Rowley rises

By Raffique Shah
September 07, 2015

Raffique ShahIf I had to identify a singular, dominant development from the tiresome, months-long election campaign, it would be the emergence of Keith Rowley as an orator and a leader of distinction.

Here is a man who started off the marathon campaign with all the negatives which any prime ministerial aspirant could be burdened with, but he overcame them with aplomb.

He was dubbed a racist by large numbers of people, mostly Indians and other non-Afros. But when you asked them why they so categorised him, what has he done to warrant such epithet, they mumbled and fumbled and could not adduce one shred of evidence to support their shameful, irrational stance.

Rowley is racist only because he happens to be a very black man with a coarse voice.

Trading on that stigmatisation, and on other perceptions that he was a “wajank” who is uneducated (many question his doctorate), a leader with no appeal and no vision for the country, the UNC launched an all-out attack on him.

Using cyberspace for aerial bombardment of vulgar proportions, they followed up with sustained artillery fire via radio and television, intense rifle and small arms fire, all aimed at this lone leader. State resources were harnessed, with certain enterprises and utilities providing supporting fire by way of achievements that were credited to the Prime Minister, who had long been elevated to maximum leader status.

In the end, they thought, Rowley would be dead.

Well, he didn’t die.

Instead, he rose to new heights, to levels that we have not seen in our political leaders for many years.

The Rowley we saw and heard on the campaign trail was an incarnation not even members of his party had been familiar with.

Like a man possessed, he combined proper diction with adequate knowledge of the topics he addressed, voice modulation and wit to command the attention of his audiences, most times for an hour or more.

Night after night, showing much stamina, he soldiered on, full of vigour as he shifted focus, changed topics, speaking on each one with authority.

As someone who has been there, though not necessarily done that, I can tell you it’s not easy to speak with such ease on a wide range of topics, and to hold the attention of people who would undoubtedly be tired, even bored.

Besides emerging as a fine orator, Rowley also displayed very good leadership skills. By selecting candidates and mobilising constituency leaders and activists well ahead of the election, and by not having the campaign centred around a maximum leader, he brought to the fore a phalanx of organisers and other speakers who could carry on with meetings before he arrived or in his absence.

Also, unlike the UNC in which all achievements, plans and promises are credited to or vested in the maximum leader, Rowley decentralised responsibilities, and said so. His candidates did not have to attribute God-like powers and qualities to the leader. And when they spoke on topics or issues they were charged with addressing, they did so in the name of their party, not the leader.

These nuances may seem unimportant, but when added up, they define the character of a good leader.

By the time the campaign tapered off last Friday (I write this on Saturday morning), Rowley had not only repelled the attacks mounted against him, but he had rallied his “red army” in a way it has not been for many years: red and ready, according to their battle cry.

All of what I have written must not be interpreted as my calling the election in favour of the PNM: I am no pollster or pundit, and I have been around long enough to know anything can happen in the hours before the polls close to shift the winds of change that seem, at this time, to favour the PNM.

I am simply giving credit to a man who has risen against immense odds and sustained vilification to resurrect his party from annihilation in 2010 to the powerful force it is today. And along the way, he has evolved into a leader of stature which counts for something in the wasteland of mediocrity that is Trinidad and Tobago politics.

I need add, too, that while the Rowley I see today is worthy of accolades, I do not know that he would retain that persona if he becomes Prime Minister.

Too often in the past have I seen power transform men from decent human beings into arrogant fools when hubris displaces humility and power consumes their souls.

These are the reasons why I jealously guard my fierce independence, my right to praise or criticise or condemn sawdust Caesars as I see and evaluate them.

8 Responses to “Rowley rises”


  • Doh hot uh head Shah only one ting rises in Rowley, and he doh have control over dah one.haha.

  • Don’t try to fool us Raff you have indeed endorse Rowley for PM. If I were him, in return I’d make you some kind of special adviser,

  • Mr. Shah has written an excellent, poignant article. As the dust has settled in the aftermath of PNM’s victory in last night’s general elections, it would seem that Dr. Rowley has indeed risen.

    However, for me, the ascension to prominence is far from complete. Last night’s victory represents an opportunity for Dr. Rowley to take the entire country forward. If his address to the PNM faithful at the Balisier House is anything to go by, it appears that he has signaled his intention unify the entire country and take them forward to grapple with and, I sincerely pray, prevail over the insurmountable challenges that face Trinidad and Tobago as a nation. While his speech was quite gracious and absent of any triumphalism or attempt to gloat, for me action speaks louder than words.

    Thus, I will remember this article and re-read it a year from now to see if Dr. Rowley will indeed avoid falling prey to the heady intoxication of power, status and the attendant hubris that comes with such a change in standing and status.

    As one who has studied and worked abroad, it is indeed important to be cognizant of the broader regional and international picture that affects us in T&T; we in this country can ill-afford to be distracted by the politics of division as we as a small twin-island state attempt to maintain our social economic and political stability as a country.

    So to Dr. Rowley and the PNM, I extend my congratulations. You have convinced the majority of the T&T electorate to give you a mandate to manage the affairs of state with the highest levels of integrity without fear or favour. Please do not depart from your expressed vision and take this country forward.

    May the Eternal Creator guide your mind and give you wisdom.

    Amen

  • Comrade now we would see young men not killing each other, we would see less young ladies making babies for different men, no more Calder Harts and even distribution of the country’s wealth like in the good old days of “fadder of de nation”. Maybe now I can apply and get into John Donaldson Technical Institute. Trinidad will be a land of paradise. you could be a national security advisor.

  • He was dubbed a racist by large numbers of people, mostly Indians and other non-Afros. But when you asked them why they so categorised him, what has he done to warrant such epithet, they mumbled and fumbled and could not adduce one shred of evidence to support their shameful, irrational stance.

    Rowley is racist only because he happens to be a very black man with a coarse voice.

    Trading on that stigmatisation, and on other perceptions that he was a “wajank” who is uneducated (many question his doctorate), a leader with no appeal and no vision for the country, the UNC launched an all-out attack on him.

    Using cyberspace for aerial bombardment of vulgar proportions, they followed up with sustained artillery fire via radio and television, intense rifle and small arms fire, all aimed at this lone leader. State resources were harnessed, with certain enterprises and utilities providing supporting fire by way of achievements that were credited to the Prime Minister, who had long been elevated to maximum leader status.

    Yes!!! To be a racist in the eyes of some, including the two most prominently associates reference by Shah, one just have to be black, articulate ones position strongly, uncompromisingly and fearlessly. It is this none compliance with the notion of them being superior that elicits the reaction. And it matters not the Geography, it comes from the same kind of insane complex that inundated the psyche of Adolph Hitler. In order to create physical and material manifestations of their mythical superiority they have to discriminate, marginalize and pawn all of the negative and nasty character traits that subsume their every being, unto the targets of their antipathy.

    This blog contains a history of the examples of the aerial bombardment on cyber space. Whether directly deployed or by voluntary deployment to the common cause, the cyber warriors spared no effort in their attempts to convince us that we should believe their assessment of this black man rather than our lying eyes. The cunning and artful strategy they employed had become obsolete, to some extent, because of over use and an awakening of people to the nefarious agenda being developed in this Commonwealth Region. It was no longer a competition of political ideas. It had morphed into campaign to establish the image of what a Caribbean Maximum Leader must look like, and what no leader of T&T can look like. They never bargained for the reaction from dem PNM women, and how they would fight.

    I will continue to challenge the notion that a racist is anything other than an individual with beliefs that their racial or ethnic group membership makes them superior to certain non member groups. I will continue to challenge the notion that ideological racism among any group can exist with no link to powerful and influential cultural and religious beliefs and teachings.

    People on an individual level can develop prejudices, and can at times allow those prejudices to influence how the interact with another. If in that interaction they exercise any power, whether by virtue of occupying an official position, or from an advantageous position based on size, strength, arms etc, to harm or in any way detract from the freedom and rights every citizen should expect, that would be an act of racism. But that is very different from ideological racism which will exist regardless, is institutionalized as part of group culture and attitude, and developed from a foundation of cultural and religious beliefs that some human groups are superior, and others are inferior.

  • If the people of T&T would just grow up and take a long, hard look at what their so-called politicians are doing to them, I think they will discover that collectively they are very capable of keeping their elected officials in check. Get pass the distraction of who is Black and who is White, and who is Indo-Trini and who is Afro-Trini, and focus on whether you want to allow your Civil Servants to continue to insult your intelligence. The fact that Mr. Rowley has taken the position of wanting to move T&T forward, together, then the civil-minded citizens of T&T have to grasp this opportunity to become the people you can aspire to be, by evolving as one specie. One love I heart!

    • These expressions:”Indo trini/Afro trini etc” must be removed from the conversations of the general populace.The next time a “rainbow” appears think: Infinite Wisdom (Almighty God)”fashioned” diversity.

      Ponder:Imagine all humans (approx.,seven billion) were the same pigment……Boring!!

  • Shah let us hope he goes on to be the light at the end of our tunnel of despair we faced the last five years.

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