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Forward Ever - Backward Never
Posted: Tuesday, November 20, 2007

By Michael De Gale
November 20, 2007

It took me a while to recover from the shock of the cesspool into which local politics had fallen, and to fumigate my mind from the stench that permeated political discourse in the recently concluded general election in T&T. I will not rehash the unsightly displays and personal attacks that took precedence over numerous opportunities to articulate a vision for the country, propose feasible solutions to pressing social issues and to demonstrate enlightened leadership. However, I still can't get over the petty miscreant whose battle cry was "let ME go out in a blaze of glory", when the future of the nation was at stake, nor the acrimonious remarks used by the sore losers to conceded defeat. But all that is behind us now. The universe has unfolded as it should. While there is need for consultation and strategy, the job of running the country must continue without pause for a honeymoon. At the core, it must be born in mind that a government was elected to lead a nation, not only to serve those who lent their support when political barbarians were pounding at the gates. That's what democracy and leadership is about.

Today I see the smiling faces of the newly minted men and women who survived that assault and have now ascended to political office. Thanks to the efforts of ordinary people who believe the rhetoric and elected them to articulate their needs in the esteemed house of parliament - the palace of power. You now have the opportunity to demonstrate that the confidence placed in you was not misplaced. I see a rejuvenated government with a five-year mandate and ample opportunity to do right and to do more. I believe we have long passed the stage where politicians would show up once every five years with a bag full of promises they never intended to keep. The sound defeat of the opposing parties is indicative of this reality - a lesson the new office holders would be well advised to learn.

Without coercion and on your own volition, you have agreed to place yourselves at the service of the people and they've given you their support. Consequently, they expect nothing less than your full commitment and devotion to duty. This is not about you but you will do well to remember where you came from and how you got to where you are today. For those who may have forgotten, allow me to remind you.

You are the sons and daughters of the neighbour next door, the same boys and girls who grew up in mixed communities across the country. You are not representatives of an imperialist power bent on sucking the nation's resources and its people of their right to life itself. When I see you, I understand why people throughout the Caribbean vigorously struggled against imperialism. I see Dr. Eric E. Williams, Makandal Daaga, Dr. Cheddi Jagan, Marcus Garvey and Walter Rodney, just a handful of Anglophone intellectuals among others, who believed that Caribbean people are capable and sufficiently competent to govern themselves. I am reminded of the reason why families of African and Indian descent, slaved in cane fields and performed menial task across the land. Today, I see the fruits of their labour. In essence, you are the sons and daughters of heroes yet unsung, whose individual names would never be recorded in the annals of West Indian history.

Their struggles and sacrifices have culminated in your arrival in the corridors of power; you must now do your part to take the nation forward. Do not allow yourselves to be consumed by the dizzying heights of political office, and lose sight of the fact that you are there to represent the people in the nation's interest. The fact that you are now among the political class does not exonerate you from your responsibility as an elected representative of the people. Like George - the protagonist from Earl Lovelace's penetrating novel "Salt", you carry the hopes and dreams of your respective constituencies squarely on your shoulders. Fulfill those needs and when it all comes together; the whole will indeed be greater than the sum of its parts. If you came in with an ego, cast it aside. If your ambition is to enrich yourself, may the vengeance of Moco fall on you, for you will be desecrating the memory of all those who paid with blood, sweat and tears to paved the way for you.

As daunting a task as it is, you have a moral responsibility to leave this nation better than you found it. I am confident that you could rise to this challenge, if you remain mindful of your history and cognisant of the kind of nation we want to build in the Caribbean. Greed and self-aggrandizement will not suckle at you breast, if you promise yourselves to give more than you could possibly get.

Commit yourselves to build a better nation. You must do this to commemorate those who fought to free us from the chains of slavery and the oppression of colonialism. Dedicate yourselves to duty, so that Trinbagonians can enjoy the beauty and bounty of the land we affectionately call sweet T&T, and like generations before you, pave the way for those who must follow. In the eternal words of the Grenada revolution and its inspired leader, Brother Maurice Bishop, Forward Ever - Backward Never.

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