Good CSEC performance from youngest secondary school

The island’s youngest secondary school, J.W Fletcher Catholic Secondary School is gloating over its outstanding performance in the 2017 CSEC examination.

Laurel Bartholomew – Principal, JW Fletcher Catholic Secondary

According to school principal, Laurel Bartholomew the institution had a 63.76% pass rate with its first set of form five students sitting the exams.

J.W Fletcher was transitioned from a Primary to a Secondary school five years ago amidst controversy under the rule of the 2008-13 National Democratic Congress (NDC) government.

A total of 29 students, comprised of eight boys and 21 girls, wrote the exam this year.

With the exception of only one student, all the other students received passes in several different subject areas.

In an exclusive interview with THE NEW TODAY newspaper on Tuesday, the Principal said that the school secured approximately 14 ones in different subject areas; citing Physical Education with 10 passes – all 1s.

“… In the English A, we have four students getting 1s, Agriculture Science, we had two students getting a 1”, she added.

Out of a curriculum of 23 subjects, Bartholomew disclosed that the maximum number of subjects that were attempted by two students was 12.

“We had one student which is the head boy actually gaining thus far, 10 passes…among them he had two 1s with it. He is still awaiting that of Principles of Business which is one of the subjects that is to be clarified with the CSEC examinations,” she told the newspaper.

She made reference to two students who sat 11 subjects and ended up with 9 subjects and there was another student who wrote 11subjects and passed in seven of them.

“…Our valedictorian for this year would have done 10 and got eight and is awaiting the same Principle of Business,” she said.

According to Bartholomew 100% passes were secured by J.W. Fletcher students in Agricultural Science, Religious Education, EDPM (Electronic Document Preparation and Management), Physical Education, Textile Clothing and Fashion, Food and Nutrition and Technical Drawing.

In addition, in the area of Information Technology, the pass rate was within the 85% mark, Spanish 75%, Geography, 50%, while English, Social Studies and Caribbean History, got a 86% pass.

The principal attributed team work and support from teachers, parents and other stakeholders for the success of the students in CSEC 2017.

“We have a formula here – Character plus academic equals transformation and there were (other) various factors I would say. We have a good support team work in terms of teachers…”, she remarked.

Bartholomew who is the second person to be appointed as Principal of the school praised her predecessor, Elvis Morain, the current Chief Education Officer in the Ministry of Education for helping to lay the platform for the good performance in the exams.

“…We have what you call a mentorship programme – some of the teachers are assigned to specific students so their task is to motivate them. Then, we have class rep, ..the parent rep… (and) we try to organise what we called class meetings so we can meet with the parents, give them updates, ask for them to help with motivating the students and we’re seeing the reflection of the returns in terms of the measure in, the measure out”, she remarked.

“…I really want to say thank you to teachers, auxiliary staff, parents, various stakeholders. I would say for a young school, already we are proving our mark and I think parents should not hesitate now but to see it as a school that would be a force to reckon with”, she said.

Bartholomew also took the opportunity to congratulate some of the past students of J.W. Fletcher who continue to make a name for themselves.

“I want to send congratulations to some of our students who have graduated in the first year and have now graduated at TAMCC, particularly Akim Williams who was our Valedictorian in the first year. He graduated with honours and he is now off to study in Trinidad and want to wish him all the best in his studies.

“Then we have Anil Frederick, who would have studied Social Work at TAMCC. He too represented his class in Barbados, so he was not there for the graduation ceremony but was down for actual graduation. Then Alicia Bell, she too graduated from TAMCC…”.

SMC Drops Steelband Panorama Ball

It is said that you can judge a society by how it treats its young, its elders and its culture… In one fell swoop, Grenada disrespected and threw much shade on all three of these factors.

And the Pan season in Grenada came to an abrupt halt when hundreds of musicians turned up to perform and found there was no stage built, so after weeks of preparation, their competition was cancelled.

Spicemas Corporation, the entity overseeing for staging Panorama, is led by Kirk Seetahal. Seetahal and members of his board tasked with the responsibility for Grenada’s Panorama must step down immediately.

His incompetence or outright display of contempt for Grenada’s Pan culture over the past three years is obvious, well-documented and needs no further comment. However, it would be useful for the Prime Minister of Grenada to go on a fact-finding mission and attend the Panoramas of Trinidad & Tobago, St. Lucia, St. Vincent & the Grenadines, and Antigua & Barbuda as a means of coming to terms as to why Grenada failed so miserably in staging a successful Panorama in 2017 with the whole world watching.

Grenada, like its fellow Caribbean countries, has a globally respected Pan community. However, once again we see what happens when the supporting entities lack the ability to bring the respect, talent, know-how and professionalism, that can match that of the performing Steel Band community of Grenada.

Grenada Prime Minister Keith Mitchell said in an interview after the fact: “Panorama debacle is a national embarrassment.”

Mr. Prime Minister, you have a year to get your act together. Let’s see how many heads will roll. The global steelpan community is watching.

Pan Tuner

Playing a role in Venezuelan crisis

For Sir Ronald Sanders to suggest that “…it was prudent of four CARICOM governments – Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, Saint Lucia – not to associate themselves with a declaration issued in Lima on August 8th, by 12 member-states of the OAS that gathered (with the CARICOM four) of their own volition in Peru…” is anathema to the aspirations of all the peoples of America.

In fact as a Grenadian ex-pat living in Canada I find it embarrassing that Grenada of all CARICOM countries, with its history of Cuban advisor/s sitting in at cabinet meetings during those 4 plus years of non-democratic Marxist rule, should now sell its soul for some oil and openly support the ongoing tragedy in Venezuela.

The people of Venezuela have been shut out of their Assembly now that the Maduro narco-infected regime has completely transformed the Assembly so that there is no opposition…other than civilians demonstrating in the streets, subjected to arrests and murder by the armed forces.

Who does Sanders think will be representing their voices at any CARICOM negotiating table now?

The wealthiest Latin-American nation with the largest oil reserves in the world is unable to feed its people.

Why are there so many Cuban military “advisors” sitting in at the controls of the Venezuelan government…reminiscent of the Revo days in Grenada?

Unless Sanders is in fact a closet communist sympathiser, I fail to understand his supposed neutrality when he criticizes the 11 Latin American CELAC members and Canada for their proactive role in the signing of the Lima Declaration.

George A Soltysik
109 Wilson Drive
Milton, ON L9T 3J8
Canada

Planning a better carnival!!!

The following is my considered thoughts on our Carnival.

To my mind the 2017 Carnival was one of the worst I observed in Grenada since Independence simply because the Powers-that-be do not know that Steel band music is one of the main pillars of Carnival and when we do not have Panorama and Steel bands parading in our streets we really had no real carnival.

I was in St. George’s for J’ouvert and the one Steel band which was on the streets was drowned out by the ultra-sound DJ’s.

Carnival this year was “Jab Jab” or “Devil Mas” with emphasis on dirtying everything and blackening everyone.

As I listened to comments and try to obtain the facts, I had to conclude that the Ministry of Culture and the Grenada Cultural Foundation have no standards or specifications for Carnival so they do not know what is truly Grenada Carnival and allow calypso songs and the dances to degrade our women folks particularly the loss of respect for our women folks.

Even more disgraceful is some of our persons’ loss of respect for their own bodies and the flagrant abuse and use of alcohol.

It is against this background that I want to offer the following suggestions as we begin to plan for the Grenada Carnival 2018.

(1). I would like to see the Steel Band Panorama Competition move to “Progress Park” in St. Andrew and we design portable Blocks that can be stored for future years and we encourage school aged youngsters to expand their interest in Steel band music where even the official Police band can be a blend of steel band and our normal band. Perhaps steel bands can be encouraged and accepted in Churches instead of the organ and piano.

(2). I would like to see the Ministry of Culture and the Grenada Cultural Foundation set their priorities and do not have some activities competing with our Steel bands.

(3). I would like to see Standards and Specifications set up and enforced for Calypso lyrics and any vulgar and other words be so designed so that they are not so crude and explicit. Perhaps some of the Calypsonians and their lyric writers go through training courses to develop our calypsos.

(4). I would like to see that the DJ Bands with ultra sounds of several hundred Decibels be dismantled and the “Noise Pollution” practices be controlled and standardised so that we may not be deafened by the loud noise.

(5). I would like to see us enjoy J’ouvert with its social commentary and responsible practices so that we do not aim at demonstrating “Sir Isaac Newton’s Second Law of Motion” that states that “Entropy goes downhill” and that it is easier to have disorder rather that order and that everything and place should be dirty and disorderly.

So as I close, I hope some of my thoughts and suggestions be considered as we once again upgrade our CARNIVAL.

Dr. E.R. Buckmire

Panorama 2017 and the “Capture of Public Spaces”

Panorama Postponed:

On the evening of Saturday, August 12th, Pantastic Friday, the unthinkable happened! To the disbelief of the scores of pan players assembled to perform and their faithful fan base, Panorama was postponed – supposedly because the stage had not been constructed in time!!?? How was this possible?! Panorama happens every year and is one of the official events of Carnival. Everyone is aware of the tremendous logistic effort, time and expense required to move a steel band so, unless there is a national emergency, these factors must be considered and notice given well ahead!!

This year, again, the issue of the clash of Panorama with a party event hosted by a private promoter had surfaced. And, not only was the event being held on the same night but also at the same venue as Panorama, a practice which begun in 2016. In 2016, pannists complained of the unholy haste with which their bands were hustled out of the area to make way for a “White” party. They felt disrespected and were hurt. And it seemed that in 2017, they would not even be welcomed at the stadium.

Earlier on in the week, members of the general public had heard that the pannists were unhappy with a proposal by the Spice Mas Corporation to move Panorama to the Tanteen Netball Court. However, on the Friday evening newscast, the public was advised that differences had been settled and that Panorama would be held at the official Carnival venue. And then, this fiasco!!

Capture of Public Spaces by Private Actors:

This last minute postponement of Panorama MUST NOT be taken lightly by the people of Grenada, whether or not involved in Carnival. This incident is just another symptom of an issue way beyond pan – a troubling trend in Grenada, supposedly in the interest of “progress and development”, a capture of public spaces by private actors to the disadvantage, even exclusion and detriment of the ordinary citizen.

The postponement of Panorama, is NO DIFFERENT from attempts to arbitrarily relocate Camerhogne Park to accommodate foreign investors or identifying Quarantine Point for the location of a Blue Innovation Institute, identified as the mechanism to facilitate debt swap. There is NO RESPECT and no consideration of the rights of the ordinary citizen. Move out of the way in favour of “investors” and “investment”. For whose benefit?

Whom did the postponement of Panorama benefit? Panorama is the premier pan event of the country and everyone knows of the dedication, the effort and the hours put in by all involved. It is one of those events that displays the best of Grenada. It also bridges the inter-generational gap and is a significant youth development investment since most bands are dominated by young people, most of whom are school students.
What does this decision signal about the respect and value that the “authorities” place on the investment and contribution of those in the pan movement?

What happened to Panorama must not be seen in isolation of other incidents and happenings. It is useful for Grenadians to recall, that the Queen’s Park property before “the advent of progress, was the people’s property. It was a GIFT to the people of St. George’s for recreational purposes from one Ms. D’Arbeau. It was one of the biggest and prettiest public recreational areas in the Caribbean.

Politicians of successive administrations, in their deliberate judgment, without any input from the REAL OWNERS of the Queen’s Park property or competent technical advice, made decisions about the use of the space, putting up various built structures.

Then during the period of 1997-2003, there was the construction of a cricket stadium and an athletic stadium. Before the advent of this “progress and development”, Queen’s Park boasted several football fields and a small pavilion where EVERYTHING of note happened – from national to local, from political to religious, cultural and sporting events.

It accommodated ALL and sundry. Most events that took place in “the park” were also significant income – generating opportunities for small vendors. Both stadia crumbled like a pack of cards during the passage of Hurricane Ivan in 2004 and were restored with the largesse of the People’s Republic of China – the cricket stadium in time for Cricket World Cup 2007 and the football and athletic stadium in February 2016.

For whom were these facilities constructed? Whom were they intended to serve? How accessible and affordable are these facilities now? Are small vendors accommodated at events in the national stadium?

While it has probably faded from the memories of most, it would do us well to recall that in 2002, Grenada floated a US$100 million bond at commercial rates to pay off its debt on the stadia, among other things. That US$100 million bond, external debt, is at the core of the Grenada debt situation for which we the people are all “sacrificing”. This external debt has been restructured and Grenada has negotiated a “haircut” with the bond holders. It is quite possible that it will finally be settled by a DEBT FOR NATURE SWAP.

One may well be asking what is the point? What is the relationship between postponement of Panorama and the external debt? The point is we the people are still paying for the national stadium. The national stadium, a public facility, is the official venue of the finals of most Carnival events. Panorama, as an official Carnival event, therefore has FIRST right of use of that stadium. It only happens once a year, at the same time every year.

Perhaps, it is useful here to note some of the “authorities’” future plans for the national stadium. At a Press Briefing of April 27th, 2017, we the people were advised of an “excellent meeting” held with the Minister of Finance of Qatar who would seriously consider sending a technical team to assist Grenada in creation of a “sports village’ which would involve the reclamation of land from Cruise ship to Queen’s Park – expanding St. George’s and creating space for offices, business buildings, more sporting activities.

A look at the “Blue Growth Coastal Master Plan”[1] identifies plans for a national sports centre and sports village which “will include the existing National Stadium grounds as well as the adjacent hilltop land”. The reclaimed land along the coast would provide “key waterfrontage for creating a comprehensive national sports complex”.

The following has been identified: – tennis pavilion, field house, aqua centre, offices, hilltop housing, resort hotel, practice field special events ground”. This is another example of the planned capture and privatisation of public space – national stadium and surrounding grounds, coastal area. For whom is this development? Who will be the REAL beneficiaries?

The postponement of Panorama should be a REALITY CHECK – another symptom of that cavalier attitude of the “authorities” towards we the people. This attitude did not start yesterday. But we did not pay attention. What else should we expect? How much more should we tolerate?

Let us stand up for the right of Panorama at the National Stadium until an alternative location is mutually agreed! Standing up for Panorama is standing up for Grenada!

My Reflection of Spicemas 2017

Let me take a moment to reflect on Grenada’s 2017 Carnival and all the shows and parties. I continue to always look forward to going to Grenada for Carnival and that won’t change.

There were a number of great takeaways from this year’s carnival. One of my biggest takeaways was the quality of music and sounds that my small country produces. Another was J’ouvert and the Spectacle of Monday Night Mas.

Every year the soca artistes and calypsonians are getting better and better. My favourites were “She gave me the fork when I finish eat.” Clever indeed! The others were “Shades over my eyes and I’m high, No personal” “Mind Games” and “Jumping together.”

Little Natty and Thunda, you’re good and I’ve seen your growth and development in the soca world. While your song is good for Grenada and other nationals outside of Grenada, try making music that can be transferable to the international market. That’s the growth of a great and marketable artist. Not everyone “drinks the rum and gets up the next day.” A large percentage of people suffer with alcohol related diseases and disorders. Liver problem is a big one as well as diabetes.

With regards to the different shows like “Xtreme White and Preeday”, I join with Benjai in his song a few years back in saying, “I’m tired of the same thing over and over.”

Preeday lacks originality and Tallpree, you need to come with something different. Please, think outside the box. I do appreciate what you’ve done for Grenada and the artform but C’mon man! Twenty years of the same thing!

To those of you who plan on going to Grenada for carnival in the future, here are some of the parties that will get your monies worth: La Vida, Parties at the Yacht Club, Jab has Class, Sunny Side Up!

Oh yes, in my opinion Sunny Side Up and Jab has Class were the best parties for Carnival. Also, please take in a few boat rides like the Bikini Cruise, Darkers, Colors, Shades, Twilight, etc.

The Bikini Cruise has always been my number one….. just buy your tickets early. Also, try going to Mt. Moritz Breakfast. Great community event and people.

On a sad note, what happened to panorama and pan in Grenada should have never happened, but everyone saw it coming and those “White Shows” didn’t kill pan. Please read Janice Augustine analysis on it.

My take, the pan men and the Grenada Pan Association bear huge responsibility for this downfall. Let’s not be too quick to blame the government.

Also, I’m very concerned about the high level of alcohol consumption in Grenada, especially among the young people. Sadly, we are slowly becoming a drunken nation! I have seen too many grown men and women, drinking and falling down.

It was a sad spectacle to see teenagers walking the streets, drinking alcohol. Over 95 percent of the soca songs are about alcohol (rum) and women. How sad is it that you can get away with drinking while driving but you’ll get a ticket for not wearing a seatbelt? Both are very dangerous!

Please, the power-that-be, parents, civic societies and the church, do something for the sake of the children and the country. Too much alcohol! I plan on writing more about this and also to offer my professional expertise in this area.

On another note, I would like to address the negative label or stereotype of “Just Come Back” (JCBs). While some of us do give our local community numerous examples of that behaviour, I do take umbrage to the use of that label or stereotype to describe those of us who come often to visit our beautiful homeland.

That label is offensive and needs to stop! Even the local DJs are using it in parties….”Where are the JCBs?

“Welcome to Grenada, JCBs.” Yes, we returning nationals are placed in the same category as those who for one reason or the other may give people the impression that they’re showing off, looking down on people, etc.

Let’s not label each other. I must admit, I have never been referred to as a JCB in person; however, I do wait patiently for the person who would sadly make this mistake.

Some of us who live outside of Grenada have done more for Grenada than most of you who live there. So be careful with labels.

If I do recall, I believe it was Sherma Wells who coined that phrase but I may be wrong. Instead of labelling your returning nationals, try getting to know them and their stories.

I look forward to debate anyone who disagrees with me on this topic. Let’s have an evidenced based debate, but not on your feelings or opinions.

To all the local bands that play at the different hotels, restaurants and bars, keep the good quality of music and continue to make Grenada proud. You’re an asset to tiredness in Grenada.

Congratulations to all the winners of Spicemas and to all those who participated.

Thank you to my buddies, David Bullen, Michael Don Ashby, Marcus Gabriel, the real jab jabs Justin Hazzard and Dwight McIntyre and the many others I met for another great trip to Pure Grenada.

Let’s do it again! Folks, Grenada nice!!!

Dr. Anthony Bridgeman

Grenada rated a top Southern Caribbean Cruise Destination

The leading cruise review site, CruiseCritic.com has recognised Pure Grenada, Spice of the Caribbean as one of the top five Southern Caribbean destinations for cruise.

CruiseCritic.com recently announced the winners of its second annual Cruisers’ Choice Destination Awards based entirely on consumer ratings submitted to the website for trips within the last year.

The awards name the top cruise destinations across 15 regions worldwide.
CEO of the Grenada Tourism Authority (GTA), Patricia Maher says the award is a testament to Pure Grenada’s popularity.

She further stated, “The GTA has been working closely with the Florida Caribbean Cruise Association (FCCA), major cruise lines, the Ministry of Tourism and key local stakeholders to improve product offerings and keep Pure Grenada top of mind when planning itineraries.”

Cruise Critic boasts the world’s largest online cruise community, with more than 350,000 cruise reviews, covering approximately 500 cruise ships and over 300 worldwide ports.

About Pure Grenada, one consumer wrote, “Very nice island. Enjoyed walking around the downtown area” while another commented, “Beautiful port, took the water taxi to the beach with a number of our family members.”

Speaking of the awards this year, Senior Executive Editor of Cruise Critic, Colleen McDaniel explained, “Itineraries are incredibly important to today’s cruisers who are more focused than ever on where they’re going and what they can do while they’re there. Cruise lines have focused on expanding their offerings to quench that thirst for exploration – and this year’s list of winning destinations shows the wide array of adventures cruising offers.”

Ahead, of the upcoming cruise season, Pure Grenada is already buzzing with a number of new onshore excursions to cater to every taste.

These attractions include culinary tours that introduce visitors to Grenada’s world famous spices, hiking tours to some of Grenada’s breath-taking ridges in the north and the Grenada High wire canopy obstacle course set in its mystic rain forest, ‘Bean To Bar’ chocolate tours, pristine white sandy beaches, gorgeous waterfalls, underwater adventures and much more are there to be enjoyed.

Netherlands Insurance give support to Performing Arts

Netherlands Insurance has extended congratulations to event promoters for their support of the performing arts during Spicemas 2017.

Cross section of patrons at 10 to 10 Soca Fete

“It was especially encouraging to see that these events employed a significant number of Grenadian artistes and performers, needless to say all the other services behind the scenes in the performing arts industry”, said Managing Director of Netherlands, Richard Strachan.

He went on to say: “These experiences gave entertainers the opportunity to perform for large audiences to enhance their skill while showcasing the diverse talent Grenada has on offer.

“I applaud event coordinators for using the talent we have right here at home as main acts and as supporting acts which performed alongside other regionally/internationally acclaimed Soca stars”, he said.

This season, Netherlands Insurance continued its support for the performing arts by sponsoring a number of pre-carnival events including 10 to 10 Soca Fete, PreeDay, Extreme White, Rotary Carnival All-Day Fete, Summer Crew ‘Secret Garden’ Mas’ Band and their events over July-August, as well as sponsorship of Conception Dance Theatre to attend CARIFESTA in Barbados.

“I am confident that with the continued support of event promoters, corporate sponsors and the wider public, the performing arts will continue to flourish in Grenada,” Strachan remarked.

Pan Association speaks out

The Grenada Steelbands Association (GSBA) has blamed the state-run Spicemas Corporation (SMC) for the cancellation of this year’s Panorama competition due to the lack of a stage for the panmen to perform.

President of the Grenada Steelbands Association, David ‘Peck’ Edwards

“It’s not our responsibility, it is (the responsibility of) Spicemas Corporation (SMC) (to provide the stage for the National Panorama Competition)”, said GSBA President, David “Peck” Edwards.

In an exclusive interview with THE NEW TODAY newspaper last week Thursday, Edwards said it was up to SMC to provide the platforms for the individual known as “Double D” who was contracted to build the stage at the national stadium at Queen’s Park to hold the National Panorama competition.

His comments came against the backdrop of statements made at a press conference hosted by the Ministry of Culture and SMC last week Wednesday to address the national embarrassment caused by the cancellation of one of the premier events in the annual Spicemas festival.

The officials pointed accusing fingers at “Double D” who failed to deliver on his promise to have the stage ready in time for Panorama which should have been held on August 12.

The lack of a platform for pannists came to the fore during the holding of the junior Panorama competition on August 5 as the competing bands were forced to play on the open ground at the stadium.

According to Edwards, there was an agreement after the event that the senior tournament would be held on an erected stage.

He told this newspaper that “the ground, especially on grass and sand is not the best platform to have steel bands perform (because) it absorbs sound.”

He recalled the difficulty that Judah Sounds and Lights, who rented the stage to SMC for Panorama last year had with panorama because of the weight of the canopies and the chassis.

Edwards said it was agreed that a stage would be constructed at least three feet high in front of the Junior Murray/Rawle Lewis stand at the national stadium for the 2017 Panorama.

Head of SMC, Genevieve Gibbs told reporters at a press conference that ”Double D” was “fully paid” to build the stadium on August 9,- three days before the event.

She said that he agreed to have the stage delivered in time for Panorama.

In error, Gibbs said that the amount paid to “Double D” was $900.00 but investigations conducted by this newspaper revealed that a total of $9, 000 was handed to the contractor to complete the work.

The SMC head indicated that a team had visited the project three straight days running and noticed that nothing was being done by the contractor.

“…We visited the project again early Saturday morning (the day of Panorama) and nothing was done”, she said.

According to Gibbs, it was at this point that contact was made with Stephen Greenidge, the arranger and senior pannist with Commancheros Steelband, who had recommended “Double D” for the work.
She spoke of Greenidge giving assurance that the contractor would start work on the stage at 7.00 a.m on the Saturday morning.

“At 2.00, we again visited the compound and Mr. Grieenidge was there assisting with the construction of the ramp (and that was when) he (Double D) then indicated that they needed an additional 45 platforms (sheets of plywood to finish the job)”.

Gibbs went on: “…When we got to the stadium at 6.00 p.m (two hours before the start of Panorama), the stage was probably three quarter (Completed)”.

According to Edwards, during a meeting on August 2 between GSBA and SMC, the carnival body had told the association that “they couldn’t find a contractor to build the stage” and wanted Panorama to be held at the Tanteen Netball Complex.

“…We said “no”, it is not the suitable spot for Panorama because unlike the Junior Panorama where the bands are limited to 30 players – (the senior) bands are as big as 90 players in Panorama”, he said.

Edwards stated that the venue was not suitable for a Panorama competition given the number of surrounding walls in close proximity to each other.

He said: “To have walls surrounding and a concrete base…it’s just too much sound in one facility. It would be too much sound in one facility (and that) judging the competition would also be an issue as the judges would have been too close.

The GSBA President indicated that one of its members, Greenidge, said he knew someone who might have the material needed to build a stage at the stadium for Panorama.

Edwards spoke of Greenidge calling “Double D” on the phone to ask him if he had enough scaffolding and other materials to build at least a 40-feet by 60 feet stage, which was the minimum pan needed for Panorama.

“DD (Double D) indicated that he had some material but only had 30 pieces of (the) flats (plywood) that would be needed to cover the base of the stage. Spicemas had in its possession from the Junior Panorama flats for 28 feet by 56 feet, which it was our understanding (that) they would make available to DD to finish completing the stage.

“So we were of the understanding that DD would provide the rigging and the foundation for the stage, 30 platforms and the remains would have been provided through Spicemas for the completion of the stage.
However, the contractor reportedly encountered a major setback when he arrived at the stadium on August 9 to start work on the stage as the authorities at the facility informed him that they did not received instruction from SMC on erecting the platform.

“So DD could not have started the stage as was intended, that was the first set back. Secondly, as DD had already indicated, he did not have the number of platforms that were needed so he went ahead and put up the base with his scaffolding and the platforms that he had (and was) waiting to get the use of the platforms that Spicemas had in their possession (for) the Junior Panorama, only to find out that maybe one of the service providers came and took the platforms that may have been rented to Spicemas for a period of time. So that is not DD’s fault…you cannot blame DD for the stage not being completed”, Edwards declared.

He is laying the blame totally on SMC for not ensuring that everything was done to ensure the erection of the stage.

Lessons from India’s partition and Charlottesville’s strife

On August 14 and 15, Pakistan and India, respectively, celebrated the 70th anniversary of their Independence from Britain, a country whose policies, as an occupier, fomented – and then bequeathed to them – the hostile communalism that led to their partition and their continuing antagonism.

Religious dissimilarity, as Muslim and Hindu, proved more defining and more divisive than common ethnicity, common culture, common foods and shared history.

The invented notion that Muslims and Hindus were two distinct communities and that they rivalled each other for access to economic resources, social development and domination, was deliberately promoted by the British colonial power to divide and rule the two groups.

It was the only way that a small, foreign occupying force could control a vast country and a huge population. As Muslims and Hindus set against each other, the British thrived on their disunity, transferring wealth that enriched Britain and impoverished India for almost two centuries. This phenomenon could not have occurred if the people of India had remained cohesive.

Of course, except for Mahatma Gandhi, who was assassinated by a Hindu for being too accommodating of Muslims, the local politicians stoked the fire of communal rivalry for their own narrow political purpose. None more so than Muhammad Ali Jinnah whose political ambition drove his battle for partition and the creation of Pakistan.

In accentuating that difference, Jinnah on the one hand, and Hindu nationalists on the other, let loose demons of violence that wounded their communities so deeply that, 70 years later, the scars still evoke enmity and a refusal to confront the manipulation to which they were – and are – victims.

The progress of India and Pakistan has been retarded by the enormous resources each spends on defence from the other. These are resources that could have been expended on education and health for people who still live on less than two dollars a day.

Forty-seven years later, another leader – this time from Africa – who had suffered at the hands of a minority group of exploiters, using race to subjugate a majority, observed that: “No one is born hating another person because of the colour of his skin, or his background, or his religion”. That man was Nelson Mandela, who despite his own agony in apartheid South Africa, recognised that hate is not a natural condition.

Hate, whether racial or religious, has to be taught, encouraged and engendered. And when it is taught, the process is usually for the profit of those who manipulate it, not for the benefit of those who are its targets.

Another 23 years later, yet another leader – this time from the United States – invoked Mandela’s words in response to violence resulting from a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, just days before the 70th anniversary of India’s partition into Muslim Pakistan and Hindu India.

That man was Barack Obama, the first black President of the US. Like many other right-thinking Americans, he was alarmed at the intent of a rally of white supremacists and the violence it provoked.
Under the banner of the so-called ‘alt-right’, more than 700 white supremacists invaded the city, calling for

“Unite the Right”. They were an intimidating group of militia, racists, and neo-Nazis chanting Nazi slogans; some openly carrying rifles. The hate was palpable. And, the worst of it was the untimely and unnecessary death of Heather Heyer, a young white woman mowed down by a van hurtled into a crowd by a 20-year old self-avowed white supremacist.

This racist communalism, long a feature of American history, is one that most Americans want eliminated from their reality. Those Americans found voice not only in Obama but in others, such as Speaker of the US House of Representatives, Paul Ryan, who said: “We must be clear. White supremacy is repulsive. This bigotry is counter to all this country stands for. There can be no moral ambiguity”.

Yet, as in India and Pakistan – 70 years ago – there are still those in the US who encourage and engender communal hate and hostility for political purposes. As no good came from such communalism in the past of the United States, in the partition of India, in ethnic cleansing in Rwanda and in Bosnia, or in racial conflicts in Guyana and Trinidad and Tobago, no good can come from encouraging hate such as was experienced in Charlottesville.

That is why in America – as in India and Pakistan and elsewhere, including in the Caribbean – the teaching of Mandela has to be instilled into these societies by their leaders. In making the point that no one is born hating another person because of race or religion and that people learn to hate, Mandela also observed that “if people can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.”

And that is the task of leaders in all parts of society if the world – and the states within it – are to enjoy peace and prosperity.

Race loathing and religious hatred have been created, fostered and provoked for the political and economic advantage of a few over the many. In the Caribbean – in both Guyana and Trinidad and Tobago – first the British colonialists, and then the post-colonial local politicians, promoted racial communalism for their own advantage.

Both countries struggle with that unpleasant and unproductive legacy today. It will only be overcome when all political and religious leaders preach against it and practice what they preach.

Communal divisions – in race or religion – should not be allowed to blossom and grow, for they can shatter a country however rich. Appeasing racists and religious bigots by silence or tacit approval of strife for political gain, comes at the high price of death and destruction, as history – and recent events – have shown. Great leaders should be unhesitant in speaking out fiercely against all acts of racial and religious bigotry.

(Sir Ronald Sanders is Antigua and Barbuda’s Ambassador to the United States and the OAS. He is also a Senior Fellow at the Institute of Commonwealth Studies at the University of London and Massey College in the University of Toronto)