Monday, February 19, 2018

De las lap now start

 Sing the title of this article to the rhythmic beat of Christopher “Tambu” Herbert’s 1989 calypso classic “The Journey Now Start” or say the words using the timing of the refrain “Play de Devil Jab-Jab”.

Whatever your preference, the next 12 months promise to be filled with bacchanal and intrigue as the political parties ready themselves to masquerade before eager spectators, with each political band hoping to win popular support.

The stakes are high as usual and with the Westminster system in place, only the first prize matters. One can therefore understand the reason political revellers, who intend to cross the stage come May 2015, are putting their houses in order, especially when it comes to the individuals who will play the King or Queen of each band.

The People’s Partnership is the reigning champion and with full control of the nation’s purse, it is expected that they will put on a fine show with ostentatious costumes of white elephant proportions, perhaps paid for with monies loaned all the way from China.

The Partnership coalition which began with five sections is currently down to four as the Movement for Social Justice (MSJ) parted ways when it claimed that the bandleader failed to adhere to the Fyzabad Accord that brought all the sections together. The MSJ has learned the costly lesson of falling prey to empty promises and will have to negotiate better on the next occasion.

One main Partnership masquerader, Jack Warner, was thrown out of the band by its leader for alleged misbehaviour although he was the individual who crowned her Queen of the band.

Having been a political mas player for decades, Warner proved that his hard work for and dedication to the people of Chaguanas West was not in vain  as he rallied his supporters and won the band of the year title in that region of the country. 

Whether his colour green will be victorious again in that constituency in May 2015 and whether his Independent Liberal Party (ILP) will attract nationwide support are matters which will determine his future and relevance in the political landscape of the country.

The Queen of his former United National Congress (UNC) band is merrily chipping away to the beat of her own drum, sorry, pan, and appears unaware that she has lost a significant portion of her masqueraders who realised that her route for revellers was no different and perhaps more treacherous than that of the former king of the main rival People’s National Movement (PNM) band.

That former king was largely responsible for the dismal performance of the PNM when it crossed the political stage in May 2010. 

The PNM had lost all its appeal and was showing signs of moving from the large to the medium size band category.

After its failure to retain the title of band of the election year, the PNM replaced its king with Dr Rowley who led his band to victory in three of the four competitions held last year. Soon he will be challenged for the leadership of the band and although the chips are stacked in his favour, his contender is eyeing the prize of being the first queen of this band.

But in a parade in which leaders have proven that deficiencies are not limited to a particular gender, Pennelope Beckles-Robinson will have to prove that she can firstly, take the PNM to a 2015 victory and secondly, restore the country to its good books.

The onus will be on Ms Beckles-Robinson to prove beyond a  reasonable doubt that she has the edge over Dr Rowley in her ability to accomplish these feats. Her work is definitely cut out for her. If she fails to win, she might as well start her own Jouvert band or prepare to play political ole’ mas.

Recent reports indicate that the Congress of the People (COP), the second largest section in the Partnership band, will soon assemble its members to determine whether it will go on its own for the 2015 competition.

The COP leader must recognise that his membership has dwindled because during the displays over the past four years, it has been difficult to discern where the UNC section ended and the COP presentation commenced.

In fact thousands of revellers from the COP section unceremoniously dumped their garb as they donned the costume of the UNC, undoubtedly because the colour yellow looked much brighter than the simple white under the rays of the rising sun.

And there seems to be no policy on party exclusivity, so Partnership members move from section to section, as leaders conveniently use collective responsibility to keep their masqueraders in check.

A small but significant section of the Partnership band is the Tobago Organization of the People.

Its, leader Ashworth Jack, apparently inspired by the thinking of the Mighty Shadow in the early lines of his 1974 classic  “Bassman”, decided to pursue the lucrative field of gardening, leaving others to make the costumes for his revellers and the spectators rejected his portrayal.

And last and certainly least in terms of number of masqueraders is the National Joint Action Committee led by Makandal Daaga who at most times seems to be the lone reveller in his section as he holds up the rear. 

There are thousands of persons who do not belong to any band but are anxious that the overall winner is up to the task of steering the country in the right direction. They are looking on at the parade with eagle eyes to ensure that there are no demons hiding behind the seductive glitz and glitter of the election parade.

The ensuing months will be buzzing with election-related activities and the population will not be starved for political excitement and entertainment.

So keep viewing.

* Gillian Lucky is an 

attorney-at-law and presenter of the television programme 

 Just Gill.