Posted on

Lucian elections: Don’t overstay welcome

Share

The dust has yet to settle on the outcome of this week’s general elections in St Lucia, so perhaps it is too early to draw definitive conclusions. However, given the nature of the results, a few comments can be made. First, in contradiction to all the pre-election polls about the election being “too close to call”, (predictions rejected by the then Labour Party government), the results turned out to be a shock for most outside observers. Not only did the governing party lose, but in electoral terms it lost decisively. The six seats it held, {{more}}including that of party leader Dr Kenny Anthony, were won with reduced, and in a couple cases, very slim margins. By contrast, the 11 seats won by the United Workers Party (UWP), came by convincing margins.

Speaking with St Lucians here in St Lucia, from where I am sending this column, the immediate cause of the rout of the Labour Party was put squarely at the feet of Dr Anthony, who was first elected in 1997 and was Prime Minister for three terms. On the eve of elections, one prominent farmer told me that he would not be surprised if the then Opposition won, because “it is not that people like Chastanet, (new Prime Minister Allan Chastanet), but they now dislike Kenny more”. The results would seem to corroborate that view.

So, what has happened? The post-mortem has already begun. However, there is a clear warning to long-serving politicians in the region to know when to leave the stage gracefully. Don’t overstay your welcome and then be unceremoniously kicked out, for it tarnishes all that has been accomplished. No one can doubt that Dr Anthony did a lot for St Lucia, but the ongoing economic malaise crippling the region means that all the woes would be attributed to you.

In addition, the need for fresh, not just faces, but approaches to problems, the absolute requirement of listening to the people and trying to respond to their needs, must be binding on all leaders. Those who do not follow these golden political rules will pay the price.

Finally, my congratulations to PM Chastanet and his team, for they face enormous challenges. There are many implications for this change of government in an important OECS country, but that is for a later article.

ALI, A TRUE CHAMPION IN ALL RESPECTS

Today, in his hometown of Louisville, Kentucky, the late, great Muhammad Ali will be laid to rest. Literally, hundreds of millions of people all over the world will be mourning his loss and celebrating his accomplishments. This is no mean feat for a black man from the heartland of racism in the USA, who was three-time champion in a sport, not very popular in today’s world.

But Muhammad Ali was not just a boxing champion, in his own words “the greatest” at that. He was also a champion of his people and of all oppressed people around the globe, a crusader for world peace and for religious respect and tolerance.

I always credit Arthur “Chief” Maloney, a schoolmate of mine, who went on to a successful career in banking, for making me aware of this extraordinary figure. As far back as 1960, schoolboys like me, avid followers of sport, had no television, no ESPN or Sportsmax to watch global sports events. We had to suffice from listening to BBC’s “Sports Round-up” and sometime newsreels in the cinema, or occasional film shows.

That was how I first followed the Rome Olympics of 1960, the one when Ali, then under his “slave name”, Cassius Clay, shot to fame by winning the heavyweight title. “Chief” was then the only person I knew who had access to a monthly sports magazine, “World Sports” which he generously shared with friends, who voraciously gobbled up its contents.

I have followed Ali since then, through the humiliation of being refused service in a restaurant in his hometown, after contributing to American triumph in the Olympics. I followed through his conversion to Islam, adopting the name Muhammad Ali, after rejecting his “slave name”.

That conversion also converged with the rise of the “Black Power” movement and my own conversion to its principles. There were a number of “Black Power” icons, brilliant men and women, but this boxer from Loiusville outshone them all on the global stge. “I am Black, I am beautiful”, was a message that resonated with black people brainwashed into believing that black indicated ugliness and that we should be ashamed of our colour.

More than this, his self-sacrifice, at the height of his career, in refusing to fight America’s war against the people of South-East Asia, was not only a rejection of an unjust war, but a powerful action for peace. His conversion to and promotion of Islam brought about awareness of this important religion in the West and helped to foster tolerance and respect.

I could go on and on. Ali became one of the titans of the 20th century, and one of the outstanding Black achievers of his time. May we all let our children and grandchildren know about him!

Renwick Rose is a community activist and social commentator.

LAST NEWS