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West Indian Politics, Cricket and Malcolm X

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Caribbean politicians are a strange breed of people. I have often wondered if it is the acquisition of power that makes them so or that individuals with certain personality traits become drawn to politics. I am raising this issue following the sad and almost comic development in the politics of St.Lucia. I refer, of course, to the news that Sir John Compton has opted to pull himself out of retirement and contest the leadership of the United Workers Party. This is not the first news on that front. {{more}}Before the last election he had formed an unholy alliance with George Odlum in an effort to topple the government of the St.Lucia Labour party. That alliance eventually got no where primarily because of the personality of the two leaders. So the 80 year old Compton is at it again.

Do these politicians not know when to quit and to remain so? Sir John has used the fact that Dr.Vaughn Lewis has so far failed to make a dent on the minds of the electorate to stage this come back. The efforts of Vaughn Lewis to control the party off-shore, that is from his position at the University of the West Indies, in Trinidad and Tobago, have faltered. Despite the fall in popularity of the Kenny Anthony government, Vaughn and his party are still behind in the polls, though within striking distance. So the octogenarian Sir John is prepared to step into what he considers a vacuum and believes no doubt that nature abhors a vacuum. This is bad news and is moreover absurd. Has someone willed the government of St. Lucia to John Compton? Furthermore what does this really say about the party and its leadership? Is it that in order to move forward they have to resurrect someone from the past? I will be extremely shocked if this move gains currency. It is a backward step and Sir John has to be out of his wits to even consider this.

I was tempted to say that there should be legislation barring such action, but if the people want to support such a decision then it is up to them and they would have to live with the consequences. Does Sir John believe that he is the only one who can save the party of which he was a central part for so long and by extension, St.Lucia? Or has he missed the exercise of power and the ability to hold the centre stage? It is my hope that the members of the UWP and the people of St.Lucia would reject such a retrograde step. Compton has obviously made a valuable contribution to the development of his country, but that is no justification for trying to impose himself on the country at this time. St.Lucia has to move forward or rather to continue to move forward and this would or should have nothing to do with the political resurrection of Sir John. He would have acquired a lot of experience during his long tenure in government. He can make this experience available to his party and country and not attempt to lead. Politicians are really something else!

Those West Indian Cricketers

While West Indians are at home losing sleep and stupesing their teeth over the dwindling fortunes of West Indian cricket, our boys are out there enjoying themselves and screwing the hopes of West Indians everywhere. Even if we were to believe that the report submitted by Richard Nowell, Digicel’s liaison officer would have been coloured and perhaps distorted, slightly or otherwise, the report is damning. No one who knows the West Indian cricketers and have seen them on tour regionally or outside the region can doubt the substance of what is conveyed in the report. Some of them did so badly that we can well imagine them having more telephone numbers of women than runs.

I was extremely upset when I saw pictures of Lara having a rollicking time at carnival, a few days after the team was soundly trashed in Australia. Lara batted atrociously and captained the team as if he was playing a goat match. It obviously did not bother him that his team dashed the hopes of the West Indian cricketing public. He was simply out to enjoy his carnival. A news release shortly after his return to the region was to the effect that he was asked to rest his hand for three weeks and not participate in any vigorous exercise. Yet Lara was seen with a woman actually lying in his arms. Was it that his mind was too strongly focused on carnival?

One hopes that the West Indies Cricket Board would take some action for this is an insult to the West Indian cricket fans and West Indians generally. Is this the first time that such a report was submitted to the Board? It would be strange if this was so. This was no brief excursion into the world of unprofessional conduct. So let us stay tuned and see the manner in which the matter will be dealt. I wonder how many of us would continue to deprive ourselves of sleep again to look at a group of men who have no sense of mission and really, no shame.

Malcolm X

Last Monday, February 21 was 40 years since the assassination of Malcolm X in the Audubon Ballroom in Harlem. Born Malcolm Little, Malcolm as he was later known went through a miraculous period of transformation, from crime, drugs and gaol to become one of the outstanding Black leaders of the modern civil rights struggle. Malcolm’s transformation began in gaol where he became a voracious reader delving into any books or reading material that he came across. He educated himself, joined the Nation of Islam and became a Black Muslim. He was an outstanding orator and a fearless debater who took on all comers in his efforts to defend black people and to advance the black cause.

He worked at first through the Nation of Islam and won hundreds of members for that body. Malcolm broke with the Nation two years before his brutal assassination. He visited Mecca and came back determined to internationalise the struggle and build coalitions even with white radicals and progressives. It is at this point that he became a serious threat to the establishment. Malcolm sought freedom for black people by ‘any means necessary’, standing in stark contrast to Martin Luther King who had embarked on a path earlier laid out by Ghandi. In fact Malcolm’s existence was of benefit to Martin Luther King to whom even those in the white establishment turned when faced with the violent rhetoric and aggression of Malcolm.

Malcolm’s life and struggles were later to be captured on film by Spike Lee with Denzil Washington putting on a sterling performance in his depiction of Malcolm. We remember at this time the life and struggles of Malcolm X, a truly outstanding leader, self-taught and focused on the struggles he undertook to rehabilitate the African and Afro-American past.

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