Dennis Joseph

Dennis Joseph

First and even separately I wish to congratulate this most exciting Pope Francis on being named TIME magazine Person of the Year. Pope Francis could easily use the slogan “Change is coming” on his MITRE or headdress as he is bent on changing things in the Catholic Church to stop it from withering away into irrelevance and remake it into the real image of Jesus the Christ- love for all, compassion for the unfortunate  and humility of its priests and other captains of the church.  , Enough of this bishop’s palace mentality’ he seems to be saying leave that to those who enjoy spending 27 million dollars in a poor island just to build one.   This Vicar of Christ as he is called by his Church is truly the people’s Pope.

Now one of the most  anthem-like  classy songs over the years  in calypso in Waitikubuli which I rate more by its content than delivery  is one sung by Soul Puss titled Respect of the People with the commanding  sting  line,  “It’s the people not your money that makes a great leader great.”  The Easterners say, “When the people are ready the leader appears,” and triumphs whether he has money or not because it’s the will of the people.  The immediate question is, “Are the people ready for change in Waitikubuli?”

PM Skerrit and his DLP are  taking an annoying  disdainful attitude of, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth”, toward the individual candidates of the United Workers Party  in similar  style as the uppers did toward Jesus who they dismissed as the carpenter’s son in his time on earth.  Well surprise, surprise, Mr. PM, some of the most successful people in the world were born in a manger or something similar.  Rev Doctor Phillip Potter who rose to become General Secretary of the World Council of churches was born in a small wooden house on Upper Lane, Roseau.   Should PAHO have said of Dr Clarissa Etienne, “Can anything good come out of little Dominica?” and of course there is Peter the rock on which the Jesus movement  and Christianity was built who was a simple uneducated struggling fisherman.   Not everyone can simply make a few phone calls to party executive members and be made a Prime Minister as Skerrit was able to do after the death of PM Pierre Charles so come on.   In any case the PM sounds real strange when he tells we the people that  those  we should diss down  are people who did well in their personal lives.  If the other side has a more powerful team it is because his fanatics who are lawyers and doctors prefer to duck in the media chorus line and the  cheerleaders section of the DLP regime.

The coming  elections  seems to have the Prime Minister speaking in silly tongues and  in an apparent  panic hustling  to impress as in 2005  with another 300 million dollar MOU of Chinese origin, this time in US dollars, from which the Chinese government through its local ambassador has distanced itself.   He obviously hopes this will astonish enough to seize the attention and momentum from the UWP Lennox Linton juggernaut.  It seems the PM is rushing to do things dancing hip-hop lurching from nothing to something to nothing and back again seeking to upstage his political opponents because as the saying goes, “Skerrit cannot afford to lose with perhaps his whole future riding on another elections win.”   But it is not just Skerrit; it is also the Boom- flies who do not see themselves having  a salary without him, the lawyers who feed of him, his Chinese personalities who he calls friends and brothers who see Waitikubuli as their milking cow, the ministers of religion in particular the evangelicals who think “God is good all the time” just so  long as  he allows him to be the PM and the fall of Skerrit would be a backhander from God which zoomed in under their guard knocking the power out of their prayers.   Space does not allow for a longer list, but the hangers on sprout like mushrooms in the “me too and what about me” greedy section.   Yet government cannot solve problems if the people think  the government is the problem and this mad rush  and quick fix formula will not forgive nearly 14 years of having no real economic policy to solve the multitude of economic difficulties.  This government has embarked for years on a policy of just leaving it all to China or Venezuela and with Chavez gone their options have significantly dwindled.

I have always remembered my late father’s remarks about Edward Leblanc, “Someone like him comes once every fifty years.”   In 1961 Leblanc, a 5’ 4” former motor cycle riding banana inspector of mixed Black and Kalinago descent led the Labour Party to victory.  He was soon nicknamed “Little Rebel” for his no nonsense style toward changing things and indeed he changed the social and cultural order and  class structure to the benefit of us all to this day.   But in 1961 change was not just a Leblanc thing; it was already there in the hearts of the poor people yearning to break free. It was set in the poor people’s hearts by the trade union giants of that day most notably a lightly educated Christopher Loblack.   A moderately educated Leblanc was the leader who appeared when the people were ready to act. They both showed that high education was not the real qualification for achieving the people’s goals but a certificate in honesty, integrity and a passion so focused and concentrated with a fearless spirit is the lever  that moves mountains.  His main opponent was the Freedom Party  an offspring of the Dominica United Peoples Party(DUPP)  seen as representing the privileged class.   Now fifty years later it appears that the Freedom Party has infiltrated the ranks of the DLP and in effect may be the real opponents to change.  Why should they want change?  The wealth of this island has again been skewed in the direction of the few, the middle class mainly civil servants cannot understand how their salaries cannot make ends meet and yet their unions accept sloth-like increases in their pay at every round of negotiations while the poor are relegated to the ranks of constantly waiting on handouts.

The question is whether now fifty years since Leblanc change is again in the hearts of we the people or is it just an academic exercise?  We view change as a giant vacuum cleaner that will suck up everything including our way of life and it is that fear the DLP hopes will help them through in the next elections.   Yet something has to change in Waitikubuli.  Unemployment and underemployment is destroying our youth and all our industries are in stages of decline or just barely making it.   Today the lowest rating is given to the office of the PM because of salty and distressing remarks which he never ceases to make as if like an infant he cannot stop putting his toe in his mouth.

There is talk that this DLP is hell-bent on buying up media houses and one day might even buy up Q95 radio in order to shut down the opposing voices expecting we the people to grumble but do nothing.  The Chinese writer Lin Yutang in his Vigil of a Nation writes, ‘The people who do not know how to talk against their government do not deserve democracy.’   Clearly Skerrit fears being made as in his own words an ‘unemployed loiterer” after the next elections but he should know that whether the wants it or not change is a rule of nature and either things change or the people will change him for in the case of politics it is the people not money, clever antics or tricks that will eventually decide any leader’s fate and legacy.