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Cocoa, Cassava to the rescue

By Raffique Shah
October 13, 2020

Raffique ShahFor the first time in many years, food security and food production got some attention by a government in a budget presentation. This happened only because the Covid-19 crisis exposed the country’s vulnerability, its dependence on imports for almost everything we consume, especially food for basic sustenance. For decades, voices in the wilderness have cried out for the powers-that-be and consumers to understand the plight of a nation that was not producing much of its food, how it could be driven to its knees in the face of some global crisis. We didn’t think of a pandemic or plague then. We thought of war. But Covid-19 altered everything so fundamentally, we must be thankful to it as much as we are fearful of its deadly consequences.
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Periscope on Budget

By Raffique Shah
October 05 2020

Raffique ShahI am hopeful that Finance Minister Colm Imbert’s Budget 2021 will remain open to ideas that may come from ordinary citizens or professionals or anyone else even after he will have presented it to Parliament tomorrow. This is no ordinary Appropriation Bill. It is, or ought to be, an extraordinary document that contains the sum total of citizens’ prescriptions for rescuing and resuscitating an economy that has been battered and bruised by several governments over the past, say, forty years, and rendered semi-comatose by blows from the Covid-19 pandemic.
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President Trump’s Disruptive Power

By Dr Selwyn R. Cudjoe
October 05, 2020

Dr. Selwyn R. CudjoeWhen I arrived in the U.S. in 1964, the presidential contest between Lyndon Johnson (Democrat) and Barry Goldwater (Republican) was underway. They disagreed on many issues (for example, the use of the atomic bomb in warfare and U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War), but their major difference revolved around how to tackle the legal barriers that prevented African-Americans from voting in federal and state elections. This initiative was the culmination of ten years of sustained struggles by African-Americans against all forms of discrimination against them.
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An accidental MP

By Raffique Shah
September 29, 2020

Raffique ShahWhen I look back at it, my life that is, the many sharp, unpredictable turns I made that often intersected with the history of my country, I cannot help but feel fated to its destiny, inextricably linked to its history.

I ruminated on these occurrences over the past few days as the nation marked Republic Day, the 44th edition of what was a giant constitutional leap back in 1976. Interestingly, then, as this year, it was marked without the pomp and ceremony usually associated with such events. As I recall it, there was the swearing in of newly-elected members of the House of Representatives as well as senators, and maybe an address by Sir Ellis Clarke (I cannot remember), the first President of the Republic.
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A Plea for Humility & Equanimity

By Dr Selwyn R. Cudjoe
September 28, 2020

“The work of the desireless doer can rightly be expected to be better than that of one driven by desire for the fruit.”

—The Gita According to Gandhi

Dr. Selwyn R. CudjoeAt the beginning of last week, a disturbing video began to circulate on social media. It shows about a dozen school children dancing while music played in the background. These children seem to be “holding and drinking what appeared to be alcoholic beverages.” In the video, a woman is heard to be saying to another adult, “Is that what you have the children doing?” (Guardian, September 25).
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Total disrespect

By Raffique Shah
September 22, 2020

Raffique ShahI do not believe that the Commissioner of Police, Captain Gary Griffith, is a foolish man. He may be egotistic, over-sensitive, loquacious, combative. But foolish? No. I make this assessment of him purely by watching him from a distance, listening to his pronouncements on people from every strata of the society whom he perceives as being his critics.

Indeed, I write this column knowing that he will brand me a notorious mutineer, a disgrace to the uniform I once wore and blah, blah, blah. I am not as sensitive as he is, so I simply shrug off such epithets as par for this columnist’s course, a reality I have lived with for many years.
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Thinking Race/Understanding Color

By Dr Selwyn R. Cudjoe
September 21, 2020

“Nobody can be properly termed educated who knows little or nothing of the history of his own race and of his country.”

—Frederick Alexander Durham, The Lone-Star of Liberia.

Dr. Selwyn R. CudjoeIn his epoch-breaking work Capitalism and Slavery, Eric Williams noted that racism is a product of slavery. “The reason,” he says “was economic, not racial; it had to do not with the color of the labor, but the cheapness of the labor.” On the other hand, in White Over Black, Winthrop Jordan argued that racism predated slavery, citing three distinct prejudices that conditioned the English responses to Africans: our blackness, which signified filth, sin and evil; being uncivilized; and our not being Christian.
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Budget by everyone, for everyone

By Raffique Shah
September 15, 2020

Raffique ShahI imagine that every citizen who is conscious of the state of the country’s economy must wonder what magic Finance Minister Colm Imbert will weave when he presents his sixth consecutive Budget in a few weeks. The economy was already battered and bruised by plummeting oil and gas prices and struggling production levels when Covid-19 entered the picture and added to its grimness. The deadly virus savaged economies around the world, bringing many countries to their knees, leaving behind scenes that seemed to be apparitions of Armageddon.
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Opportunities lost

By Raffique Shah
September 07, 2020

Raffique ShahEarly morning Independence Day. I switch on the television, remembering that there would be no military parade this year, thanks to Covid-19, the Great Destroyer. So what is there to watch? On CNC3, I catch the last few words of the Prime Minister—rerun of an interview he’d done with Natalee Ligoure a few days ago. Then the host excitedly introduces 2020 Panorama champions, Desperadoes—their winning performance on Carnival Saturday night.
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