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Jomo Sanga Thomas is a lawyer, journalist, social commentator and a former Speaker of the House of Assembly in St. Vincent and the Grenadines. (iWN file photo)
Jomo Sanga Thomas is a lawyer, journalist, social commentator and a former Speaker of the House of Assembly in St. Vincent and the Grenadines. (iWN file photo)
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By *Jomo Sanga Thomas

(“Plain Talk” May 24, 2024)

Euphoria, a short-lived burst of extreme pleasure, happiness, and excitement, often gives way to despair. In contrast, reality-driven conversation is a fact-based, reasoned analysis of a situation, offering a more balanced perspective for decision-making and emotional understanding.

In much the same way that opposition politicians love calypso and hard-hitting social commentary, governing elites despise reality. Those in power would love to feed the people a constant diet of feel-good, pie-in-the-sky alternate universes where everything is nice and jolly.

As we move towards the next general elections, this is the template from which we are to gauge the narrative and counter-narrative of the major contending parties. Gonsalves and his clansmen want us to remain or become giddy over his “accomplishments”. Look for him lauding SVG’s ascension to the United Nations Security Council (2020 -2022), Pro-tempore presidency of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) and hosting of its 8th Summit last March, the opening of Sandals Resort and ICC Cricket T20 World Cup next month and the $600 million modern port in Kingstown.

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Don’t worry, be happy is their mantra. Any questions about cost, feasibility, desirability and sustainability are brushed aside as lamentations of an envious and jealous Gonsalves-hating band intent on bad-talking St Vincent and the Grenadines.

Everything and anything is reduced to the tired repetition of high-sounding cliches: noise in the blood; chords of Africa, Asia, and Europe; SVG is a post-colonial economy that’s at once national, regional and international; knowing the cost of everything, and the value of nothing… Glitz and glamour are celebrated and hard-nosed reality-based conversation is frowned on.

The furore raised by the ULP over the NDP billboard at Gibson Corner must be viewed in this context. Citizens must not allow themselves to be misled. There is increasing fear and alarm among citizens about crime, gun violence and homicides. This wild claim by the governing party and its hangers-on is nothing but a tempest in a teapot. The notion that tourists would view the billboard, be scared sick and rush for the first plane out is nonsensical. Modern tourists are some of the most informed, savvy and alert persons on earth. They are not going to come here seeking a crime advisory. 

As the election fever heats up, why bury our heads in the sand? We need to maintain an assassin-like gaze on the conditions in our country. What in heaven’s name does it mean to make the country look bad? Truth stands naked before the world. If anything, the opposition’s billboard incorrectly states our reality. We had 55 homicides last year. 2022, with 42 homicides, was also a record. To date, our nation has recorded 15 homicides, with some questionable discovery of dead bodies not yet added to the list.

The billboard discussion has exposed an ugly side of our political landscape. Within days of the billboard’s erection, a state entity, the discredited Physical Planning and Development Board demanded that the NDP remove it. One day’s notice! It is crystal clear that the Planning Authority has neither legal nor moral standing to speak on the placement or removal of billboards. 

Evidently, the governing elite is power-tripping. The roads are littered with billboards featuring Gonsalves’ face. Does the ULP party and government have special permission to keep their billboards on public display? Are there different rules for those in power and those aspiring to govern our country?

Dr. Friday must not comply with the planning order. If Gonsalves wants the billboard removed, let him send his simps to dismantle and remove it. 

We need more billboards, not less. Citizens must not allow themselves to be drugged into nothingness. They must become aroused and incensed when the government engages in undemocratic and autocratic activities, all the while refusing or failing to address the urgent and depressing conditions the majority are compelled to endure. 

There should be a billboard reminding us of the ULP 2007 boast that SVG was on the cusp of an economic takeoff. Why, close to two decades later, are we still at the bottom among CARICOM by any and every metric of measurement?

We need billboards that expose government corruption and the use of insider information to enrich the governing clique. 

We need billboards that lament and highlight the damning statistics related to poverty (40%), youth unemployment and underemployment (60+ per cent), begging among young and old, growing homelessness of the elderly, and drug addiction plaguing young people.

We need an opposition pledge that, upon the immediate assumption of power, it will reemploy, with full benefits and compensation, all those teachers, police officers, and other public employees dismissed following the vaccine mandate. Yes, place that on a billboard too.

We need a billboard that pledges a good governance package of increased democracy, transparency, accountability and integrity legislation. 

Euphoria is important to governing politicians because they want the people to remain drugged by the cotton candy trivia. They want people to forget their hell-like living conditions and gravitate towards the instant gratification of a free concert and freeness, which, for a fleeting moment, causes them to forget their misery.

Whenever Gonsalves and his clansmen embark on another anti-people adventure or bark insults at the majority of voters whose support it has lost, the people must resolve that this must be the last insult.

The governing elite wants us to wind and grin as elections draw close. The people should be forewarned against gimmickry, mimicry and bribery. There should be a billboard that calls on citizens to eat them out, drink them out and vote them out.

*Jomo Sanga Thomas is a lawyer, journalist, social commentator and a former senator and Speaker of the House of Assembly in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

The opinions presented in this content belong to the author and may not necessarily reflect the perspectives or editorial stance of iWitness News. Opinion pieces can be submitted to [email protected].

7 replies on “When reality confronts euphoria”

  1. C. ben-David says:

    The question is not whether to “vote them out,” them being the ULP members of parliament.

    The question is whether to “vote them in,” them being the candidates representing the NDP.

    Regardless of the faults of the ULP, electing an NDP government bereft of any ideas except selling our precious citizenship to sketchy people unable to obtain lawful entry to First World countries, a party of lacklustre candidates well past their “best before date,” would be an unmitigated disaster for the social and economic well being of our people.

  2. Lisle Brown says:

    Wow Jomo.
    You Hitting hard this week my. Brother. Unfortunately lots of our citizen are still caught up in the Red and Yellow band wagon. They are lost and cannot focus on the real issues that will continue to affect them after the election is over and the wind and dine has gone.
    The begging and suffering will begin. Keep the pressure on my friend. The NDP should be taking notes.

  3. Joseph Henry says:

    Instead of worrying so much about tourism,why not put some more interest in bringing back the banana industry.We are a country with rich agricultural resources but no markets. Why not put more in improving the roads and building industries to get more out of our rich agricultural resources. Putting so much dependence on tourism and leaving the rich agricultural resources neglected, is not the best way.The ULP had so many years in power and how many viable industries connected to agriculture do we have? There is something that Vincentians are not looking at. Why are so many agricultural lands left empty and unproductive on the island? The lands make the people productive,when there is market. They are also able to be self-employed and independent citizens, who don’t have to depend on government handouts. They don’t have to be licking politicians boots for jobs and favors. When the government is the chief employer in the country, it is easy for the powers that be to victimize those who don’t vote for them.. People are afraid to speak out, for fear of losing their little job.People vote to get a favor, getting a job or a scholarship from government in the country. Instead of looking squarely at the realities in the country and vote for the welfare of the country. People are forced to look the other way. because they are afraid of the risk of loosing their jobs and favors. The banana industry was a calculated wipe out, to keep the majority of people dependent on the government. The lack of interest in agriculture by the government, is for the same reason. To keep the majority of the people tied down to their party and begging the government for a little job to live. Wake up Vincentians. Remember, the days of back to the land, get up and get. The ULP government has succeeded in developing a land hating, agriculture despising young populace in the country. The strategy works well for them and they would never put much in making agriculture profitable and productive. That would give people their power back ,to vote them out, when they are not doing any good for the masses.

  4. Patrick Ferrari says:

    Geez Mr Thomas, you left out “rattling of the bones” from Ralph’s tiresome cliche short list. Seeing the list laid out bare made me realize that Ralph has his own AI system. I mean, after twenty-three years of giving hour-long speeches, any future speech on any topic is already there on his hard drive. It just needs shuffling around.
    There must be hundreds of children across SVG whose parents do not know a prime minister besides Gonsalves and that gives Ralph strength. Strength to act like if SVG is his square inches for true. It is like, remove your ugly facts billboard from my square inch but my Kim Jong Un style billboard can stand—is my square inch it ‘pon.
    Twenty-three years of raw power have a way of rattling the brain.

  5. james joseph says:

    Most people seems to forget the very first address svg maximum leader made after getting the green light from Michell he said ” agriculture is dead tourism is the way to go ” ,this was after James Micheall had told Tom Adams ” you bring the tourist and we will feed them ” ,svg was then almost the main food and water hub of the caribbean ( yes we exported plenty water too ) ,today svg is worried about food security and asking Guyana to assist us in teaching our farmers to farm food and not just plant weed ,( weed was all the farming needed to be done in the eyes of maximum leader )only a darn fool would put tourist above food and we have seen this happen in svg , agro lands being taken away ( but not up gause mountain ) and fisher men having to give in to friends in the tourist business yet it would seems that our people are yet to learn from trusting a maximum leader in a small island

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