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ON REFLECTION – PM critics ain’t saying nutten


Ricky Jordan

ON REFLECTION – PM critics ain’t saying nutten

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I TOLD THEM SO. I normally don’t like to say those words, but in April I wrote in this space that Prime Minister Freundel Stuart would in due course speak decisively on the country’s important issues instead of reassuring the populace just for the sake of doing so.
Since then, two “thoroughbred” calypsonians who were beaten by a newcomer on a donkey last Friday night berated the man for “saying nutten” and, like his numerous critics, have also been silenced.
They needed “an answer”, so Stuart has finally spoken firmly on a matter which is just as important to Barbadians as the bread-and-butter issues of food prices, health care and utility bills. That matter is intraregional travel, namely the REDjet affair which has implications for tourism, entrepreneurship, and the pocket of the average Caribbean person.
The annoyingly lagging REDjet issue has been quietly resolved in recent weeks, right under the calypsonians’ noses, after Stuart said at the July meeting of CARICOM leaders in St Kitts that while Barbados had certified the airline’s safety, other countries – namely Trinidad and Tobago and Jamaica – were second-guessing Barbados.
Adding that this country usually gave the fullest cooperation to other territories’ aircraft which fly here, he added that “if this is the way these issues are going to be handled, I only want to know the rules. I just want to know how people are playing the game; I can play the game as well as they can”.
Since then, REDJet chief executive officer Ian Burns has noted the Prime Minister’s role in getting the mentioned countries to quickly stop the delaying tactics.
The entire Caribbean, by now, is aware that Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago were not addressing the certifying of REDjet with any genuine haste; and as much as we’re accused of having short memories, Caribbean people are also aware of how loyal and overwhelming was Barbadians’ support of Air Jamaica and Trinidad’s Caribbean Airlines.
As a matter of fact, Barbados embraced BWIA, the pre-cursor to Caribbean Airlines, as if it was a national entity based in Bridgetown, for about three decades!
Furthermore, when Trinidad and Tobago’s Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar raised the likelihood of a ferry service investment at the same CARICOM heads meeting, Caribbean people could have predicted without batting an eyelid that a huge chunk of support would be coming from Barbadians.
The point is that intraregional travel is dear to many of us, and now as a result of Stuart’s intervention, spoken without fear or favour and echoed in subsequent conversations across the region, the airline is flying to Guyana, Trinidad and Tobago, Jamaica, and St Kitts – the last as a result of the blessing of CARICOM Chairman and St Kitts-Nevis Prime Minister Dr Denzil Douglas, who also wants it to take in St Martin.
Additionally, when the low-cost carrier finally touched down at Piarco International Airport last Thursday, Trinidadians welcomed the alternative choice, with T&T airport authority’s marketing manager calling it a landmark day in the twin-island state and for the CARICOM region because, according to him, “What could be achieved now through REDjet is what the CARICOM heads have been talking about for a long time – increased travel throughout the region.”
Since his “silence” on economic issues after taking on the mantle of leadership upon the death of Prime Minister David Thompson, and his “fireside chat” with CBC’s Rosemary Alleyne, Stuart has been pilloried as a man totally unsuited for these times of quick decision-making.
Since the resolving of the REDjet issue, however, there has been no commensurate response from critics. They “ain’t saying a word”.
 
Music of the day
A LOT OF MUSIC will be played on the road to Spring Garden today, Kadooment Day, most of it written, arranged, mastered and produced for competition.
Whether such competition is good or not for Barbados is an oft-debated issue that I won’t get into now, but what worries me is that most musicians on these shores often express a strong dislike – akin to gross ridicule – for these competitions which are the very fora for their music.
Local musicians want their work to be enjoyed by people across the board, and if it is to be judged at all, then probably at an academic or esoteric level.
But in Barbados’ situation, all we really have to lead our fledgling music industry is Crop Over whose musical base is competition: namely Pic-O-De-Crop, Party Monarch, Sweet Soca and People’s Monarch.
Therefore as musicians involved in producing music for those competitions, some of them need to stop repeating what amounts to disrespect of those who produce these competitions yearly, as well as the hard-working, serious artistes who keep the same musicians employed and relevant.
 

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