Opening Ceremony of Assembly of Caribbean Peoples #1: Lamming’s Lament, yet Less Is More

In the late 80’s and early to mid-90’s, the media community of Barbados was terrified to pick up a Sunday Sun each weekend – no one wanted to dare read “Antenna” from Desmond Bourne since he was lambasting this body or that for how a show was messed up or how a record was introduced (I still recall how he reviewed then brand-new announcer Wayne Simmons at 790 VOB Radio Active before he became “Kooland castigated the teenager verging into adulthood for referring to a musician as a penis instead of using correct ahemdiction and stating: PIANIST), even job promotions at River Road or CBC in the Pine were made or denied based on Desmond Bourne’s so-called celestial divinations.

Myself jockeying for position since Gabby's daughter was to the left and did not move, but I asked Dr Gonsalves and 'Comrade' Gabby first!

Myself jockeying for position since Gabby's daughter was to the left and did not move, but I asked Dr Gonsalves and 'Comrade' Gabby first!

Eventually – between advertisers not wanting to sponsor any programmes for Radio or TV and an at the time BLP senator, later an envoy in Canada, threatening my then new job at CBC if “Antenna” did not shut up (My father was determined to carry on, regardless, I said to him if you do not tone down and I lose my job I will sue you despite being my father for taking bread from my mouth – you were told to keep quiet so STFU, both of us shocked at my vehemence, yet he actually heeded me) he made the column very sanitised and ironically as it was no longer pithy, it was no longer deemed necessary to print.

The auditorium was not as packed as I felt it could be for an Assembly of C'bean Peoples

The auditorium was not as packed as I felt it could be for an Assembly of C'bean Peoples

What everyone who read it failed to understand, while “Antenna” outlined a problem, Desmond Bourne also stated a solution – most occasions, logical and plausible based on his years of experience in Trinidadian radio and American advertising. This is an exorcism I have taken a long time to come to terms with, since I realise there are distinct similarities between both of us in terms of writing and time spent in media.

It is there and so am I, people goof and I notice it, I suggest ways to avoid a repetition of the gaffe and I am reviled for my bluntness. If the ruler of a territory is unclothed then I will shout the facts even if everyone else wants to pretend otherwise – if Jesus can speak truth and be considered a rebel, then a lesser being like myself can do no less than to identify the Pharisee and Sadducees also?

I mentioned that history as I saw a few things wrong at UWI which need not have been… Professor George Lamming was one of the keynote speakers at the 5th Assembly of Caribbean Peoples held this year in Barbados at UWI’s Roy Marshall Law Lecture Theatre 2, he also sought to point to challenges and in this mini-series we’ll examine what solutions were offered if any…

L to R - Dr Ralph Gonsalves of SVG; Richard "Johnny" Cheltenham - fmr. St Joseph MP for BLP; Professor George Lamming & ex-Senator Viola Davis

L to R - Dr Ralph Gonsalves of SVG; Richard "Johnny" Cheltenham - fmr. St Joseph MP for BLP; Professor George Lamming & ex-Senator Viola Davis

I found much in how the gala could have been streamlined for everyone’s pleasure – for one thing it started at 8:05 pm (advertised for 7:30) and did not wrap up until 11:38! While exiting, a patron asked another if there were any refreshments on overhearing, I retorted “Yes, at Esso Blackrock!” Which set the Mighty Gabby into snorts of giggling, he sang songs between while podiums and mic’s were shifted, he was very concise this time around – I even asked him after about the Admiral Nelson accusation, but he says his lawyers are handling the matter.

I heard Professor Lamming state that art and politics must go hand in hand but not that much on my part, I would have cut the dancers and reduced the speakers purely to the Barbadian author and the Vincentian head of state! Let proceedings commence at 8:30 even and conclude by 10:15 with corn curls and beer if price was an issue?

Gabby tuning up... But he sang no "Ole Ashe" that night!

Gabby tuning up... But he sang no "Ole Ashe" that night!

There was chat from a Trinidadian trade unionist and a Cuban delegate, but if you spent the night acknowledging every contributor then you’d be trapped straight through to morning! Better to just list the teams and get on with the reason everyone came for! I was starting to yawn and a woman kept looking back at me, if she felt she shaming me, she has more jokes than Trevor Eastmond…

I said directly to her they’re taking too long when everyone really came to hear the Professor and the Prime Minister of St Vincent! She looked horrified, rather like a gaping grasshopper in winter when the ants would not let in the stupid slacker.

Vincentian Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves receives poster of Fidel Castro (whoop-de-doo)

Vincentian Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves receives poster of Fidel Castro (whoop-de-doo)

She was also annoyed when the Cuban delegate was speaking of political harmony in Cuba and I shouted how many dissidents are in jail now and what about Yoani Sanchez (the blogger who always gets in trouble for also daring to be frank on Havana’s lacks and cruelties)? Kammie Holder was a little taken aback at my vehemence and I pointed out to him how Cuba & Egypt are two main places in the world which hate bloggers.

Another point which was brought up that night and I feel is a bit moot for many different reasons is Reparation – as in white:European to black:African/Caribbean. My age old contention is what happens with people like Malcolm X, David Thompson, Barack Obama or Owen Arthur, far less me? Pay money to ourselves  – are we not more mixed than Heinz 57? Where are the records? Even if it could be tracked, would it not be better to do what the Captain of the Amistad suggested and repay the African nations affected by slavery rather than blacks in USA or the Caribbean?

An audience enthralled yet not following to the extent it should have...

An audience enthralled yet not following to the extent it should have...

So finally Professor Lamming’s moment unfolded and everyone was rapt but I think a little too mesmerised. They needed to be more analytical like, ironically, what he himself suggested – his three main points were as follows {CLICK ON FOLLOWING LINK FOR FULL AUDIO};-

The phrase Caribbean is a very tired usage in Mr Lamming’s view, when one considers the genuine definition of the word then how often is it applied to modern-day use?

The next issue which concerned him was “the seasonal cock-fight” alias voting for representatives to administer our legislative affairs {CLICK ON FOLLOWING LINK FOR FULL AUDIO};-

He considers WI politics as corrupt and one of the main underpinnings which hinders development of ‘this archipelago‘ from reaching its true potential.

Professor Lamming, like he did two years ago in the Grand Salle, once again reminded patrons that the way forward is to follow the Bible’s suggestion of allowing a child to lead them {CLICK ON FOLLOWING LINK FOR FULL AUDIO};-

The writer of “In the Castle Of My Skin” sees primary schools across the region as the way to restore the Caribbean’s magnificence, by guiding from young then our future is secured.

The only pillar of the author’s commentary I objected to was his assessment of Caribbean parliamentary representation, not because he attacked Politics per se but as he offered no alternative to replace the system, in my view – if you are attacking then be constructive and offer a new way to supplant the previous methodology.

Dr Gonsalves glad-handed many of the audience that night while they waited for proceedings to start...

Dr Gonsalves glad-handed many of the audience that night while they waited for proceedings to start...

In the next segment, Dr Ralph Gonsalves confirms what we uncovered ever since at this Web Magazine… That the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States is planning on doing business with Libya, which in the past has been known to be party to or condone acts of terrorism…

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  1. Comissiong… don’t listen to the haters. Continue inspiring the PEP!

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