I have nostalgic, patriotic and emotional memories of November, 2nd and 3rd, 1978 when I marched in two parades to celebrate Dominica’s political independence. The first was the military parade with the Dominica Cadet Corps and the witnessing of the lowering of the almighty Union Jack for the last time and the raising of the Dominican flag. The second was the multicolored uniforms of the fun filled school parade as a DGS student.
This 48 hour span brought fresh, optimistic and proud mornings on the Nature isle filled with hope and a bright future. But Less than a year later the island was hit by Hurricane David and after a political crisis which nearly destroyed Dominica which culminated in the May 1979 uprising. After Dame Charles took over the leadership of our island in 1980 after a brief interim government, Dominicans felt prouder, stronger and much better.
Today a veil of deep midnight darkness and despair hovers over our island home. In as much as frightening and uncomforting that is, there is ray of hope and a silver lining that the dark cumulous doldrums clouds will soon disappear because civil society is finally waking up to the realities on the ground in Dominica.
As a youngster growing up in the rural south east which was not on the electric grid in the mid-70s,my late Grandfather always said, I need to be in the house by midnight because that time belongs to the devil and his friends- the soucolyants, Lougawous, Lajabless,’Voleurs’ vagabonds, crooks , folks with bad minds. That is the time when bad things happen and people who are up to no good come out in full force and inflict harm. But he always held hope for the bright and fresh morning when the sun would burst out of the horizon over the southern Atlantic.
Sadly, today the south east has electricity but it is ‘midnight’ again in that scenic and mountainous community. That region which gave me the fundamentals of life and sent me to the bright lights of the big city to compete with the best and brightest, is big pregnant with acrimony, hate, division and political unrest. Why is that and who and what are responsible for this recent unsettling and troubling period? A recent poll indicated that only 29% of voters residing in the La Plaine constituency voted for the current Labour MP in the last general election. His votes came from diaspora residents who were airlifted to vote. So is he the MP for the La Plaine Constituency or for the La Plaine Diaspora?
The recent LaPlaine Village Council bi-election was won handsomely by a firebrand with less than 80 % of his supporters voting. But the bright, articulate public speaker, effective community activist and organizer who is the Parl Rep’s nemesis, has a regrettable ‘Rap Sheet.’ The well-oiled and heavily funded red Labour machinery descended on the village with full force on Election Day and weeks before and threw everything at Mr. Fontaine but still ran into a fire wall. The one compelling factor that was absent was the La Plaine diaspora influx. They were not given plane tickets to parachute in from New Jersey. The results of the bi-election sent shock waves to Labour MPs who rely on the diaspora vote to secure their victories.
Enter Roosevelt Skerrit, the sitting PM who allegedly is the architect of the diaspora voting airlift excursions. He told a Diaspora gathering last week in Goodwill, “We shall defend your right under the constitution of Dominica to vote in Dominica’s election and there is no institution in this country that has any legal or constitutional authority to remove your name on the voters list unless you are a dead person in Dominica because voting is too much of an important, fundamental right.”
Well that is not entirely correct ‘Doctor’. He conveniently left out that a person is disqualified to vote if he/she has been absent from Dominica for a period exceeding five years. Is this Skerrit’s 2018 updated 2.0 Version of his angry, irresponsible statement of: No law, no constitution can prevent him from being a candidate?
What about the many recommendations by the international organizations on that issue? What about the tireless work of the electoral commission? Does the PM realize that no one is above the law and laws are to be obeyed? Furthermore, no functioning, vibrant and ‘successful climate resilient’ nation (democracy) can function, prosper or/and have confidence in the electoral process and leadership when elections are not free and fair.
‘Doc ‘will your 2019 updated 3.0 Version if you win the election be enactment of a seditious act? If and when this occurs, then it will certainly be past midnight like it is in Venezuela, Honduras, Libya and other hell holes where a lot of bad things are happening. In spite of this, we celebrate and reflect on Dominica’s 40th anniversary.
We eagerly wait for that bright and optimistic morning in Dominica again like the one on November 3rd, 1978.