By Raffique Shah
October 26, 2013
Type the name “Kamla” on the Google search engine and see what comes up. That “Kamla”, a very common Hindu name, instantly yields Trinidad and Tobago’s Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar, suggests that she is the number one “Kamla” in the world—something we should all be proud of.
But the second word that follows the name is so disgraceful, I shall not even mention it here—not for fear of being sued for defamation (since it is fact), but because as a Trini-to-the-bone, I feel ashamed.
Now, I know the PM is not responsible for much of what is posted on the Internet about her. During the recent local government elections campaign, I heard her tell her supporters if they were dissatisfied with the performances of their councillors or parliamentarians, they should let her know via e-mail, Facebook, or other social media.
I assume, therefore, that she actively participates in postings and exchanges on the many social media sites that exist, which I hardly ever visit. These instruments and interactions, however, allow ordinary people to upload videos of their own, to manipulate and alter images and actions, and to comment on each other or on public figures.
The latest posting on the PM is a news clip from CNC3 Television, which I happened to view live last Tuesday night. The night before, elections night, when accurate results were hard to come by (which is another sad story), I was trying to follow developments via the three main television stations.
When, around 10 p.m, all stations cut their panel discussions and futile attempts to bring up-to-date numbers, and switched to a location in Siparia where the PM was addressing the UNC faithful, my jaw dropped.
I could hardly decipher the incoherent babbling coming from Kamla’s mouth. In the face of what appeared at the time to be a routing at the polls, she attempted to put a positive spin, but succeeded only in making a fool of herself.
At the time, in frustration, I switched off the television; but worse was to follow before the night was over. I didn’t think that in that state and at that hour the PM would journey to the Rienzi complex. After all, what good news was there to share? In any event, I thought she should be heading for one place—her bed.
Only the following night I would learn that she actually went to Rienzi, and in the stupor of defeat, she bellowed like a cow about to be slaughtered, croaking something incoherent. Again, I tried to figure out what she was doing. I was told she tried to sing melody lines from a song titled “This place called home”. I listened to the original on YouTube, and, well, I think Kamla and her chorus group should sing in private, behind firmly locked, soundproof doors.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I heard the lady say if she had to choose a career in her next life, it would be a crooner. I can empathise with her. In my college days, I fancied myself a calypsonian. I even had a sobriquet, Lord Carlti, which some boyhood friends use to this day. I knew the lyrics and melodies of most calypsoes, especially the bawdy ones!
But I could not sing. So, except for carrying on out of time and out of tune when we were having fun, or bellowing to my heart’s delight as I shower (even now), I never inflicted my non-talent on the public. A man must know his limits.
Joke aside, what is Kamla’s real story? She said she was aware of the video posted and the vile comments that accompanied it (I have not read them). She added that she had grown accustomed to the vilification, and she expected worse to come.
I shudder to think that she plans to take us deeper into the gutter. Because, except for one such video I have seen that appears to have been “doctored”, the others—and there are several—are authentic clips of the PM “performing”. They tell a sad story of a woman who, three years ago, fired the imagination of the public, only to let us down badly, to take us beneath the limbo bar.
What is worse is that the men around her seem incapable or unwilling to reach out to her, to lend a helping hand, to extricate her from hurtling down the highway to Hell. Make no mistake about it, the results of last Monday’s elections spell doom for the UNC and the Partnership.
With a record-high turnout of 43.5 per cent of the electorate, the ruling party mustered a mere 27 per cent of the votes cast, with the PNM surging ahead with 42 per cent, the ILP managing 22 per cent, and COP trailing with 7.0 per cent.
The coalition effectively controls only three of 14 corporations, and is virtually dead in the vital East-West corridor.
In the face of this electoral avalanche, the PM croaks and her supporters sway. A sign of the times?