Dennis Joseph

Dennis Joseph

There is power in a voice gifted by God, it is fear of that power that causes kings and queens, and in-betweens to rush to stifle, degrade and even destroy the one so gifted. It was fear of the effects of the voice of Jesus that caused the leaders of the Jewish temple to call him a fraud, the bastard son of Mary, the Devil’s handiwork and a blasphemer so that they could find an excuse to kill him.

On a day during a Labour Party rally, I heard the party leader Roosevelt Skerrit call out like this,” Ian Douglas, where’s Ian? Ian come and sing the party song.”  Ian responded meekly to this command and climbed on the platform opened his mouth and sang in keyless exuberance what was claimed as the party song titled, “We shall not be moved.” However, that song was not made as the Labour Party song and claiming it as such means that the Labour Party has stolen a song or has it? The song existed way back in the 19th Century and no one knows who wrote it but in the 1930’s the unions adopted it as a union protest song and changed the title from I Shall Not Be Moved to We Shall Not Be Moved. Decades later when the Labour Party was formed, one of its founders Christopher Loblack, the leader of a union introduced the song to the party members who have used it ever since, but the words signify a protest against oppression rather than an upliftment of any political party program. If the civil service were to strike for more pay it might very well be that General Secretary Mr. Letang would be singing the same song Mr. Skerrit and Ian would be singing which in effect would mean no deal.

I decided to listen to the  grand meeting of the Labour Party held in flaming Technicolor on Thursday night Sept 11 because clearly, their frantic activities indicate an election poll sooner than later. I expected then to hear this ruling party lay out its plans for our future in Waitukubuli and to give we the people plausible reasons why they should be re-elected, but alas not so. The Labour Party seems to be hardwired into massive efforts at distraction. Under the confusing and rather ridiculous slogan of ‘Dominica needs better Lennox must go’, it was all about Lennox Linton and the usual “elections are very soon” stuck record an indication that they are trying hard to run away from serious debate. It may be the very first time in our politics that a ruling party has gathered its forces and orchestrated a rally of its supporters just for the pre-advertised and stated purpose of a full frontal attack on one man because they accuse him of copying parts of another person’s speech. Turns out that the other person shows up to inform we the people that this is not so at all. The strategy seems to be rather than creating certainty among us about their tenure and re-election bid they think that creating uncertainty about Linton is the way to go. This is of course motivated by naked fear; fear of his voice, ideas and in history there are recorded significant times when new ideas to change things have been met by the status quo with fear of voices. To them in high positions it is easier to crucify the man than debate the message.

The volcano erupted big time as is typical with the DLP rallies nowadays, with language going further south to include, “bastard” “fraudster” and other fiery barbs in reference to Linton. The PM at his turn on the microphone went out of his way to prove he is the reigning king of the volcano. The voice of the PM is supposed to bring some light to the nation but not that night in Lagon.  Then embarrassment for the Labour Party when after the Lagon eruption we the people find out that Skerrit himself is being accused of plagiarizing and anyone listening to the tapes supporter or not will find it difficult not to agree.

There is no one in the PM’s camp that will try to stop this incendiary campaign style. Indeed they encourage it and when the PM said on a radio program, “Let not your heart be troubled I will deal with dem fellas, “his boom-fly supporter hosting the program acted the part of cheerleader, “It’s a long time I have been waiting for you to say that PM.” Indeed with such friends who needs enemies? They all are in this for something and the devils take the rest. They fear offending him in any way just to protect their own bleeper, but should take a lesson from the fall of 16th Century Cardinal Wolsey. Shakespeare writes in his play about the life of Henry VIII, a soliloquy, a meditative talk with his spirit, by Holy Church Cardinal Wolsey the once all powerful political super advisor to King Henry, ‘Farewell, a long farewell to all my greatness……O how wretched is the poor man who hangs on the prince’s favours…when he falls he falls like Lucifer never to hope again.”. On his deathbed, Wolsey is reported to have said, “If I had served God as diligently as I served the king, He would not have abandoned me in my grey hairs”. Skerrit captures support by lifting to the top a bunch of incompetents paying scant attention to talent that abounds in this land. He can easily kick their bleepers out just because he feels like it.

The song made me think of the struggle of Christopher Loblack, Edward Leblanc, Phyllis Shand Alfrey and the people of the original Labour Party to take away the shackles that for so long had imprisoned the minds of our people allowing the rich to step on their heads. The voices of these stirred a revolution of the spirit of the common people who then made the decision to start an exodus from the suppression of those times. It was the voice of Patrick John the son of an ordinary woman from Lagon who in his remarkable Salisbury Declaration lifted us from the acceptance of colonialism to walk on water toward an independent and free Waitukubuli. Then 30 years later the voice of this juvenile-like Prime Minister dumped ice water on our heads with the statement in the House of Assembly, “Madame Speaker this country is too free.”

Honour seems to be an old fashioned idea and today it appears that politics in the world is not about freedom of ideas,  dignity and fighting for what is right, true and just but all about profit. In Waitukubuli it is especially so, for how else could we have re-elected a Prime Minister who just a few days before the 2009 General Elections voiced his masterpiece, “No law not even the Constitution can stop me Roosevelt Skerrit?” Far from asking him to resign, the voters gave him a reward a month later of nearly 90% of the seats in the House (18-3). The rest of the world cannot understand this level of selectiveness and lack of resolve in confronting what is wrong and which only opens the way for the bad apples to take over the barrel.

Perhaps at last we the people seek better and that is why when the voice of Lennox Linton was heard there was a rush to embrace what is hoped will be a new day and a new style of politics. It is only to be expected that those who profit differently will be in a panic over the way the voice is accepted by the people and will spew filth, make mountains out of molehills, and knock themselves out trying to win by the hook of money and handouts or by the crook of an enormously tainted voters list. In this election campaign, we must listen carefully to the cacophony of voices that will come from every corner and all around us. We cannot just vote as usual because the world including our land is not the same as usual. Everything has changed and we cannot be left behind. We the people have work to do because this should not be another strictly “sewo” ride and also those who want this election campaign to be just the usual ‘mepwi fest’ must be given a rude awakening. We must make it clear to all who come seeking our votes that we cannot be mentally enslaved any longer, we cannot like sheep go wherever without knowing whatever, and the time has come when we as a people must weigh and consider our real options and act in our best interest not that of the politician. So Madame and Mister Politician of all political parties this time on the matter of voting in our best interests we too shall not be moved.