Friday 23rd March, 2007

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Great opening despite no pan

Prof Rex Nettleford has already given his assessment of the Cricket World Cup opening ceremony. As he holds pride of place as “senior partner” in the area of critical evaluation of things cultural, I must concur with his evaluation, not simply because of his status in the field but because, given the constraints against which its preparation developed, the opening ceremony was a marvel and minor miracle that came off as handsomely as it did.

To what constraints do I refer? What, if anything, might have ameliorated the situation?

I have heard comments that larger numbers were needed to adequately fill the expansive Greenfield grounds, that the lighting could have been better, and that the first section was a bit long. To those it should be explained that the electricity supply gave out and the show was run on a generator supply, a serious glitch that was overcome reasonably well.

The opening would undoubtedly have benefited from a larger cast but the increased number would have entailed more complex logistics and finances than were possible given the country’s pressing priorities. Nevertheless, voluntary support could have been tapped to take full responsibility for certain small areas of casting.

As to the length of section one, many requirements from overseas and local sponsors and media had to be satisfied, hence the length. As a matter of thematic consistency, however, one questions the relevance of some of the songs performed on the programme?

The most serious constraint was the time factor. When one considers that China, in preparation for the Olympics in 2008, is already running dress rehearsals, then one wonders how on Earth did the trio of Stines, Rose, and Lawrence achieve what they did in just under four months.

The discipline they learnt from their participation in the rigorous world of theatre kept them afloat even when things seemed to be becoming unbalanced, even sinking.

Should that not provide a hint to our education administrators to encourage the discipline required for more drum corps and theatre groups in schools, mounting performances allied to the literature syllabuses, as well as more and better training for the teachers of dance and physical education precision drills, with mandatory application of those courses in all levels of the school system? Just a thought.

After having sat through rehearsals of the opening ceremony and prayed silently for them as I watched, amazed at the patience and determination to succeed of Bert Rose, Antoinette Stines and Lawrence, one will understand how totally enchanted I was to see the finished product when sound, colour and precision blended before the eyes of the world.

Only one omission bothered me. Where was the steelband?

The steel pan is the only new musical instrument to emerge from the 20th century. It’s a fascinating thing. It is Trinidad’s signature emblem. We have a steelband at the Mona campus of the UWI and I’m sure they would have been willing to appear if asked. So where was the steelband? Where were the pans?

For all that, the moment at Greenfield was a time of a lifetime. I feel happy and honoured to have been there. Congratulations to all and any who in large or small ways contributed. Congrats! Well done! I “big you all up!”

Alma MockYen

Kingston, Jamaica

[email protected]

La Brea shows it wants smelter

The leaders of the anti-smelter movement have been insisting that a majority of people in the La Brea area are against the construction of the Alutrint smelter in their community.

Although the evidence seems to suggest the opposite, they maintain that they have walked through the area and received good support. They have also accused Alutrint of distorting the figures and giving a false impression of support.

It was against this background that I travelled to La Brea to see for myself the response to the anti-smelter rally at Union Village. The event was advertised in the newspapers and they even enticed residents with a promise that refreshments would be available. I therefore expected a massive crowd at the venue.

To my surprise there were less than 50 people at the event and many were those who travelled to La Brea from other parts of the country. The rally must be a major embarrassment for the anti-smelter group because it demonstrated quite clearly that it has little support in La Brea and environs.

One speaker ranted and raved in front of the small audience, accusing Alutrint of using public relations to “fool” the people of La Brea.

He appeared to be so stunned by the poor crowd that he started screaming at the top his voice, as if he wanted to get the attention of the residents who were relaxing comfortably in their homes.

He said he had written to the Environmental Management Authority (EMA) asking it to stop the smelter. If this is true then the rally did him a great disservice because it could only prove to the EMA that he is not taken seriously by anybody in La Brea.

What it did prove, however, was that the people in La Brea have no problems with the construction of the Alutrint smelter.

A Joseph

San Fernando

Three strikes and out for PNM

Let me publicly state that Patrick Manning and the PNM will never get my vote again! I have given them three strikes before coming to this decision and believe me they have finally given me that satisfaction.

Strike 1: The Government’s repeated failure to address the issue of escalating crime which is compounded by its insult to citizens by pretending it does not exist.

Strike 2: The Prime Minister’s high-handed manner in imposing smelters on the people. To top it off, the people who have raised their voices in opposition are now being attacked with accusations of being influenced by drug smugglers.

Strike 3: The shame and scandal this country now faces with the bacchanal surrounding the Chief Justice/Chief Magistrate issue.

There had to be interference in the legal system by the political directorate—the PNM. And no one should be allowed to damage the reputation of this country and be left unscathed.

Simone De Norbriga


Gutter creates health hazard

I returned to Trinidad for vacation, staying at my mother’s home on Stone Street, Port-of-Spain. I could not help but notice the continued deterioration of the gutter in front of the house.

I was home in July 1999 and the gutter showed signs of some damage that seemed to be aggravated by the flow of waste water from a manufacturing company nearby. On my visit in 2005, the problem was worse in that the mortar in the gutter had started to erode. Now this year the situation is untenable.

The gutter is now badly broken, causing a crater to form that stops the free flow of water. Garbage accumulates in the water because the gutter is not cleared by city workers. The resulting stench does not reflect the sort of image Port-of-Spain is trying to achieve.

On the two previous occasions I visited Trinidad, my family made numerous complaints to the city council and was promised that the situation would be attended to.

So far that has not been done and family members have given up the attempt to get the city to pay attention.

My greatest concern is that the company continues to manufacture its products and with the council’s disregard for city cleanliness a health hazard is created for my elderly parent.

Mary L Gill


Rescued by security guard

On March 17, two girlfriends and myself were standing at the corner of Penitence and High Streets, San Fernando, around 7.45 pm, when two drunk men approached and were attempting to touch us.

A Pegasus security officer came to our rescue and sent the two men away. Both men were bigger than the officer yet he stood up to them.

On behalf of my friends and myself, I say thanks a million, sir. His name is Chanka. You are truly an asset to your company.

Rita Boodram


Shed light on this, Mr Speaker

after looking at the news on March 9, I became rather non-plussed, confused and indeed I thought all the money spent by my parents on my education had been in vain.

I make specific reference as to what really constitutes a “matter of urgent, public importance” so as to influence the House Speaker to allow it it be debated in the Parliament?

Can the Speaker give us the criteria which allows a matter to be so qualified? Is it left up to the mood, whims, fancies or, indeed, political affiliation of a Speaker?

Additionally, does a Speaker really act independently in his deliberations in the House? Or does he take private instructions from the Cabinet and the Prime Minister?

On that same evening, Opposition MP Subhas Panday moved that the issue involving the Chief Justice, the Chief Magistrate, the Prime Minister, the Attorney General and the Director of Public Prosecutions was a matter of urgent public importance and he moved for it to be debated for the benefit of the country. But the Speaker calmly dismissed it as not being qualified.

This is the most contentious issue in our country at the moment, so how can this not be of urgent public importance?

Please tell me, Mr Speaker, what qualifies a matter as being of urgent, public importance? A UFO landing on the Red House?

Lediva Saleem


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