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Silence can be truly golden


RICKY JORDAN

Silence can be truly golden

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AFTER  THE DEMOCRATIC Labour Party Government was given its resounding mandate in January 2008, it took me about two years to understand that the Opposition believed its overarching mission and game-plan was to drive that government out of office with as short shrift as possible.
And for those among us who do not always think for ourselves or fall asleep from time to time when we should be alert, we became overwhelmed by very articulate noise, powerful personalities and indeed the strictures of our lowly status in life. But amid it all Prime Minister Freundel Stuart said little.
Issues that normally would have been faced and discussed with a measure of good old Bajan sanguinity, sagacity and objectivity were made to seem like horrendous mistakes, while varying individual financial challenges were likened to worst-case scenarios in Haiti or sub-Saharan Africa.
Issues ranging from Alexandra, CLICO, Four Seasons and Al  Barrack to football, for the most part had their genesis prior to 2008, but were thrown squarely at an apparently fumbling, quiet captain who seemed not to have a clue about dribbling, far less scoring a goal.
Granted, an administration and a national leader are there to solve the people’s problems; and one can point to Stuart’s favourite source, the Bible, to King Solomon’s renowned resolution of the issue between two mothers. It didn’t personally affect the wise young king but it affected his people. Barbadians are accustomed to that kind of leader who makes quick decisions; not one who is measured in speech and action.
Therefore we became impatient and accused the now elected leader of saying and doing “nothing”.
Hitherto non-partisan organizations became overwhelmed by the noise of criticism which was in stark contrast to Stuart’s silence, and compromised/politicized their own genuine objectives by buying into the philosophy of an impatient “government-in-waiting”.
The noise did not overwhelm Stuart but almost took some of us to the point where we doubted what was before our very eyes: blatant efforts to skew public opinion! But not all Barbadians, thankfully, ended up being blissfully buoyed along by those whose polls have now been proven wrong and others whose agendas now lie exposed.
Not being a good sportsman myself, I saw the game-plan late: in 2010 during the last stages of the late Prime Minister David Thompson’s illness. The vulture-like behaviour of some Opposition members was shocking to me as I realized the ousting of the then leader, Mia Mottley, was nothing less than an undignified rush to get her out of the way and circle above a dying body in eager anticipation of invading a defenceless flock which had lost its shepherd.
The DLP did not fall into disarray and Stuart quietly took charge; but the fact that there was no anticipated general election then but the formality of a by-election in St John seemed to strengthen the resolve of the Opposition and its supporters. The result? A political wedge through the heart of the country – hence Barbados’ avoidance, by the “skin” of its teeth, of a hung Parliament last Thursday.
But a victory is a victory, and that’s why I say today it is fair that Barbadians have given the mandate to the seemingly silent Prime Minister who, still at the learning curve of leadership after two years and a few months, has had to endure systematic undermining that would have diminished and corrupted a weaker and less decent man.
Despite the hatching of a coup, he did not shout or “gather up the weeds” and risk uprooting the wheat as well, but allowed both to grow together. He will also know, as a man of the Bible, what to do after the recent harvest.
Amid the noise, he did not fire anybody involved in The Alexandra School issue but established a Commission of Inquiry which gave free rein to all to air their grievances during the long 2012 summer. And even this was criticized as “a waste of taxpayers’ money”, notwithstanding the precedent of a far more expensive and inconclusive one into the St Joseph Hospital.
But the game is over, the game-plan has not succeeded, and more than half of the electorate have shown their appreciation for leadership qualities rooted in integrity, fairness and an almost passionate disdain for anything that smacks of corruption.
And what is particularly fair in all this is the presence of a strong 14-member Opposition which, chastened twice by the masses, should go into this new term putting Barbadians first and accentuating genuine concerns instead of acrimony, political gimmicks and noise.
God bless Barbados and its “silent” leader.
• Ricky Jordan is an Associate Editor of THE NATION. Email [email protected]

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