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Thanks…..and….. Not ready

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A belated, but heartfelt thanks to my children for their overwhelming display of appreciation on the occasion of my recent 70th birthday. Thanks also to all those who participated, supported or sent greetings. What was very touching was the support and presence of my siblings, including my dear sister Toni, travelling from New York, replete with her daughter and granddaughter, and the magnificent role played by my nephew, executive chef Kamal Rose, whose culinary skills lent a special touch to the occasion.

Most especially, a special expression of appreciation to my wife, who, knowing how much I do not like such public gatherings with me in the centre, skilfully manoeuvred to ensure that, at the very least, I stuck it out. Actually, I did enjoy it.

On reflection, it was not too long ago that I was part of a family organizing 75th birthday celebrations for my mother, who, thankfully, is still with us. Then, like now, I remembered during my childhood and teenage years thinking of how “old” 70-plus sounded, never dreaming it would be a reality for me today. Fortunately, it has been a much more pleasant experience than I thought then.

But that is enough of me and “I” and “I”. Joining me this year is the famous Trinidad steel orchestra, Renegades, also celebrating its 70th anniversary. That band has progressed from being regarded as a “bad John” outfit to one of the finest orchestras, not just steel orchestras, in the world, capable, like its peers, of delivering a range of music that not even the established orchestras can match. The pity is that Caribbean people cannot appreciate and treasure our own creation and contribution to the world of music.

When Renegades was formed in 1948, West Indies cricket was blessed with the debut of three players, who were to herald in the rise of Caribbean cricket to the highest pinnacle. The famed “three Ws” all began their careers that year and their magnificent batting ushered in an era of Caribbean dominance that was to last right until the dawn of the 21st century. Sadly, while Renegades and the other socially-branded bands from deprived areas like Desperadoes and All-Stars have not only scaled the musical heights, but maintained their place on the plateau, West Indies cricket has been plunging in the opposite direction. That is real food for thought for those who still engage in such activities. More on that, another time.

POLITICALLY UNPREPARED

Regrettably, a pre-arranged series of meetings, involving persons who had to travel here from other islands, forced me to miss one of the more interesting and riveting exchanges in Parliament, when the Opposition brought a motion of ‘no confidence’ on Wednesday of this week. I was only able to hear snippets at the beginning and during breaks in our own meeting, but even those moments were spell-binding.

The major disappointment I experienced, (nah me alone, judging by comments I have heard), came in the non-performance of the Opposition on a stage that they had requested. As it turned out, the debate, intellectual and constitutional exchanges, were primarily between the Government side and the Speaker of the House, Hon Jomo Thomas.

One might agree or not agree with his ruling on the attempt by the Prime Minister to have him rule out the debate on the motion, but it was Jomo’s finest hours in the House thus far. Not many, if any, of his predecessors, would have been able to engage so ably, and to stay the course at that. In the process, the traditional rabble-rousers in the House were sidelined and silenced, squirming uncomfortably in their seats and itching to take to the streets of mud-politics. How they must have yearned for a lesser-endowed Speaker, who would have allowed them to sink to the rabble-rousing politics!

Thank you, Jomo, for holding your own, making your considered ruling and yet being able to exercise sound judgement! Not many others in your position would have been able to exercise such judgement, or to so engage that it lifted the whole level of debate in the House. In the process, it exposed the inadequacies of so many who mistake politics for “bad-johnism”, bluster and blarney, but when their bluff is called, have no serious ammunition. And, they say “we ready”, for what?

As for those ULP supporters who fail to appreciate the Speaker’s role, it is one thing to disagree, another to feel that you must have it all your way, and that “we will deal with Jomo”. That kind of politics is the flip-side of that in the Opposition, it does not uplift us.

Let’s keep to the proverbial “high road” for the Budget debate.

Renwick Rose is a community activist and social commentator.

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