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The political rally

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Eenie meenie mi NO MORE. Enough! We Naah Nah Nah Nah Naaah… Naaah tun back!

Last week:

As Kita prepares for the election battle, she looks at herself in the mirror…

“This image: young, strong and well poised for the battle ahead; is the result of bloody sweat and carefully concealed tears….

But as I close my eyes the figure dissipates and the real me emerges from the darkness… the terrified, broken-hearted 34 year old….{{more}}

…“Kita,” my brother’s voice… now base and strong, ejects me from my daydream and returns me to the car.

“Hmm?” I answer.

He sighs and returns his attention to the road as he starts driving again.

“Ah hear something last night which…. boy ah really hope is not true…. but ah say I have to ask you…”

Suddenly, I could hear a banging in my chest as if my heart is colliding hard against some foreign object. I hold my breath and wait for the bomb to drop….”

You must learn to be still in the midst of activity and to be vibrantly alive in repose… Indira Gandhi ….

Sea breeze and an oppressive heat battle for supremacy. They weave like spirits through the thickness of the flag-waving, chanting crowd.

“Eenie meenie mi NO MORE. Enough! We Naah Nah Nah Nah Naaah… Naaah tun back!”

From the vantage point of the platform, I see the illuminated field in Calliaqua, covered with a mass of bright orange that heaves with the rhythmic pulsing of a heart…. People that had been switched on and electrified by the music… by the atomic fire of the speeches – words that live and breathe in the night air… words that fall upon the crowd to be ignited by the potent concoction of indissoluble zeal.

“Vincentians,” the party chairman addresses the supporters of the Unity New Labour Democratic Party, UNLDP.

“You are here tonight… yo put on yo orange shirt and walk… run… drive… ride all the way down to this iconic field in Calliaqua…. Why? Because yo know we serious…”

“YAAAAAAH!!!!” The crowd goes wild.

“We not running no comedy night…”

“NOOOO!!!!”

“And if we were, the punch line would be that the pink party will find demselves eating dey flag on election day….”

“YAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH!!!”

“We ain’t here to tell you Nansi story… that we going to build mansions for everybody and share way free electricity…. Vincentians listen to me! What the UNLDP promise, is what the UNLDP delivers!”

“YAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH!!!”

“Are you ready for better schools?”

“YAAAAAAAH!!!!”

“Are you ready for more jobs for our young people?”

“YAAAAAAAAH!!!”

“Vincentians I have here beside me a lady….”

My heart rate shifts into manic African beat. My time has come.

“A woman, who has risen like a phoenix from the ashes of poverty and who has not forgotten the fire of a hungry belly….”

“YAAAAAAAAAAAH”

I glance across at Carmine Trump, our candidate for the South Leeward constituency, who had complained that the party’s angle on my impoverished past was putting candidates like herself, from privileged backgrounds, at a disadvantage.

Carmine, Vance Welloff, we were all in class together in Kingstown High school. Rich daddies – guaranteed membership to the inner circle of the high school elite….

Of course it wasn’t their fault that I was poor… tarnished with illegitimacy; that my father had disowned me and my mother had shacked up with a drug addict… It wasn’t their fault. But when you are sitting, at lunch time, with nothing but a griping stomach and you see these golden children flaunting their designer lives, you wonder about fairness… it can even make you question the Almighty.

There are many young people from comfortable backgrounds running on both sides and I try hard not to judge them because I know that that would be unfair…. I just hope that they have experienced enough to be truly in touch with the needs of the people….

“This is the woman,” the chairman continues.

“Who has fought tirelessly for the rights of the poor….”

“YAAAAAAAAAAH!!!”

“This is the woman who puts her money where her mouth is…. Who, out of her own pocket, started a benevolent fund for her community….”

“YAAAAAAAAH!!!!”

“Out of her own pocket, gave hundreds of primary school children the opportunity to get at least one warm meal a day….”

“YAAAAAAAAH!!!!!”

“Listen I have never before met a candidate who is so zealous, so resolved in her mission to make St.Vincent a better place for all…. Vincentians I give you the next prime minster of St.Vincent and the Grenadines, Kita Bridges”

The air is filled with the music of local calypsonian, Fat Anna, singing “ We rising, we rising…”

As I take the podium the chants begin again…

“Eenie meenie mi NO MORE. Enough! We Naah Nah Nah Nah Naaah… Naaah tun back!”

As I look across the sea of faces I am suddenly filled with a debilitating awe; as I realise the magnitude of the task I had agreed to undertake….

In front of me are farmers who had just lost their livelihood in the hurricane; the elderly, who had worked hard all their lives and was now being forced to spend their sunset years in poverty; children, who don’t know what it is like to eat a balanced meal; young people with subjects and degrees and nothing to do with them; sick people who cannot find proper healthcare; abused girls and boys who have no voice….

I am overwhelmed and the speech that I have before me, written and edited by politicians … filled with promises that, in reality, may never materialise… the very words on the paper suddenly seem unworthy of the people….

The seconds become like elasticated men, stretching themselves to infinity… the crowd becomes quiet… waiting for the words that will tap them on the shoulder like a magic wand and instantly make their lives better…. But there is nothing… but a still silence….

More next week….

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