By Anthony Stewart, PhD
The ringing of a bell is not an easy task. Those of us who attend church regularly know that that task is usually assigned to someone with strength and vigour. When the well-dressed Miss Millie made her way to attend an important function at church and say her son in the steeple with his tear-bottom pants ringing the bell she had no alternative but to turn back in shame. Those who do not attend church regularly may not appreciate all that it takes to ring a bell.
The election bell is a heavy one. When Papa claims to have rung the bell, this may have been one of his delusions of grandeur. Nancy recognised that in his old age, he could not ring the bell when he was forced out of office at the turn of the century, so he gave the task to the young economist Eustace. Papa is mistaken thinking that he was the only one who could get things done. Having shown evidence of delusions previously, no one seemed to have been taking note of them:
- Promising civil servants a 30% salary increase
- Stating that seven is greater than 10
- Claiming that the forced sale of the national bank was a master stroke
- Borrowing from the pension fund to pay the pension fund
As we age, we may think that we can do the things we were able to do when we were younger. Nevertheless, we soon come to the realisation that we must allow the skilful young and able to carry on as we retire.
Undoubtedly, Papa, having accomplished the construction of the AIA, does not seem to have any other reason to stick around. It is normal for persons to disengage once their most important goal is achieved. His worry is that the funding of the airport is a millstone around the necks of Vincentians, preventing adequate funding of road construction as promised, proper pest control for farmers, adequate medicine at the hospital, proper management of endemic diseases, making the Education Revolution work and getting the economy going. All these noble goals must be achieved by someone else, as Papa cannot.
The old men in Caribbean politics do not seem to recognise when it is time to go. Michael Manley and Edward Seaga of Jamaica, Vere Bird of Antigua, Tom Adams of Barbados, Herbert Blaize of Grenada, Eric Williams of Trinidad, James Mitchell and Ralph Gonsalves of St. Vincent and the Grenadines. Must the country be bankrupt before they go?
So Papa attempted to ring the bell but only managed to toll the bell. After all, he may be aged, unfit and unhealthy. He has a failing sense of direction and is struggling to adapt to change. He cannot entertain the thought of letting someone healthy, more energetic and able person doing the task. This begs the question: For whom the bell tolls?
- Was it for the mother and child both of whom died in childbirth?
- Was it for those who have died of dengue?
Undoubtedly, Papa was tolling the bell for himself as it signalled the end of his long political career. As he retires, he would work only when he feels up to it. Perhaps write a book or two, give a lecture here and there, take care of his family or just become a resource person for others seeking advice or doing research.
The views expressed herein are those of the writer and do not necessarily represent the opinions or editorial position of iWitness News. Opinion pieces can be submitted to [email protected].