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Sunday, October 28, 2007



Dr. Lester CN Simon

Once upon a time, we had a history teacher at the Antigua Grammar School who made history; for real. He would waltz into class and rattle off his stories of English kings as if he and Henry, Richard, George, Edward, William and James were drinking buddies and he had gained access to historical facts that were secluded from all the history books in all the libraries in all the world. He did no home work. He did no school work. He did no real work at all. He was such a good storyteller, he became an ambassador; for real.

Teachers are not just highly valuable, they are highly vulnerable. They stand before a class of ingrates and are expected to mold fine sculptures out of lumps of clay. All the while they are doing this, the little, snotty wretches observe their every move within and without the classroom. The teacher is the first and last lesson.

It must be that some teachers deliberately teach nonsense just to see if their students are really learning. It cannot be that teachers are so daft to unwittingly teach abject nonsense. What would be the object, the verb or the predicate, the cause or the adverbial clause of such a proposition? Why, I can recall a teacher telling our first form that for that one week only, no one must stand up when he entered the classroom, and that anyone who continued to obey the normal, stand-up rule would be punished. And punished some of us were indeed. What about the response from the recently departed, enigmatic, mathematics teacher, Ottway Davis, when our entire fifth form decided to be rude to him by remaining seated when he entered the classroom one day? Without a filigree of annoyance, he simply and kindly asked us to be seated and got on with the lesson.

Good teachers teach their subjects very well. All of their students love them dearly and many students imagined they were their parents or their future wives or husbands, since, while students get older, good teachers never grow old. The really great teachers are remarkably different from the good ones. The great ones get us to learn the subject just as well but, crucially, they allow us to study the object critically. They, the teachers, are the object. To really learn, the student must become better and greater than the teacher. This is only possible if the faults of the teacher are exposed; if the vulnerabilities of both the teaching-subject and the teacher-object are scrutinized and argued fiercely. This romantic war between student and teacher can lead to temporary estrangement. So be it. The time must come when the former student walks away from the erstwhile master-teacher, puts away childish things and becomes truly independent.

It is in this general context that Antigua and Barbuda must emotionally walk away from excessive adherence to the Father of the Nation to become truly independent. This walking away is not a negation of the father. No; no; no, my dear good Labourites. Au contraire. It is an acknowledgement of the great works of the father because those very great works dictate and mandate the walking away. How else can plants propagate if seeds and spores do not abandon the parent tree and rely on the mercy of the wind of nature to find new fertile ground, confident in the knowledge that their father provided them with the gift of lasting life? Indeed, the father would be stark-raving mad with himself, dejected and unfulfilled if we religiously adhered to him, to the detriment of the springing up of new life.

For valid, historical reasons, we showered virtually all of our affections on the Father of the Nation. Even his nemesis, Tim Hector, praised him highly, at least as much as he criticized him harshly. (And we must do the same to Tim). However, the arithmetic of emotions dictates that if we put all our love and affection into one national personage, we will shortchange the love and affection we have left for the country. Our wars of liberation naturally created heroes; and heroes we must have. But some heroes are so powerful, too powerful; we have to deliberately pull away, or take them in doses, admixing their good, bad and ugly qualities.

Could it be that after he would have done something wrong (he had his faults), the Father of the Nation was appalled at the way we would continue to praise him as if we were docile idiots? He must have felt that we were, at those times, the dumbest, most “foolie” people on earth to genuflect to his occasional rubbish. Where were the harsh counterarguments, the banter, the taunting viragos and the running, verbal battles that he loved so well; on which he had cut his political teeth? He must have wondered, as he wandered lonely as a cloud, over vales and hills, where, oh where was the crowd, the host, of golden Tims?

At 26 years of age, as we get older and wiser and hopefully more independent, we understand that we must cherish dearly all those who went before; all those slaves and all those free men and women, natives and foreigners of every hue and dye, who fought to build this blessed country. The only fitting epitaph to all our national heroes, sung and unsung, especially the greatest of them all, the Father of The Nation, is a declaration of independence to balance the equation of national emotions. Take some emotions away from him and put some of these sterling passions into the nation of Antigua and Barbuda, if only because that is precisely what he did and what he would have wanted us to do, to be like the best and noblest part of him.

Happy Independence.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

When Will We Learn?


Dr. Lester CN Simon

He remembers the days when liming was an art? To him, it was considered infra dig to appear even languid or, worse and much harder, appear indifferent, without taking an obscure, gallant stand and making a vague, valiant effort at it. He was such a naturally funny guy, he thought paradox was when you stood beside the dock of the bay. He would swear that Rasta was a colloquial expression in Italy for really bad pasta; after all Italy did invade Ethiopia.

He would also swear that he would never burn in hell because like his father, he was destined to be a carpenter. His father had philosophized that if he, the father, was mistakenly sent to hell, Jesus would call him up into heaven since he and Jesus were fellow tradesmen. Some sort of trade and workers union code, he thought. But somebody must have told him, the son, that the world owed him a living; so he exercised an extremely low level of his innate intelligence and became an imperfect idiot.

There were crucial stages in his development when he knew he was very good at doing some things, like quickly putting similar shapes together in kindergarten and understanding at once concepts like A and B are not just for apple and bat, but for Antigua and Barbuda as well. He was bored stiff in school, so much so, he would walk with a stiff bop and he had to cause trouble on purpose (and on other pupils) and make noise to stay awake. He was such a naturally funny guy.

Then one day, he met a man who told him how and showed him how to control people and make lots of money doing it. He was such a naturally funny guy in need of a challenge, he thought he would give it a try. First off, he had to learn the rules, not just to obey them but to know when to break them and replace them with new rules of his own making. For example, the customer is always right; my foot. The customers must be made to feel that they are always right whilst he, the seller, knows best.

Everyone is a customer or a potential customer because everyone has problems and it is his job to spot the problems. For example in the wake of a fatal shooting (some wake it will be indeed…I told you he was funny) near Sir Vivian Richards Stadium, an articulate and discombobulated woman called Observer Radio to suggest that some other name for the location be used to site the murder, so as not to sully the name of the great, living, national hero.

He was temped to call into the radio program but why enlighten the disturbed ones. He would have called to suggest that we say that the awful murder took place sort of south of Barbuda and sort of north of Montserrat. That caller was a potential customer in a state of denial; and many of us are in the same boat. This meant that with thousands of us in the same boat, we stood a very good chance of drowning ( I told you, he was funny).

He remembers someone in England responding to a riot by black people against injustice from the police some time in the seventies. It was said that black people in England were not a major problem since music, women and drugs would always pacify them. The Indian, Pakistani and Middle Eastern people were considered the real enemy since they had economic and scholastic power mixed with fervent religious practices. That was long before 9-11. Beware of still waters, he learnt, everywhere; and beware of stereotyping all waters. But isn’t stereotyping seeing people in at least two (stereo) ways? I told you he was funny.

So, to learn his new business well, he had to study hard and debunk some of the myths along the way. When it is said that the pervasion of drugs is due to people in desperation seeking economic opportunities, do not be fooled by the algebra. Desperation is relative. One customer may be striving for a single, well-balanced, decent meal on the table for his or, more likely, her family. The relative desperation is a brother or cousin (I told you he was funny) trying to buy a new jeep for his sixth girlfriend; ok, make it the third girlfriend.

He learnt that drugs are like electricity. Lots of people are connected; some more than others and some are not even aware of the current, or is it the currency (I told you he was….). Indeed, all countries have a drug problem. You think drugs can be in hell and Satan and his acolytes don’t know about it? In fact, in some countries the rich, powerful, professionals and officials are so connected and invisible, it is left to the black underclass to bear the brunt of the problem. That is one of the problems with some black people, he realized. They stand out. Some other people can steal so well, they even steal away your eyes from seeing them stealing. But some black people are such great novelists, they believe the dictum: Show, don’t tell.

And so, one major problem unnerved him as he set out on his new business venture. If all countries and all cultures have a drug problem, what was so peculiar about black people to make our drug problem so devastating? He refused to blame white people, if only because they need and do use electricity too. Is it our national state of denial that forces us, in understandable desperation, to turn the geography of Sir Vivian Richards Stadium on its head?

Freedom is a strange exercise. When it comes, from whatever or wherever it comes, it requires a new restriction, a new, hard working steadfastness to a responsibility and authority that is reminiscently contradictory since it harkens back to an ugly past. And this ugly past will remain ugly until we face up to it and understand slavery was firstly economic until someone did some clever race marketing.

And so, he reasoned, since we did not learn well the freedom from our first slavery, maybe if we become embroiled and totally immersed in a new drug slavery with all the killings and torturing with house slaves and field slaves all over again, we would escape some time in the future from this second slavery and learn our lesson well this time. He had always noticed in school, in every class bar none, that some people are hard of hearing and just have to be told twice; they just have to undergo an experience twice, before they understood. And so now I can tell you, we are all so naturally funny.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

All Dressed Down


Dr. Lester CN Simon

I like the one in front. I like the one behind. As a matter of fact, I like all the girls and I wish all the girls were mine. But not in these times. Jill and I were going up the hill to fetch a pail of water when my good friend Sammy asked me to help him plant a piece of corn in the gully. Quite sensibly and rightly so too, and moreover, being a farmer in a dell, Sammy explained that more water could be found down a gully than at the top of a hill. Plus, it was easier going down a gully than climbing up a hill. Furthermore, getting out of a gully was like going up a hill. So Sammy said I could bring Jill with me down the gully, if she wanted to come along, since there were plenty ears of corn to plant.

Shucks; Liza would have been a better companion down the gully. She was such a liquid, totally sweet-watery soul. So much so in fact, she drowned. Since then, every time I remember Liza, think about my nice girl Liza and wish Liza could come back, water comes to my eye. Liza. What a night, what a night, what a Saturday night. Long time girl since I haven’t seen you, I wish I could hold your hand. Long time girl since I haven’t seen you, I wish we could walk and talk.

But what about the brown girl in the ring? She looks like sugar and plum and she could show me her motion as she skip across the ocean. But silly me, I might get seasick, remember Liza and water would come to my eye. The trouble with Brownie was that her old lady went walking a mile and a half and she might just see us going down the gully to meet Sammy. Strange, Brownie had complained that every time she passed, we looked at her. Every time she passed we looked at her; so much so, she was going to tell her mother not to send her down there any more.

So it was Jill and I who went down the gully. But before I fell down and broke my crown, there was a strange sounding song coming from Sammy. Down the way where the nights are gay, the sun shines daily on the mountain top. Lord, see me trials. I got so frighten, my foot slipped out of the mango root-top, took a trip on a sailing ship and only when I reached Jamaica I made a stop. So I'm sad to say, I'm on my way and I won't be back in the gully for many a day. My heart is down, my head is turning around, I had to leave my little girl Jill before she came tumbling down.

Was it all a trick to get my girl, Jill, or was Sammy just different and greedy in an unusual becoming usual kind of way? After all, I remember when someone called him a black sheep and asked him if he, the black sheep, had any wool. He had said, yes sir, yes sir, three bags full: One for his master, one for his dame and one for the little boy who lived down the lane. Only the devil knows what is going on in Sammy’s, the farmer’s dell.

Rumor has it that Sammy’s son, Tom, stole the pig and away he ran. Rumor says the pig was eat, Tom was beat and Tom ran “crying” down the street. And recall when Sammy’s brother, Tommy Tucker sang for his supper? In these health conscious times, all he sang for was white bread and butter. How could he cut it without a knife? How could he marry without a wife?

So did Sammy plant the piece of corn in the gully? Did it bear till it kill poor Sammy? Is Sammy dead, really dead, oh? Although he stole my girl, Jill, it was not because he was a thief or usually unusual why Sammy is dead. It was the grudge, a greedy grudgeful thing for me and my girl Jill. That is why, like his father, Solomon O’Gundy, Sammy was born on a Monday, he christened my girl, Jill on a Tuesday, married her on a Wednesday, the wretched bastard took ill on a Thursday, grew worse on Friday, died on Saturday and was buried (in the gully) on a Sunday. That was the end of greedy, grudgeful Sammy.

So, like a lump of dump, I now sit on a wall. If, one fateful day, in remembrance of things past, I should have a great fall, please tell all the king’s horses and all the king’s cast of men not to try to put me and Jill and Sammy together again.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Ancient Lands


Dr. Lester CN Simon

I knew I had entered a strange and enchanting place. I dressed differently. I was in uniform, with a cap and a tie. The boys played a fierce, dangerous game called corkings. I had a little grip. I had a desk all to myself. I was given a book of Latin grammar. It was in fair condition. Someone joked that it had been used by all the old boys. Some of their pictures adorned a wall in a big form that I would enter in years to come. There was a family likeness about this unfamiliar place.

It became more unfamiliar when we were instructed to learn the declension of mensa, the Latin for table. As if that wasn’t enough, we were given a preview of the forthcoming conjugation of verbs. Declension of nouns, conjugation of verbs? These were big words in a big school for big boys, like me.

It started to get clearer when we were told that in Latin, nouns have six cases. I knew it. I knew it. This school was so special, even the nouns were different. And I would become different too. I will have my own declension. After all, my first name could undergo the same declension as mensa, with a minor alteration of course. So, with that incentive and the flair I had for recitation at my village church, I embarked on the singular form of the first declension of Latin nouns:

Unlike, recitations at church and reciting the golden text to every, single visitor to my maternal grandmother’s house on Sunday evenings, Latin grammar demanded detailed explanation and I had to proceed from the familiar to the unfamiliar to get it right.

In the nominative case, the noun is the subject of the sentence: The table belongs to the school. In the accusative case, now called the objective case, the noun receives the verbal action: The boy broke the table. The genitive case is now called the possessive case: The table’s legs are uneven (The legs of the table are uneven). In the ablative case, there is an indication of the means by which the action is carried out. In English we use prepositions such as by, with, from, in and on for the ablative case: The boy is standing by (or on) the table.

So far so good. To understand the dative case, I had to learn that verbs can be transitive or intransitive (or both). For an intransitive verb, the action begins and ends with the doer: I laugh. she smiles. For a transitive verb, the action passes over (transits) from the doer to another person or thing: The boy broke the table.

I also had to learn about the object in a sentence. The word that is affected by the action of a transitive verb is the object. There are two kinds of objects: In The boy broke the table, table is a direct object since the table receives the verbal action directly. An indirect object is indirectly affected by the action of the verb and it always comes before the direct object in a sentence: The boy gave the table (indirect) money (direct). The dative case or indirect object is often
eliminated by using the actual word, to or for: The boy gave money for the table.

Most troublesome of all was the vocative case. Why would I say, “O Table”? To me initially, it was all part of the strangeness of that august place. After some sarcastic addresses to the table (O table), to my adulterated first name (Lesta: “O Lester”) to other pupils (O Benjamin; O Samuel) and to our Latin teacher (O master), I put the vocative case in its place and got on with the business of learning and enjoying Latin.

Decades later, I discovered that none other than Winston Churchill (and many others) encountered a similar difficulty with the vocative case of mensa (O table). Winston Churchill enquired of his form master what it meant. He was told that “O table” would be used in addressing a table, in invoking a table or in speaking to a table. It is reported that Winston Churchill blurted out in honest amazement to his form master that he never spoke to a table.

In response, his form master terminated the conversation by invoking the whip and promised that we would punish Winston Churchill on his backside, and very severely too, if he continued to be impertinent. It is written that Winston Churchill recorded, “Such was my first introduction to the classics from which, I have been told, many of our cleverest men have derived so much solace and profit.”

The Latin for table is mensa. The Latin for land is terra. Both nouns undergo the same, first declension in Latin. Those who understand the vocative case and are bold enough to address a table, to invoke a table and to speak to a table, might very easily, like Winston Churchill, be heroic enough to address the land, to invoke the land, to speak to the land and come to understand the meaning and value of land.

Hence, if one the lions of the British Empire, Sir Winston Leonard Spencer Churchill, a noted statesman, orator and strategist, knew that many of the cleverest men derived much solace and profit from Latin, we, Antiguans and Barbudans, will chant in the plural form of the first declension when they come for our lands: Terrae, terrae, terras (how lovely), terrarum, terris, terris. Terrae, terrae, terras (you get it?), terrarum, terris, terris.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Talk Talk Talk


Dr. Lester CN Simon

On my native island, where land and sea make beauty and people and people make ugly, nothing is what it appears to be; neither is it otherwise, according to a Zen master. An elder cousin, my first Zen master, said to me when I was little and pleaded with him for some of his pomegranate: “Who beg narn get and who na beg na warnt”. In these Zen circumstances, you have a trichotomy of choices. You can mope and do nothing, or you can walk away, call your favorite radio station and talk, talk, talk, or you create something new in place of the nothingness and plant your own pomegranate. It took me a long time to do a Columbus on that.

In a very incisive book called, Democracy and The Foreigner, Bonnie Honig invites us to change the topic from how to solve the problem of foreignness, to what problem foreignness can solve for us. Honig is a professor of political science. Grasping the meat of her insightful book is wonderfully aided by a review by Ellennita Muetze Hellmer of The University of Chicago.

At the heart of foreignness is the awakening of a familiarity of ourselves that can be illuminating or darkening, depending on the path we wish to follow. In fact, these two parallel paths must be pursued at all times for the good of society. The geometric fact that parallel lines do not have a definitional meeting place translates into the possibility that our love-hate relationship with foreignness may be a healthy one. It affords an essential and everlasting questioning and answering of the relationship between us natives and the state.

It is said that a foreigner is someone who makes us think we are at home. We are all familiar with the sudden intrusion of uninvited guests. Are we really upset with them or with ourselves? Can it be that they are simply showing up the tattered, open-sesame fence around our unkempt yard, the shaggy mongrel, or worse, the “licky-licky” pedigree dog that we cannot control, the garage full of junk and the absence of a clean, clear glass of “good water” even for ourselves? The fact that the place is dirty is not the glaring point. The burning shame is that they make it a little dirtier. The bed is unmade, chairs are all over the place, one of the toilets can’t flush properly, curtains are torn or absent and yet they come and “rample up” the place? Give me an aspirin; or the whole darn pharmacy.

Honig posits that debates about foreignness help to shore up our national and democratic identities. Anxieties, channeled appropriately, are one of the cornerstones of a good, democratic society. If we are anxious about foreignness and voice our concerns, it may help us to register other anxieties as well.
Societies must always be renewed in order to grow. The questioning of foreignness is actually a mirror-on-the-wall opportunity to compare our energies and attitudes and look at how we treat others and ourselves and how our government treats us.

But there is this local biliousness that makes us bitch against some foreignness (justifiably so in some cases), curse our government flat for not looking after us, and yet a simple community project in dire need of our almost effortless assistance goes a begging with a cold shoulder that will freeze a collar bone under a midday West Indian sun. The reason? It’s because we are disinterested. We just do not care and we cannot bother, until foreignness reminds us of what can be done with what we have. And even then we become more apathetic, if only to underscore the otherness of the foreigner.

Many types of relationships are empowered by foreignness (Be careful!) if we accept the ambivalence that foreignness brings. To this end, Honig urges an ongoing re-examination of the relationship between nationals and foreigners taking into account the natural and healthy suspicion and ambivalence that will lead to our re-examination of the relationship between all citizens and the state. Interestingly, overt attention to foreigners who look like the native majority and who are in great numbers may mask the possibility that a covert minority of others are eking out disproportionately more from the state.

In a remarkable touch of irony, Honig points out by way of an example that foreigners allow us to see a quintessentially democratic process at work. She contends that there are foreigners who give and foreigners who take. We natives love the ones that give. Ironically, the foreigners that take or wrestle away the rights of the state rather than wait for them to be granted are exercising a crucial democratic right that we the complacent natives allow to slip away or have long forgotten. And in our annoyance and defense of our rights, we abjectly refuse to claim and wrestle away these very same available rights. Why? Because politicians are supposed to deliver them to us gift-wrapped under a golden bow on a silver platter.

Foreigners and natives alike must come to accept that, like many good relationships, the contradictions and ambivalences, if earnestly exposed and espoused, can afford the growing and transforming of the relationship. This transformation should lead to incremental gains for all, even as new parallel lines with no obvious rendezvous emerge. So gird your loins and join the battle against fear, hate and poverty. The healthy debate must continue. The Zen master reminds us that it takes a wise man to learn from his mistakes, but an even wiser man to learn from others.

Monday, October 8, 2007

My Native Land


Dr. Lester CN Simon

Friends. Antiguans and Barbudans. Countrymen. Open your ears. Antigua and Barbuda is dead. Long live Antigua and Barbuda. The old country is passing away before our very eyes. A new state is coming into being. Ask yourself what it means to be an Antiguan and Barbudan. Ask yourself, because that is all you will do. You dare not answer the question. Not because you do not know the answer. But because you are afraid of the answer.

Well, let me tell you what Antigua and Barbuda means to me. My first sense of belonging to something other than my family, my church, my school and my group of friends came to me at a little corner in my little village of New Winthropes. On the four arms of this corner we had the church, the steel band, the shop and the union hall. I was proud to be a member of the juvenile branch of the Antigua Trades and Labour Union (AT&LU). I was ecstatic when, as a juvenile, I was given the key to open the union hall and attend the big-people-AT&LU meetings. How proud I was to hear a meeting called to order, proceed in order, overcome sprinklings of disorder, and end in order. Yes, it brought order to my wayfaring life. I recall the war between the sacred noise of the church and the profane bedlam of the steel band and how they seemingly settled into some sort of dissonant harmony.

What sense of growing nationalism I had, came tumbling down with the consequences of the fracture of the AT&LU over the estrangement of George Walter and Donald Halstead. In 1968, I witnessed the widespread labour unrest, the demonstrations and riots with the deployment of soldiers and fire trucks. A schoolmate got shot and wounded near Big Church. When I left here in 1970 for university, I was glad to leave. On the morning of my departure, I deliberately walked around my house and told all the plants, trees and animals goodbye and swore they would never see me in this land again. When I returned in 1983, friends from my last 3 years at Antigua Grammar School were so few and far between, I ran and hugged the first one I saw. Where had all the flowers gone?

To me, Antigua and Barbuda means separation. Seemingly, there are more of us outside the state than those of us living here. Historically, we have always been a transit state. Ironically, because of the flood of foreigners that have come in (to replace the flood of natives who have emigrated), we are now seeking more fervently than ever to find our national soul.

The leaders of this country have to understand a simple thing. They cannot cater to foreigners to the extent that natives continue to feel ignored or left behind. Let me say it in ways they can understand and that can be printed in a respectable newspaper. If you are in a relationship with person A, and (for whatever reason) you are courting a relationship with person B to the extent that person A is badly affected, you know what will happen. Person B will be smart enough (hopefully) to realize that the same estrangement between you and person A can happen to them too. In the final analysis, there is no relationship at all. This is where we are in this country right now; in a state of un-relatedness and disinterestedness. Some of us have become so disinterested, instead of using the active, grammatical voice to say we cannot bother, the passive voice saying we cannot be bothered is more suitable, literally.

Moses was born an Israelite but he was raised in Egypt in Pharaoh’s house. One school of philosophical thought says that Moses did not enter the promise land because his nationality was ambivalent. Leaders must understand that foreigners always know their place. When we are foreigners overseas or when foreigners come here, we all abide by this unwritten rule. But the same industry and drive that drive all of us to become foreigners also drive us to take whatever is available, even if that means taking over the whole adopted country or the promised land, unless rules, customs and burning bushes militate against this.
The stark irony that native Antiguans and Barbudans face is that we have to continue to seek to find our national identity whilst we embrace those foreigners who have helped to build this country. Some of them have been more patriotic than our very own. In this regard, natives and foreigners come face to face with an ambivalence that would make the causes of schizophrenia look like a pleasant Sunday afternoon beach picnic. The only way out of this national malady is to continue the healthy debate on what it means to be Antiguan and Barbudan. Natives must be the hypotenuse of this triangular relationship between us, politicians and foreigners. Otherwise natives, politicians and foreigners alike will perish and we will continue to define and redefine Antigua and Barbuda as a transit state.

The alienation of natives living in a transit state is in keeping with the ethos and pathos of our main industry, tourism. Frankly speaking, all this moko-jumbie talk about tourism being everybody’s business is making me sick. Who is everybody and what does everybody do? How can we take away Half Moon Bay from one owner and give it (the whole half-moon) to another? Were we natives born in a taxi or with serving trays and cleaning implements in our hands? The only sensible thing to do is to let citizens of this country (natives and foreigners) buy into it. This does not mean it will be run like some sort of insipid, pepperpot business.

There are successful ways, with the appropriate education and training, to run a hotel or any other business in which the people can invest their money and their pride. And for those who say it will fail, let me remind them of all those brilliant, foreign investors who have failed miserably. The future of APUA will help to define our ability to move from chaos to a new economic order. The rabid inability of two of our brightest and bespoken patriots to agree on the mode, pace and sequence of this transition is top ranking testimony to the lack of a clear, conjoint, pragmatic vision of the future of this transit state.

Imagine therefore my angst when I read in The Daily Observer a few days ago that, “A Cabinet subcommittee will meet with Sir R Allen Stanford … which time the billionaire investor will, once again, present his vision for Antigua and Barbuda……The latest meeting comes on the heels of the partial disclosure of the judgment on the Asian Village”.

First of all, my dear good people, let me say to all those jumbie-crab neaga who keep on saying that Antiguans and Barbudans knew nothing about these offshore islands and all of a sudden we are drunk with adulterated, moonshine nationalism, that they miss the proverbial point. The separation between us natives and the offshore islands is the very same separation between us natives and the mainland where we live. Separation is the constitutive, defining culture, the etymology, of Antiguans and Barbudans. Why then do we want to heap further separation on ourselves? The nascent nationalism will be totally extinguished forever.

It cannot be a coincidence that on the same day Stanford was reportedly due to meet with the Cabinet subcommittee, it was announced on Observer Radio that the mental hospital will be upgraded to the tune of 1 million dollars. Not nearly enough money, if you asked me.

An Unfiniished Symphony


Dr. Lester Simon

I write to associate my name with the suggestion made by Joanne C Hillhouse in The Daily Observer of Wednesday 19 September 2007 that each of us buy a block or whatever we can afford to finish the public library. The unfinished public library is a joke gone too far. A public library is not just a place for reading. We used the old public library on lower High Street over thirty years ago to socialize and chat up each other. We understood that we were in the presence of great men and women whose works and ideas were indelibly recorded and re-recorded when the unique scent of old paper whistled through the air and reminded us to be quiet; to be still and know. We learnt the meaning of silence in a crowd.

Many years ago in Martinique, I was admiring the library so much, someone suggested that I returned at night to see how picturesque it was and the throng of people congregated outside just to admire it and feel good about themselves. I declined the invitation on the grounds that someone would read my mind. Maybe, just maybe, the lack of a public library here, with the equivalent lack of respect for the value of paper, is responsible for all the paper strewn all over the place.

Seriously though, the most important reason for completing the public library is rooted in a very simple but profound lesson we all must learn in a library. When you borrow something, you must give it back for others to use or pay the penalty. Isn’t this what life is all about?

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

The Gospels of John and Simon

The following letter appeared in The Daily Observer newspaper in response to my article. First and Second Corinthians.
Click for enlargement.

The Following reporsents my reply to John, posted the very next day.