Wednesday 27th December 2006

Tony Fraser
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My hopes for next year

How is the country to fare in 2007 must be a question on the minds of many as a year slips away.

I am always fascinated, in many ways unable to grasp/accept this concept of time going by never to be retrieved. For instance, that there will never be another 2006, that the moment you started reading this column will never return.

I settle the confusion by saying that at least we will have the memories and modern technology to recapture the physical attributes of the times that have slipped away.

For purposes of convenience, civilisations have delineated periods to mark time. Therefore at the end of a week, a month, a year, a decade and so on, there arise expectation, anticipation, gloom and doom as to the uncertainty about what’s up ahead. In reality, however, it’s a mere continuation of the process of time, habits and the steady beat of life’s drama.

But in attempting to make a case for the 12 months allotted to marking 2007 being of great significance, we can look on it in several ways that could make a difference to life here in T&T, so here are a few “random thoughts about things in general,” to borrow from Larry Heywood. If you’re not aware of who that was, ask someone else, but please don’t ask another child like yourself.

Carnival without the Grand Stand: no early morning rumbling of sweet pan across the big stage; the winer girls must rue not being able to play themselves for at least “one more time;” bet your last dollar, though, they will find “sweet spots” on the streets to do it.

But hear what, the middle class winers of today must know that when they do their thing, say, on the Piccadilly Greens or at George and Prince Streets in front Lucky Jordan Club, with dice rolling upstairs, they are identifying with “Gateway Elaine,” “Marabunta Jean” and the Jamette Society of Old Port-of-Spain who preserved the mas from the ignorance and cultural snobbery of colonial society.

But of course there is sure to be a whole set of bacchanal before Carnival comes to a close. Them one-song calypsonians, for instance, now have a chance to win the crown, while bards like Chalkie with versatility on their side would be shouting “quacks and invalids” in calypso.

Let’s join together on the night in a demonstration of love for tradition by going to the “Big Yard” and lighting a candle before we hustle down to the Jean Pierre.

Anyhow, that Madam Minister not easy. Ah liken she to “Mayfield”—the greatest flag woman of all time, leading All Stars from Hell Yard and when she reach by the corner and point she flag in a southerly direction, she expect the band to follow. Ah hear the pan boss say he and the panmen not going South for Panorama. We go see who name man.

Next year is also ICC World Cup in the West Indies. Will Lara and his men return pride to WI cricket? True, true West Indians want to hope, but they frighten to expose their fragile self-esteem to get mash-up again. But if we cannot be man and woman in we own backyard, then we have to crawl for the rest of our natural cricketing lives. Not easy this cricket business.

Incidentally, notice how the national is extended to the regional frame in which T&T’s future slides into that of the West Indies? Well, 2007 is also important for the Single Market aspirations. If this economic co-operation being pursued for 40 years is not taken to another level in this year, then the Single Economy project with the real possibility for harmonised economic production will be pushed into the never, never land of tomorrow.

The economic gurus have warned that the ten per cent inflation rate is a dangerous threshold to stand on, other countries having cascaded down the inflation precipice—or should we make nonsense of the image by saying that we could ascend into hell from ten per cent?

Establishment of a productive agricultural base. More productive utilisation of the hundreds of millions now spent on social welfare programmes, Cepep included, and in the process give people an opportunity to acquire marketable skills and also wean them away from dependency on political parties, could be a few of the real hopes for 2007.

For the last few years, there has been threatening an evolution of the political culture into one where political literacy replaces vulgar and instinctive racial affiliation and or unthinking devotion to which party “meh father and mother supported and being intent to remain there for the rest of meh life,” notwithstanding performance or lack of it, capability or lack of it of the particular party.

Would it be pushing this very gentle evolution of a political behaviour too far to hope for an advance in the process in 2007?

I was going to wish that perhaps the leaders of the political parties would become more sophisticated and enlightened to quicken the process, but that would be flying in the face of logic and engaging in child-like optimism.

But who knows, one opposition party slammed the Government for its incompetence but still did in the end what it thought was in the interest of the population. So maybe 2007 may mark off a year when insular and crippling partisan politics would have been impacted upon.

The big one for 2007 is not simply that general and local government elections are scheduled to be called, but that there could evolve an approach to selection of political parties to function in the Parliament and regional councils on the basis of competence, track record, a set of proposals for the future and a commitment by the electorate to not becoming absentee landowners after the elections but staying on stage to dictate the agenda.

What the hell, I figure if we are going to venture forward with great aspirations and expectations, we may as well get as ambitious as it is possible to be in politics. The point is, as I have hinted at before, to wait for political parties to effect such transformation would be to do a Spoiler, who once optimistically tied-up a crocus bag hoping that Santa would put a couple “roast pig in dey for me.”

Poor Spoiler, he got a police with a warrant to charge him for child maintenance; we have to go out in 2007 and chase down those squealing pigs to roast them over a warm fire.



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