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JUST LIKE IT IS: Suki deserves better

Peter Simmons

JUST LIKE IT IS: Suki deserves better

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World Go-As-You-Please draughts champion Ronald “Suki” King has been a headline grabber locally and globally for many years.
Reports of his exploits normally dominate the sports pages, but his latest struggle and tearful photograph captured the MIDWEEK NATION’S Front Page.
Far from the draught board, he got caught in a rip tide off Dover Beach. We give thanks that his precious life was saved by a lifeguard and three others who answered his cries for help.
The newspaper reported him “feeling really, really depressed”. It also said: “His dire financial situation and inability to get assistance or a hearing from Minister of Sport Stephen Lashley and Prime Minister Freundel Stuart contributed to his state of mind.”
Deep disappointment, depression and desperation drove him into the therapeutic sea as a palliative.
I have written before in this space about seeing Suki washing cars in Oistins to raise funds for an overseas trip. He, like Sir Garfield Sobers, Rihanna and Ryan Brathwaite, has exploited his God-given talents to the fullest internationally.   
That notwithstanding, he is forced to raise his own funds to travel abroad to take on and beat the world’s best players, gaining recognition for himself and Barbados. Unlike those three national and international stars, his repeated achievements have not been recognized and he is constrained to find his own resources.
Rihanna, one of the richest young women in California who purchased her own home for in excess of US$7 million, was lavished with a house spot at salubrious Apes Hill and a car. Ryan was also given a car and land in St Thomas by the same mega land-owner, as was Obadele Thompson, who won an Olympic bronze medal.
Draughts class base is different. It is not played in the heights and terraces. It demands high levels of concentration and skill. Suki’s international achievements and acclaim are on the record.
If draughts were an Olympic sport, he would have brought Barbados several gold medals. Yet, as far as I am aware, the same level of largesse has not been lavished on him and his struggle is always uphill.
Any Barbadian who takes on world competition and comes out on top should be recognized, nationally supported and suitably rewarded. It is a national disgrace that Suki, recognized and treated abroad as a king but not at home, should be in dire financial straits perpetually and depressed. Surely he deserves better.    
The country must give thanks that his life was saved at Dover. His financial situation is now nationally known. The Government, constituency council and private sector must ensure that he is rescued from the ignominy of washing cars to fund his way abroad to beat the world and cover himself and Barbados in glory.
Unique handy man  
A recent newspaper advertisement by “The American University Of Barbados” excited my curiosity. Let me admit that I was unaware that this academic institution had or was preparing to establish in Barbados.
Under the caption Application For Work Permit, it read: “Having received no suitable application to our advertisement for the position of driver and handy man (plumbing, electrical, construction, fixing of lab equipment and appliances) who can speak Hindi and English, it is our intention to submit an application for a work permit for a non-national to fill this position.”
It is not surprising that no suitable application was received. From a population of about 280 000, it would be like scaling Mount Everest to find someone combining the vast mix of skills as well as speaking Hindi.
It should be entirely possible, however, to find a qualified Hindi speaker among the billion-plus Indian population. Why does an American university in Barbados, not Bangalore or Bangladesh, require an adroit, multi-tasking driver/handy man who speaks both Hindi and English? What is its market?
Will the faculty and administrative staff also have to be bilingual – Hindi and English? Or is it that the American University of Barbados is primarily targeting faculty and students from the Asian sub-continent?
I am aware that establishing offshore universities here, similar to some Eastern Caribbean states, has been advanced as one possible source of assistance in the economic downturn as a self-sustaining international university community.
But I enter a caveat. The authorities must ensure that any academic institution setting up here, especially incorporating Barbados in its name, can stand up to forensic scrutiny, is not fly-by-night and offers academic programmes which international and Caribbean students and faculty find attractive.
In some states a limited number of bursaries are reserved for host country nationals. It is to be hoped that our American University will not require Barbadian students to speak Hindi.

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