Categorized | Local, Opinions

Awards’ Ceremony Glittered Dimly

By Claude Gerald

Whether it was territorial or national symbolism, the recent awards ceremony on the British Overseas Territory, Montserrat, designed to honour worthy citizens, gives cause for concern and for some discomforts as well.

Gold glitters but not everything that so resembles is made of it. One may look good, but be far from good.  It is not necessarily what you see and feel but the subtle underlying messages and intonations that present themselves which are the real indices of realism.

These messages are naturally triggering questions about the essential nature and thinking that arranged this awards ceremony in the first place.

It has had an insincere foundation conceptually; one not rooted in a wider vision of nation building as such but in an inner and narrow focus on setting up the ruling party, in form and substance for the upcoming elections. It sought to appeal to the administration’s detractors and to reinforce the appeal of its supporters; it was an attempt at self- rehabilitation in the public eye, selling itself as representative of a group of forward thinkers who embrace people and their worth.

Judging from that perspective the attempt was shallow, hollow, disingenuous and contemptuous.

The party’s organizational strategist, the celebrated calypso virtuoso, Justin Hero Cassell, brought his stellar years of experience in the entertainment industry that back boned the globally sensational career of his brother, the late Soca Star Arrow, to the fore. Notwithstanding his rare intellectual gifts, Justin is believed to be a hard wired, determinedly narrow minded operator, capable of further denying his stock of conscience, of relegating even his religious upbringing in pursuit of an objective that promises sustenance for him and henchmen – all faithful political supporters who engage in selling themselves for purposes inconsistent with the public good.

The thrust towards this event began at the beginning of 2013. The ruling stalwarts reenergized inexplicably the search for a national song under the direction of Justin Cassell; even though one had been selected since 1995 in the first Reuben T Meade’s turn in office.

Denzil Edgecombe’s song Montserrat My Country won then, in a contest with the combined authorship of Professors George Irish and Howard Fergus’s ‘Motherland’. It was never removed nor found unsuitable. It was recognized, sung and performed many times in the interim, up to August 2013. Professor Fergus congratulated Edgecombe on his selection accepting defeat gracefully. Legislative declaration was not a consideration or requirement then or now. It is a deliberate imposed fabrication designed to muddle and feign a formality. So the selection of the Montserrat My Country was a done deal. It is now being contended however that it was not. It remains indisputable though that once Edgecombe’s song was recognized by the executive council as confirmed by the Montserrat Reporter, its ratification by legislative council even if necessary was virtually certain. What occasioned the demise of Montserrat My Country’s status is a legal question that will be answered in due course?

Ayanna Irish’s rendition of the pretender Motherland, goose pimpled with her opera voiced performance; her body language and persona on stage ideally fitted the occasion and begged for an encore. It was truly outstanding, in every index of value in a choral presentation.

The selection of Motherland as the national song however, flies in the face of what is just, proper and moral in a society not short of church worshippers. What would the biblical Nathan, the Prophet, say to those who conspire, even by silence, to deprive Edgecombe of this single honour? The church, it is generally mooted, is the symbol of Faith and a mirror of social conscience; to dispute this is still sacrilege.

The authors of Motherland, with a breast plate of earthly trimmings that would have made the Ugandan dictator Idi Amin proud, stood at attention, hopped the stage to receive the poisoned chalice acclaiming their distinction in part. One cannot mind read just yet but they were straight faced in their acceptance and spoke of the history of the song as they sucked in relative honour with apparent heavenly glee. Conscience evaporated and took wings with so much ease; their moral barometers seemingly blinded as to the legitimacy of their authorship of the national song.

Is this the nature of the beast? What is the essential nature of these two gentlemen of Ordered Excellence? These are men of international standing; an engaging resume of leadership in civilian and private life; Priests, Parsons, Preachers, Evangelists ordained and proclaimed by their love and the acknowledgment of God in their lives; esteemed academicians and educated to the very hilt. Writers and publishers across linguistic boundaries; Her Majesty could have bestowed a Knighthood on both if requested and desired.

How can exampled leadership descend to such low basic levels and how does this behavior by these two patriots help in the evolution of the spirit of the nation of Montserrat and its Diaspora? Is there no restraint on the self in taking what is given; and even what is being litigated? Why have they made a contest in court even necessary? Where is the brotherhood that speaks to treating others as you treat yourself? Is leadership spiritually destitute? How could these goodly and seasoned gentlemen allow themselves to be hoodwinked by the machinations of a Premier and his side-kick Justin, both of whom at their best will struggle to pass the human decency index in decision making matters?

The unknowing or the uninitiated could reason otherwise. This is a moral puzzle that drives one to the scripture, which is a goldmine in   understanding human nature and managing relations. We judge men on form but God judges on substance. Jeremiah speaks eloquently of the heart of man. Essentially, he says, it is deceitful and desperately wicked. What does wicked mean? In Hebrew deceitful means sly, insidious and slippery; wicked means woeful, sick, frail and incurable. So our hearts are not only sick or woeful they are desperately sick and woeful to the point of being very incurable.

These men of humble rural origin, possessors of distinguished excellence of a higher order are no different from me and you in a spiritual sense, no matter their acceptance of the bestowed glitter, which vainly increases an unsatisfied and unfulfilled addiction to more of the world and its fleeting gifts.

The good book could have well said that unrestrained greed and selfishness is the cocaine that heightens our disregard for higher virtues.

So given the fundamental nature of mankind, we must not invest our trusts and hopes in the platitudes of men. We must therefore be appropriately and cautiously realistic in our assessment of citations that read with glitter and abundance.

When the political involvement of Professor Irish, the social revolutionary and agent of positive change on Montserrat’s cultural and educational landscape was not cited, it spoke to the work of cowards and apologists, who perhaps without the great man’s instructions felt the need to cover his uncomplimentary political adventurism with silence.

National Awards that glorify the truth are of the highest order. Only then must they live on and on and onwards.

Claude Gerald is a social commentator. He can be reached at ceegee15@homail.com

 

 

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A Moment with the Registrar of Lands

By Claude Gerald

Whether it was territorial or national symbolism, the recent awards ceremony on the British Overseas Territory, Montserrat, designed to honour worthy citizens, gives cause for concern and for some discomforts as well.

Gold glitters but not everything that so resembles is made of it. One may look good, but be far from good.  It is not necessarily what you see and feel but the subtle underlying messages and intonations that present themselves which are the real indices of realism.

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These messages are naturally triggering questions about the essential nature and thinking that arranged this awards ceremony in the first place.

It has had an insincere foundation conceptually; one not rooted in a wider vision of nation building as such but in an inner and narrow focus on setting up the ruling party, in form and substance for the upcoming elections. It sought to appeal to the administration’s detractors and to reinforce the appeal of its supporters; it was an attempt at self- rehabilitation in the public eye, selling itself as representative of a group of forward thinkers who embrace people and their worth.

Judging from that perspective the attempt was shallow, hollow, disingenuous and contemptuous.

The party’s organizational strategist, the celebrated calypso virtuoso, Justin Hero Cassell, brought his stellar years of experience in the entertainment industry that back boned the globally sensational career of his brother, the late Soca Star Arrow, to the fore. Notwithstanding his rare intellectual gifts, Justin is believed to be a hard wired, determinedly narrow minded operator, capable of further denying his stock of conscience, of relegating even his religious upbringing in pursuit of an objective that promises sustenance for him and henchmen – all faithful political supporters who engage in selling themselves for purposes inconsistent with the public good.

The thrust towards this event began at the beginning of 2013. The ruling stalwarts reenergized inexplicably the search for a national song under the direction of Justin Cassell; even though one had been selected since 1995 in the first Reuben T Meade’s turn in office.

Denzil Edgecombe’s song Montserrat My Country won then, in a contest with the combined authorship of Professors George Irish and Howard Fergus’s ‘Motherland’. It was never removed nor found unsuitable. It was recognized, sung and performed many times in the interim, up to August 2013. Professor Fergus congratulated Edgecombe on his selection accepting defeat gracefully. Legislative declaration was not a consideration or requirement then or now. It is a deliberate imposed fabrication designed to muddle and feign a formality. So the selection of the Montserrat My Country was a done deal. It is now being contended however that it was not. It remains indisputable though that once Edgecombe’s song was recognized by the executive council as confirmed by the Montserrat Reporter, its ratification by legislative council even if necessary was virtually certain. What occasioned the demise of Montserrat My Country’s status is a legal question that will be answered in due course?

Ayanna Irish’s rendition of the pretender Motherland, goose pimpled with her opera voiced performance; her body language and persona on stage ideally fitted the occasion and begged for an encore. It was truly outstanding, in every index of value in a choral presentation.

The selection of Motherland as the national song however, flies in the face of what is just, proper and moral in a society not short of church worshippers. What would the biblical Nathan, the Prophet, say to those who conspire, even by silence, to deprive Edgecombe of this single honour? The church, it is generally mooted, is the symbol of Faith and a mirror of social conscience; to dispute this is still sacrilege.

The authors of Motherland, with a breast plate of earthly trimmings that would have made the Ugandan dictator Idi Amin proud, stood at attention, hopped the stage to receive the poisoned chalice acclaiming their distinction in part. One cannot mind read just yet but they were straight faced in their acceptance and spoke of the history of the song as they sucked in relative honour with apparent heavenly glee. Conscience evaporated and took wings with so much ease; their moral barometers seemingly blinded as to the legitimacy of their authorship of the national song.

Is this the nature of the beast? What is the essential nature of these two gentlemen of Ordered Excellence? These are men of international standing; an engaging resume of leadership in civilian and private life; Priests, Parsons, Preachers, Evangelists ordained and proclaimed by their love and the acknowledgment of God in their lives; esteemed academicians and educated to the very hilt. Writers and publishers across linguistic boundaries; Her Majesty could have bestowed a Knighthood on both if requested and desired.

How can exampled leadership descend to such low basic levels and how does this behavior by these two patriots help in the evolution of the spirit of the nation of Montserrat and its Diaspora? Is there no restraint on the self in taking what is given; and even what is being litigated? Why have they made a contest in court even necessary? Where is the brotherhood that speaks to treating others as you treat yourself? Is leadership spiritually destitute? How could these goodly and seasoned gentlemen allow themselves to be hoodwinked by the machinations of a Premier and his side-kick Justin, both of whom at their best will struggle to pass the human decency index in decision making matters?

The unknowing or the uninitiated could reason otherwise. This is a moral puzzle that drives one to the scripture, which is a goldmine in   understanding human nature and managing relations. We judge men on form but God judges on substance. Jeremiah speaks eloquently of the heart of man. Essentially, he says, it is deceitful and desperately wicked. What does wicked mean? In Hebrew deceitful means sly, insidious and slippery; wicked means woeful, sick, frail and incurable. So our hearts are not only sick or woeful they are desperately sick and woeful to the point of being very incurable.

These men of humble rural origin, possessors of distinguished excellence of a higher order are no different from me and you in a spiritual sense, no matter their acceptance of the bestowed glitter, which vainly increases an unsatisfied and unfulfilled addiction to more of the world and its fleeting gifts.

The good book could have well said that unrestrained greed and selfishness is the cocaine that heightens our disregard for higher virtues.

So given the fundamental nature of mankind, we must not invest our trusts and hopes in the platitudes of men. We must therefore be appropriately and cautiously realistic in our assessment of citations that read with glitter and abundance.

When the political involvement of Professor Irish, the social revolutionary and agent of positive change on Montserrat’s cultural and educational landscape was not cited, it spoke to the work of cowards and apologists, who perhaps without the great man’s instructions felt the need to cover his uncomplimentary political adventurism with silence.

National Awards that glorify the truth are of the highest order. Only then must they live on and on and onwards.

Claude Gerald is a social commentator. He can be reached at ceegee15@homail.com