Letter to Sammy
My determination to avoid the charge of petty-island nationalism has hitherto stayed my hand from expressing my support for you despite the many opportunities to do so.
However, after noticing the total blackout of gratitude following the West Indies 4-I victory over the touring New Zealand team in the One-Day series, my human decency urged that I balanced the equation by saying thank you, and by acknowledging your leadership role in the victory.
It does not stretch the imagination to determine what would have been the media response had the outcome been reversed. Certainly, there would be no hesitation in placing the blame at your feet. Any schoolchild could have written the editorial damning you, from a cut-and-paste of old commentary from the usual suspects. Notice how badly you were maligned for bowling two overs short in the one match that we lost. At least, through the negativity, there was a “backhanded” acknowledgement of your economical bowling.
Worry not, though, since many write for external readerships.
Your calm and dignity in the face of such unbelievable hostility tells me that you need no lessons from me on how to shoulder your burden. Indeed, I have witnessed far more seasoned and “educated” political leaders in our region resort to crudity, vulgarity and vindictiveness in the face of milder opposition.
However, I feel compelled to remind you that what you are facing is a result of our region’s acceptance of inherited colonial notions of MDC/LDC, centre/periphery, small island/big island and urban/rural dichotomies which continue to determine “who gets what when and how”.
Remember that we have inherited an authoritarian tradition and are now learning habits of civilized public discourse. We are often unnecessarily cruel. Those who have sacrificed the fullest for the collective happiness are often the least loved, and the most maligned.
Despite this, continue to remain a true Caribbean patriot.
As you face your own leadership challenge, remember that Sir Grantley Adams of Barbados was viewed as coming from too small an island to earn the respectful followership of others. But history has a way of bowling googlies, and only those willing to learn its lessons can read the turn. Unity is essential since yesterday’s MDC is today’s economic basket-case.
So bear your burden, Darren, but stay strong, humble, decent and dignified. Give it your all and trust in your ability, which, despite what the critics say, places you among the top tier of the current first class crop.
Remember, that a leader far greater than you was rejected for being from too insignificant a background to be taken seriously. “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?”, they derisively asked of that leader. So bear your fate, Darren Sammy, but continue in faithful service to the still oppressed Caribbean people.
One love, my brother.
• Tennyson Joseph is a political scientist at the University of the West Indies, Cave Hill Campus, specializing in regional affairs. Email [email protected]