Sunday, February 18, 2018

Wey yuh tink?


Mark Fraser

For Carnival 2014, against the backdrop of an eventful three and a half years of partnership governance, and perhaps in anticipation of more momentous events beyond Carnival, “Chucky” (Roderick Gordon), the new Calypso Monarch, regaled us with “Wey yuh tink”. The song focuses on the relentless challenges the Prime Minister faces in Governing the country, especially those emanating from within her government, and how they have driven or, if not, can drive her to escapist and coping drink. It came back to mind when Prime Minister Persad-Bissessar got rid of two of her ministers in quick order—Dr Glenn Ramadharsingh and Mr Chandresh Sharma.

On the heels of the dismissals, reporters from both print and electronic media sought me out to ask “Wey yuh tink?”, and in essence I told them the Prime Minister had made poor choices in the first place but had done the right thing, should be congratulated, was belatedly committed to “values-based leadership”, would regain some goodwill but hardly turn around most of those who had become disaffected by her coalition’s misgovernance, and should do something really bold, such as firing a minister or two for bribe-taking and other forms of financial corruption.

As I was saying, Chucky’s song came back to me. My views were expressed on the ministerial dismissals; his were expressed on a variety of political issues leading up to the Carnival season. Mine were expressed in formal prose, his in informal song. Mine were fleeting but are recoverable from the archives; his are repeatable by being in song. His might be more potent in the cultural memory and, for this reason perhaps, be more deserving of a place in this column.

Chucky’s calypso opens with a background which identifies the UNC base and replays the Prime Minister’s assertion that the party had not lost the local government elections (even though it had not won!). Then it gets straight into the meat of the matter:

All you really doh know what it mean to be a prime minister

Pressure for so

Is pressure for so

Always on the go

Trying to keep things together

Is pressure for so.

The critical message is that the Prime Minister is under great pressure to hold the coalition together. But why is it so difficult to hold it together? The answer comes in the main chorus and in different stanzas of what is a very long kaiso. The main chorus shouts:

Everyday she have to hear something gone wrong

Why you must say

She cyar have anything strong

Always on call with plenty papers to go through

Man, after all

The lady PM is folks too

Things are constantly going wrong in her Government and she is always called upon to fix them, so she has no recourse but to drink.

In the different stanzas, Chucky tells us about some of those things. There are wayward ministers, most of whom can no longer be moulded or led (A setta wayward men she have to keep in line; … Most a them done bend). The COP frightens her with their public stances on internally unresolved issues (And when the COP faction start to vent; she does get real frighten for she government). The AG is a runaway horse (Every Monday she have to face; the AG looking to fight some case; going off on a wild goose chase; … well, in she armour there’s a kink; dem Range Rovers causing a stink). She loses four elections. Two partners leave the government (Say, look David pick up the MSJ and he gone; but when Jack leave, it feel worse than a horn).

All these pressures, according to Chucky, have driven the Prime Minister to drink.

But there’s more. Her Government is ‘on the brink’ and the Partnership is ‘ready to sink’, so she drinks. When ‘the tension rise up’, she drinks. Her support is ‘starting to shrink’ as the people are ‘no longer hoodwinked’, so she drinks. Chucky sums up her situation neatly in the following lines;

Day and night we prime minister find she self under the gun

So you ent think she entitle to fire one?

Now whereas Chucky seems to have poetic licence to say that the Prime Minister solves all her political difficulties by resorting to drink, I am sure that I don’t have such a licence and, further, that I don’t have knowledge that she drinks, period. But there are many people who say I am naïve.

What I do know is that she has solved a number of her problems with errant ministers by removing them from the executive arm of her Government, invoking, in some cases, principle-based and ‘values-based leadership’. It’s now thirteen of them, and it appears that we will still be counting until the next general elections arrive.

The Prime Minister has demonstrated that she does not need to drink in the face of unworthy ministers of Government. All she has to do is fire them, directly or indirectly. And we can all drink to that!

Wey yuh tink?