The United National Congress (UNC) seems to have surprised itself. Despite the telling loss to an impressively resurgent People’s National Movement (PNM) in last Monday’s local government elections and its prior loss to the Independent Liberal Party (ILP) in Chaguanas West, the UNC found that it still had kick.
In its heartland, it kicked the ILP back to the touchline to which all go it alone third parties have traditionally been consigned.
The previous occupant of the touchline was the COP. Then they were granted a little run in the 2010 to 2015 game but they proved gutless on the field of play. They shirked every challenge and condoned every foul.
When trusted with sufficient of the peoples’ votes and tested in the exercise of political power, the COP had no teeth or sense of smell, only a nose of the brown variety. Such gutlessness was reprehensible.
Many voters in 2010 accepted the People’s Partnership platform only because they anticipated that the COP would be a conscience force and a moderating influence within the Government. The COP has been appropriately demoted to irrelevance.
Will the UNC and the ILP be able to resist continuing to pelt kicks at each other in the course of the St Joseph by election, now only a week away? Are they likely to take themselves out of the murky depths into which they have dived?
Having the TV media houses make an agreement with the political parties on appropriate outside broadcast standards might stop the rot. On the other hand it is an obligation of a free press to show the true colours of the politicians.
The vast majority of our citizens, when not temporarily seduced by visceral political vibrations, are the builders of our social infrastructure, the trainers and developers of our youth. They are a decent majority but their decency goes unrequited by the politicians and other leaders.
Their efforts to keep our children productively occupied in arts and culture are perpetually handicapped by the lack of intelligent funding policies, further disadvantaged by the questionable deployment of gimme gimme funding, even to fund criminal enterprise.
They are at their wits end as to what to tell the children about the goat and the sex for housing tales on the platform and the uproar in Parliament.
Meanwhile, shareholders are collecting dividends from the media businesses that are bombarding the children with tales of goats and goomahs, (Mafia term for mistresses) but elites will not risk reprisal. They may only say something trite about the mud-slinging politicians, collect and “move on”.
There are several reasons why I write so frequently about our vibrant art and culture. One of these is to record what decent citizens do for recreation and youth development in the course of keeping our brilliant arts and culture alive. I seek to describe the Trinidad and Tobago that we should be fighting to save.
I seek also to make a contrast but not just with the politicians. I hear members of the moneyed indifference class referring pejoratively to “them” as though the behavior of the moneyed indifference class has no criminal taint. I show that there is not only ugly in “them” areas. The seeds of quality artistic performance frequently take first root there.
We are in a new golden period of arts and culture. Every weekend there is a plethora of activities from which to choose. For example, the weekend following our visit to Ramleela in Enterprise, we divided ourselves between one of the preliminaries of Pan is Beautiful and the joint venture of Noble Douglas with the Venezuelan Dance Company, Fundacion Coreoarte.
As if that was not enough, there was a further edition of Skiffle Through the Years taking place in South. Three days later the National Drama Association opened its theatre week.
In all of these endeavours there are young persons involved. There is a huge disconnect between our bacchanalian rulers and the decency of the environment in which our young persons are developing artistic and musical craft. During the course of the Ramleela, part of the play involved the citizens of Ayodhya seeking guidance from Ram. One youngster posed the question: “What am I to say to my friends about the bad behaviour on the campaign platforms?”
As a postscript, this is a good time to make it clear that the pull quote at the head of my column last week were the words of Derek Walcott. He celebrated Ramleela and its performance in Felicity in the course of the lecture he gave when he was awarded the Nobel Prize in literature 1992.
It is a complex lecture but I take from it a hope that in the development of our arts and culture we are building our own sense of our worth and moving away from feelings of insecurity, which drive us regularly to purvey the negatives of personal attack.