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Thursday, November 2, 2006

Spanish Everyone?


Dr. Lester CN Simon

Have you ever been so upset you go to bed and wake up still upset? Imagine yourself at a national church service to open the celebration of 25 years of independence. I am at the Antigua Recreation Grounds (ARG). I am no ultranationalist; not because I am running from the label that says patriotism is the last bastion of scoundrels. It’s just that I loath extreme positions; yet I love this country the way I love my family and close friends even though they upset me from time to time.

I am enjoying the national independence service. The pastor is carrying on far too long but I can do with a little (or a lot of) extra prayer. Then when he is through, I am invited to listen to some part of the service in Spanish in recognition of the growing Spanish community. Well, who tell him to say that? I am incandescent with rage and I throw myself for six out of the service by walking out of the ARG. In this country the official language is English. The misguided pseudo-national who engineered this nonsense must be joking, in Spanish. This is the mark of separation. I draw the line, not in some “wishi washi” sand but in indelible ink and lambent lights in the blue skies over this land. The official language of Antigua and Barbuda is English.

I love Spanish people and many things Spanish. It is said but unproven that the Simon families in Antigua and Barbuda derive from four brothers who came here from Venezuela. In the good old days when BWIA stopped in Puerto Rico en route to Antigua from Jamaica, I danced to Spanish music so well one night, you would think I was the joker of Seville, and all I wanted was mucho más (much more). I love the music of Willie Bobo (Puerto Rico), Manuel de Falla (Spain), Juan Luis Guerra (Dominican Republic) and virtually any music from Cuba. I love to hear Spanish people talk. I have at least 30 books and cassettes and compact discs on the Spanish language. I think all of us should learn to speak at least one, preferably two foreign languages, including Spanish. But the misguided national who decided that part of the independence service should be in Spanish must apologize for the nonsense he started and vouch never to repeat it. Otherwise I will seek residence on Redunda lest I become redundant in this adagio, moko jumby land.

We seem to be collapsing and losing our national nerve, leaving a gaping void to be filled by whosoever will speak and speak in their own tongue. I wish to remind the lento, misguided national that the first time there was such an open defiance of common sense and confusion over a common tongue for communication, the work on the Tower of Babel was halted and the people were scattered. Let this first time be the last time we disgrace Antiguans and Barbudans like that, or someone will have to find a tower high enough to disappear into his own fundament. The official language of Antigua and Barbuda is English. No comma, no semicolon; full stop.

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