against the artillery of the Jamaican army. They fought with guns, military whit and strategy that shook the nation into silence and fear. What was happening in Tivoli Gardens was not just a civil war as reported in international news.
"Jesus died for us, we will die for Dudus!" the adult children chanted.
He had been deified. This was a cult. Those were some of my initial thoughts. But years later, I encountered some of the teenage children who had experienced the love and fatherhood of a don. They were babes in 2010 but matured into the same trap of mind control years later. After reflecting on the cry of the sons and daughters from Downtown Kingston, I realized that he was their father and they were his children. That chant was more than a war cry. It was a declaration of sonship.