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Of heat and Garrison minds


St.Vincent and the Grenadines is like a country at war. Issues are spewed back and forth and everything becomes part of the armoury. The camps arm themselves daily with these issues and some of the ammunition comes from unlikely sources. The minefield is long and hot and all and sundry even outside of the camps toss the occasional grenades.{{more}} A question on an examination at one of our primary schools suggests that the country is made up mainly of duncey people who have kept the Queen as Head of State. If the question is suggesting that we are dunce for having the Queen as head of state, then we have been dunce for quite a long time. If it is that we are dunce for keeping her then the character who prepared that question is even more duncey for the main protagonists in our recent political encounter were at one where getting rid of the Queen was concerned. Where they parted ways was on how she was to be replaced. The heat is obviously having its impact for some of these things appear to make little sense to a normal, sane human being. Our Prime Minister’s speech about beers at the Gospel Fest came out of thin air. I have not heard his explanation and am not sure if it was just some kind of biblical picong or a sort of ice breaker. Whatever it was, it did not go down well, unlike the beers at the Gospel Fest that did not go down at all.

Relating to Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago

After the recent drama at Tivoli Gardens in Jamaica, we all became concerned to ensure that there was no possibility of those events happening here or in any other part of the Caribbean. The Jamaican crisis, apart from pointing to a political system that had become warped and gone awry, clearly highlighted the corruption in the security forces and in the body politic. So when our nation’s National Security adviser spoke out recently about corruption in our blessed country, the nation took a deep breath because what was important was perhaps what had not been said. Sir Vincent, who in the eyes of the infamous C.W Prescod Primary School Teacher/Examiner might be a King Duncey for keeping the Queen’s award, said forcefully and unapologetically, “I make no apologies to say that within our system there is corruption…I can tell you that we come about it every day where in the police, the prisons, in other areas, that there is corruption…”. Our concern is the corruption ‘in other areas’. What are these other areas? Not to have filled in that gap for us is to leave us guessing and thinking all sort of naughty and crazy thoughts. We also need to ask what is being done about that corruption wherever it raises its ugly head. Remember, “We come about it every day.” There is no hint at suspicion. It is categorical. It exists. The authorities cannot leave it alone. They have to act for otherwise we will begin to wonder if there are other “Gardens” in the making. It is, I believe, safe to say that we do not have garrison communities. What we have are garrison minds because we often do not allow anything to come in. Not a bad thing, some might say, depending on how you look at it.

One thing that recent developments in Trinidad and Tobago have demonstrated is that our people are to a large extent responsible for the monstrosity that our political system has become. The Chairman of the Peoples National Movement, of all persons, has post-PNM defeat dared to suggest that it is all about one man. Were the others sleeping? Was the nation asleep? We are famous for worshipping our leaders and following them blindly even if they are going down a precipice. As I reflect on it, despite all the glamour and bravado, the lives of the leaders of our countries must be lonely ones. They really do not know whom to trust, even if they think they do. Really they should begin to think some more about those who whisper in their ears and about those who always tell them that things are good and who agree with everything they say even before anything is said. Were I a political leader, and perhaps I can say it because I am not one, I would pay more attention to those who bring a critical eye to what is said and done rather than to those who are constantly clapping and who go out of their way to show how ultra-loyal they are.

The Calypso Season

We are now into the Calypso Season and the bards are having their say. They are following a long tradition in becoming the nation’s spokespersons as they sing what others fear to say. With the growth and popularity of soca music, most of our calypsonians are hardly bothering with road march material. They have settled for social and political commentary and I hasten to say that some development is needed in this area. Politicians will always be upset but that is the way it is. When the slaves sung their songs with ‘double-entendre’ meaning, the masters never understood what they were saying/singing and feared the worst, so the culture had to be stamped out. So they thought! Today our politicians are ultra-sensitive. Give them a chance they will do the same thing.

These days are extremely hot and the heat outside parallels the heat inside. It is now only June so it will get hotter still. Heat wears us down and forces us to act in ways that are sometimes strange. Let us prepare ourselves for the heat ahead but even now we need some cooling down.

Dr Adrian Fraser is a social commentator and historian.