Wednesday, August 20, 2014

You can't be against something you are for

IN KEEPING with Senator Nazim Burke's muddled thinking, he now opposes, what he always wanted.

  Burke says he supports the idea of Grenada joining the Caribbean Court of Justice; and he also supports the setting up of an electoral commission.

  Being a man from Carriacou and Petite Martinique, one would also assume that he also wants those islands’ names to be on the passport.
   But Burke is advocating that people vote no in next year's referendum.
   But a no vote means to reject the idea of going to the CCJ; and promotes sticking with a one-man supervisor of election; and denies Carriacou and Petite Martinique having their names on the passport.

  Burke's argument is to vote no because the commission did not go far enough, and so next year's effort is a waste of time and money.
  But Burke's position won't save any money and won't save any time anyhow. Because it is going ahead in spite of his protestations.

   A clearer, smarter mind than Burke’s would have then said,  let's try to make it  less of a waste of time and money by voting on at least 12 items that make sense -- even though ideally you would have loved to have seen others.

 I could have followed Burke "no vote" position, if he had a fundamental and philosophic problem with any one idea on the ballot.

  Like Burke, I personally think that some of the measures have not gone far enough.

  I am one of the supporters of the idea for a fixed date for general elections.

  We may even want to consider some form of proportional representation.

  By the way -- I am opposed to term limits, though. I find that they are inherently anti-democratic. You cannot tell me I have the right to vote for who I want, and at the same time tell me I cannot vote for "John Doe" because I did so twice before.

  And as a practical matter anyhow – in small countries like ours, where the human resource is very limited – what is the developmental concept of disposing a good leader just because he has served two terms; and trade him/her for someone of lesser ability – just for the sake of it?

  And don't we have enough faith in the people's ability to think and choose? And faith, too, that in the process of election campaigning they can demand that politicians make a case on why a leader or leaders should not be returned – whether after one term or two or three?
  But beyond that, I agree with Naz on a few things -- such as fixed date for elections cet cet.

   But that is where I part with him. And that is where I side with his former leader Tillman Thomas.

  Not because you do not get all you want, you don't vote for some of the things you want.

  This Nazim Burke all or nothing strategy defies logic -- well on the face of it.

  But as politically un-astute as he may be most times, there is a method to Naz's madness.

  Nazim has become the leader of “no’’: No to anything that promises to inch the society forward.

  He says “no’’ to the structural adjustment programme – though as a cabinet minister he advocated those measures and even more (refer to cabinet papers); yet he does not have plausible solutions to the challenges we face.

  He basically says he would not support any moves to restructure the economy because the people, whom he claims caused the problem, want to fix it.

  Following the Nazim logic?

Let's assume you made a mess; don't try to clean it up even if people voted you to at least attempt it?

  Oh! The other point he makes – that this government is illegitimate, anyhow – so we cannot deal with it?

  Illegitimate? Is that the word? Serious? A government that won all the seats less than two years ago in a general election that was conducted under your control?

  But here is Naz's method to his madness; let everything go down the tube, in the hope that he can inherit the ashes.

  He did that to his own party – and now he is trying it on Grenada.

PS: Relevant link - Tillman Thomas speaks 

Monday, August 11, 2014

The night calypso won!

IT SADDENS me that so many people in Grenadian life see things only through the prism of politics.
  It is one thing to have a position, and to even have favorites: it's another thing to make an infantile jump using the weirdest of conspirational theories embed in a political sauce.
   It is also one thing not to agree with the judging of a simple calypso contest; but it is a jump to suggest motive -- such as outright dishonesty or something as political influence.
   When Scholar sung last night that -- words to the effect -- NNP brought back Ajamu to win; I took no offence. I saw it, and assumed it was just carnival picong.
   That the likes of Randy Isaac now believe that -- from his comment to me on jouvert morning --  is really sad; and perhaps explains his gullibility that has stopped him from reaching his full potential as a calypsonian.
  For Kem Jones to say as much on social network is neither sad nor surprising however. The twisted logic just confirms the lightweight status of a political commentator wanna-be who does not have the personal maturity, nor intellectual grounding or yearning; nor for that matter that analytic honesty to be what he is seeking to be -- a social and political commentator worth his salt.
   His positions are fine, and he has a right to them. But it is almost fraudulent to try to systematically make a living from the miseducation of Grenada.
   Commentators must be allowed to come to any conclusion they want to, but that must be based on some undisputed fact; not some fairy tale or made-up story.
  As per the calypso, it is OK to have a horse in the race. And it is also OK to be naturally disappointed if your horse did not pull it off.
  But if we are to be fair to "our horse", we have to dispassionately dissect the competition, and if that person would listen, help them assess the success and failure, so as to use it as a learning experience to -- as the ground will say -- reel and come again.
   As much as I am glad that Ajamu won, I take no pleasure in the fact that Scholar or for that matter anyone else lost.
  Both are not just great calypsonians -- and their multiple crowns are testimony to that fact -- but great people, who thankfully my impression of them as people came long before I saw them on a calypso stage.
  Before I knew Edson as Ajamu; I knew him as Ms Lyris' son, an aspiring musician who practiced with a band four buildings from my house in Munich; and a cricketer who tried but failed to help Mama Canne beat Munich at cricket (he knew I had to take that friendly dig, lol).
  I knew Scholar when he was just Finley.  I had no inkling that he would become a calypsonian, because as a high school student, he was so quiet, when I first met him as one of the best friends of one of my best friend.
  And so for through all these years, I have taken personal pride in their successes -- both as calypsonians and persons.
   But it bothers me that we as a people have a penchant to want to bring down one man, so that they can "big up" another; as if we are so deficient and poor that we cannot have more than one hero at a time.
  And even heroes have bad nights.
  Scholar had a relatively bad one last night; and the best man on the night won.
   That fact does take away neither from Scholar's talent nor contribution to local calypso. Last night was only just as it was -- another night of a contest -- where not for the first time -- he did not win.
   Great for him and his family, for every failing as the one last night, he has seven solid nights to savour -- more than any Grenadian on this planet save Ajamu.
   Those so-called fans, such as the likes of Kem Jones, do a disservice to Scholar's contribution and worth to impute some political conspiracy; as if in the history of men such had stopped great contributors anyway.
  Not only that such comments are inherently disingenuous; it has no basis in anything except societal mischief.
  That doesn't mean that the judges do not have some explaining to do -- as  for example, how Rootsman Kelly was left out of that final spot, or how Superstar came 10th last night, after in many experienced views, including mine, she gave a top three, if not a top two performance.
  But I suspect that had as much to do with the experience -- or lack of it  -- of some of the judges; and maybe in some cases technical know-how.
  We cannot assign sinister motives. To cast such aspersions is to question people's character -- something we are too quick to do in this society.
  Scholar's legacy has already been confirmed-- not just in his many victories -- but in songs such as Voices and Heroes that will stand the test of calypso times.
  Neither his nor Ajamu's depended on a win last night.
  Anything they do now will be perhaps for bragging rights.
   If Scholar desires to return to competition, he can still win again. For the heck of it -- in what was not even one of his best nights -- he placed second to perhaps the greatest Grenadian calypsonian of all time.
  As a general comment,; while Sunday's Dimanche Gras was not technically one of the greatest nights of Grenadian calypso;  it was certainly perhaps the most competitive of the last 10 years or so.
    And, far removed from the battles of last night; when all the passion has died down; and reasonable men will be able to reason again -- I will have a talk with Ms Lyris' son, and with Finley.
   I know we will all agree eventually -- nobody lost last night. Calypso won!

Friday, August 8, 2014

Guide to Grenada Calypso Monarch 2014
Worn melodies and concepts make fight tight

PREDICTING a likely calypso monarch winner has become an even bigger lottery with the quality of judging this season that has had many scratching their heads.

With half of the nine maybe among those counted as lucky as being there -- it may, in the end, come down to a fight of the traditionalist and the two most crowned men -- Ajamu and Scholar -- with defending monarch Ketura a slightly lesser-known quality, having no need to go through the qualifying stages as the reigning champ.

  Given their material and the expected performance of the artistes, and if the calypsonians are true to form, then Superstar could be a dark horse.
But the biggest challenge may come from current independent monarch Sour Serpent, the unofficial king of double entendre.
But he, like Wizard, already has a history of performance flops on the big night.
If he can hold his nerve, and his notes, the man born Sean Niles could have the biggest night of his calypso career.

Wizard has won the crown before. He was one of the lucky ones to have made it through, following a semifinal where the judges appeared to be generous to the elders and the long-standing performers.

His going Nowhere Fast, is  a cliche-riddled hodge-podge of two-line social statements that, by his own standards, are lyrically ordinary.
NNPism is much closer to vintage lyrical Wizard, except that his melodies are so worn and so predictable that they put him at a disadvantage.

Scholar is vulnerable because questions remain about AsphaltThe song's originality in concept and development is a big red flag, given what Dominica's Hunter did with the theme back in 2012.
Promise Land is a greater concept and a witty song; and Scholar's use of the traditional religious melodies in the bridges adds to the song's potency and relevance. It is one of those cases where a used melody is utilized in an original way for thematic and dramatic effect.
Even without the issue of plagiarism with Asphalt, by itself -- it is not the greatest developed of Scholar's concepts. In the semis it also felt rushed.
Then as a two-song competition package, Asphalt in the broader sense of thematic concepts, has too much of a sameness with the stronger more potent first song.
Scholar's biggest bet is maybe to find a second song -- and he is sure to be in the money.

   Scholar -- on form and material -- is likely to be stronger than Ajamu in the first round; but the tables seemingly could be turned  in the second.

  Ajamu's endearing strength is his ability to deliver any material he has. Hands down he is best on the list for Dimanche Gras.

  And one gets the feeling he is about to introduce a new song in the final, with the recent showcase of Tune in They Rukung Ku Tun Tun.

The gauntlet has been thrown down. Scholar needs a bolder move to get his eighth.

   Conceptually, Mr X has perhaps the best two-song package, along with Sour Serpent. But, again, as has become his custom, Mr X's words sometimes get in the way; and his delivery suffers.

   It will be difficult for Randy Isaac to win for the same reason as Wizard. His songs are made up of overused statements with no poignant fresh philosophical pitch, nor declarative insights.

  They may be good enough to make a list of nine, but not to take the performer to the top.

  The problem with songs such as Randy's The World Needs a Makeover and Wizard's We Going Nowhere Fast, is that two years from now, you would not remember them -- as we do remember, let's say, Randy's Roots of Calypso or Wizard's IMF or Tell Stone.

  Sheldon Douglas and Janice are extremely lucky to have made it to the monarch final.

  Sheldon doesn't have the problems Janice has -- her pitch and melodies. Lyrically, Janice's first song is interesting and relevant to the times; her second is a melodical nightmare that is all over the place.

  Big J comes with a traditional but solid approach, with two useful commentaries -- but good enough of a mid-level placing.

   If nobody misses their lines, do not let nerves have the better of them, and sing the material that we expect -- and if the judges do not have an off night -- these top four could be in the mix -- (in alphabetical order) - Ajamu, Scholar, Sour Serpent, Superstar

   Ketura is a little unknown heading in to Dimanche Gras night at the National Stadium. But with useful material, given the singer she is, Ketura will also have to be considered a factor.