Does She or Doesn’t She?

By Dr. Selwyn R. Cudjoe
May 25, 2011

Dr. Selwyn R. CudjoeAlmost invariably, nations, parties and individuals possess different narratives of themselves some of which they present to the world; others that they keep quietly to protect themselves from the world and others. Some of these narratives are wrapped in perfumed sweetness while others are left to petrify, hidden from the public gaze, until their stink pollutes the nation and the self.

Take the case of Dominique Strauss-Kahn (DSK), the head of the IMF, who found himself in trouble last week. By all accounts he is an unflappable diplomat, brilliant economist and astute politician who had every chance to become France’s next president. But then there is the other side of the man. He could not see a skirt and who, it seems, is incapable of keeping his precious parts within his pants.

Everyone around him knew his failings. Living in a society where male privilege is taken for granted and open expressions of sexuality are seen to reflect healthy egos it is easy to see how sexual indiscretions are encouraged, excused and even applauded. Even his third wife, Anna Sinclair, accepted these indiscretions as part of her husband’s essential maleness.

And then the bombshell struck. He seems to have taken liberties where he shouldn’t have and in a place (Protestant America) where such indiscretions take on criminal dimensions and where, given the society’s egalitarianism, no man is above the law. So that what seemed to be gallant and manly in one culture became criminal and boorish in another country for which DSK may pay an enormous price and which has brought much embarrassment to himself, his family and his nation.

Although his friends knew he had a problem few were willing to acknowledge and/or talk about it publicly. In France, it seems the private is precisely that: private and personal. What happens behind closed doors is expected to stay there although it always has the possibility of blowing up in one’s face thereby bringing shame and scandal to the family and the nation.

This brings me to a similar phenomenon-an unspoken narrative– that is being played out quietly in our country behind closed doors among a few friends and which, even our national newspapers, is unwilling to talk about openly and/or examine its implications for national development and our international self-image.

On Tuesday the People’s Partnership (PP) celebrated its first anniversary in office. Seeing her approval rating drop from 68 percent to 54 within a year in office, the PM acknowledged having made mistakes and promised “Better days are coming…We have learnt and continue to learn from positive and negative, and even as we strive with you to find the most effective path to good governance.” Dr. Roodal Moonilal, in ventriloquist fashion, quipped: “We have learned from our mistakes, we commit that these mistakes will be fewer and that we will eradicate all.”

However, the PM and her colleagues did not tell us what is the source of these mistakes; how they intend to eradicate them; and what accounts for such lack of efficiency? For example, how does a Prime Minister fail to read a memo that her Minister of Planning sent to her five months previously? And how does a prime minister tell a nation that many things come across her desk that she is unable to read and respond to?

How does she determine what is important to the nation and how does she miss a regional meeting of Prime Ministers as she stays home to prepare for her party’s fete? Is this one of the memos that came over her desk that she was unable to read?

One wonders why the nation did not rise up in righteous indignation over the fact that the PM took five months to acknowledge receipt of a memo or did not even have the decency tell the nation why a party fete is more important than attending to national business.

Since so many matters of state come across the PM’s desk daily and, as she confesses, she does not have sufficient time to read them all, one wonders how many important matters of state are left in abeyance and what impact such dereliction of duty has on the nation? More importantly, does the PM’s purported “drinking problem” affect her ability to carry out the nation’s business?

During the UNC’s internal election Basdeo Panday accused our PM of having a drinking problem. He stated: “I know she has a problem; you know she has a problem; everyone knows she has a problem. She has a weakness that can be exploited.”

On January 12, 2010, a Newsday headline read: “I do not Have a Drinking Problem!” The article continued: “With these words Siparia Kamla Persad-Bissessar yesterday dismissed speculation about her drinking habits which surfaced when Political Leader Basdeo Panday claimed she had a serious problem which made her unfit to lead the UNC.”

According to Panday and Ramesh Maharaj, “the rumor” of Kamla’s drinking problem was started by Jack Warner who claimed that her behavior in India was unbecoming. When questioned by Newsday, Warner retorted: “I made a foolish remark in Rio Claro on the campaign trail and that’s political banter. I was not in India with her….and therefore I cannot say anything about her…”

“(Vasant) Bharat, (Roodal) Moonilal and (Wade) Mark should have known better and told Panday, ‘Don’t go that way chief’ but instead they joined him and feel that by bad-talking Kamla that made them feel macho.”

Questions about Kamla’s “drinking problem” persist as an underground narrative of the nation. There are those who believe that her “drinking problem” prevents her from carrying out her duty in an efficient manner? Forty percent of persons sampled in the MFO poll were “somewhat dissatisfied or not at all satisfied” with the management of her Cabinet while 22 per cent remained neutral. Only 34 percent of the respondents assessed her ability favorably.

Does the nation have a right to know if its Prime Minister has a drinking problem and, if so, does it prevent her from carrying out her duties promptly and efficiently? Her colleagues may wish to keep this information under wraps but can the nation afford such a luxury. Better days cannot come if our leader is either sick or in denial of her condition?

Such national blindness can lead to disastrous consequences. Strauss-Kahn and the French people learned this to their regret.

It can happen here.

20 thoughts on “Does She or Doesn’t She?”

  1. If the PM has a drinking problem and the author is correct, just about everyone is “whislering” about it, then those close to her should encourage her to seek help and failing that, they have a responsibility to the nation to expose her, with the goal of replacing her.
    This is a very brave article, but it had to be written.

  2. PNM don’t like Panday and they used to say he is not credible. Now that he is running his mouth on those who kicked him from power, these PNM losers find he is credible now. Anything bad he says about Kamla is now the truth. All sore losers weeping together.

    1. Yes one love, and UNC/PP loved Uncle Jack Warner dearly, and we know suddenly why? Watch however, as they drop him like a bag of hot tires, and rims they stole from the bamboo- simply because the FIFA heat is on.
      What a despicable bunch of immoral , political degenerates, these folks and their fans are , hmmmm? They would fleece , god, Krishna, and Mohammed , if they observe all three walking down the middle of the road naked at night, but always quick to point fingers at all the social foibles of others – especially when dey belong to ‘kinky head, big butt nation,’eh one luv?

  3. What backwardness is this coming from a self proclaimed “Professor?”
    Panday most surely would know what drinking can do to someone who cannot hold his liquor.

    I suppose that is why he forgot where he came from when he was “liquoring it” up with the likes of Trump, playing golf with the………and promising to build hotel in Brechin castle, all the while the poor people in the cane industry hoping that he would remember how he climbed on their backs to get where he was and in the end, because his head was no doubt “bad” with all the various types of “liquer” that he was consuming, he fell, just like “hunpty dumpty”.

    Another thing, Mr. Professor, the world is made up of all types of people and as they say, “one day for master and one day for thief”, it is just a bit difficult to recognize who is who these days.

    So if I were you, I would reflect on that and stop trying to create confusion.


  4. Slander and slanderous statements are endemic of politics in T&T. Panday claim Kamla had a drinking problem, as he sought to slander her character to win an election. He coin the word “Duck an run” for Dookeran. He called Ramesh “Judas”, Hulsie “a cutnie”.

    The fact that some PNMites are placing credibility to Panday’s outlandish claims is not surprising. A man who has been in jail and was charge with corruption held high in bossom of PNM thinking. It is no wonder Manning is able to come back and lead the PNM starting with his walk. During his time the nation experienced ravaging criminality that saw over 500 murders with a solve ratio of an abysmal 25%, yet he is still able to draw upon his supporters the strength to confront the PP. Manning always needed Bas. When Bas was in power he gave the government to Manning (lol). Bas entered into secret deals with Manning without even consulting his party.

    To her credit Kamla is no Bas. She can negotiate and work with people. The fact that there is a functioning coalition is a testament to her’s and Dookeran’s character. I am sure that Bas eyes turn green with envy everytime he sees her on television.

    On the contrary she has not gone around blasting Bas or making statements about him. Instead she has honored his contribution to the nation. She has even called him her guru (a title underserving). That however is definitely the qualities of a true leader. A person who understands that slander, name calling and petty inferences do not have a place in the political arena. Especially for a new generation of Trinis.

    Bas and Manning belong to the old generation–arrogant, slanderous and self seeking.

    Finally, cheers to the Queen Kamla, keep up the good work.

  5. Mamoo, if what is being said is not true, why be overly bothered?

    Are there not laws in T&T against slander and libel? And can the courts not show, with pertinent costs, who between the two has credibility and who does not and must therefore pay in both avoirdupois and in poise?

    If it is true, then Dr. Cudjoe, regardless of what one might think his intentions are, has done the nation a service.

    If the PM has a drinking problem, that does not diminish her status and stature; in fact, showing her to have frailties ought to make others more empathetic and hopefully also make her more sensitive to others who might, like all of us, have weaknesses which can destroy us as individuals, and even more, destroy others whose futures might rely on us.

    In fact, her difficulties might serve to underline the fact that the nation has a serious drinking problem.

    It is a shame tghat everytime one sees officials and artistes and the like at a public function they all have a glass in hand as if these glasses are the very water of life.

    The problem of alcoholism, and with serious consequences, for example a condition–Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD)–that affects unborn children in the womb and pursues them with a vengeance throughout the rest of their lives. Lives that are so broken more than 40% of people in prison across this hemisphere are victims of FASD.

    Maybe, Parliament should have an Alcoholism Anonymous section for parliementarians since so many of them can only be excused for the way they misbehave and what they mis-speak as being under the influence.

    1. Perhaps in the past but I have not seen any signs of diminished responsibility on her part today. In fact her speech on the 1st anniversary was incredibly intelligent, clear in vision and purpose. She has argurably the most brilliant mind in the political spectrum today. Never a minute of boring rhetoric. As Prime Minister she takes her responsibility to this nation seriously. However, in politics there will always be detractors who desire to frame her narrative in a negative way. That is the unfortunate part of politics that refuses to embrace the whole person but only sees a particular side that enhances their arguments. As is evident by this article.

      There was a time when it was said that Panday is an alcoholic and the people surrounding him was afraid of his moments of arrogant explicitives, something that former President Robinson could attest to…

      There was a time when other would say that Manning had moments of delusional grandeur claiming to be “father of the nation”. Telling the world that T&T have no criminals but community leaders (lol).

      The point is that we are multi-dimensional creatures, it all depends on the angle a person takes when trying to slander, undermine, or detract from the positive attributes that we all possess. I am an optimist so my view on the PM would be diffrent from the pessimist who could see no emergent good in her conduct in performing her duties.

      The true test of any Prime Minister is his/her ability to rise above the unnecessary inquiry and instead move on to do the will of the people. Ultimately they will be the final judge at election time…good or bad.. hmmm

  6. Even if that’s true, so what? The ‘Tea Party’ PNM used to say the same damn thing about PM Panday. Now Panday is a great sage in PNM eyes just because Kamla took the mantle from him and his attempt at a dynasty. The great Churchill functioned on at least 15 drinks a day even during WWII. The man had several drinks with his breakfast! Good try Selwyn, are you going to join Patos on his march from POS to Sdo in the style of Guyana’s PNC? Yeah, let’s start some ruction to destabilize the country. I predict race charged riots within a year in TT – led by Patos & Selwyn’s NEAP. Even an attempted coup. Look for same in Guyana.

  7. Ranjit, is there something you know, others don’t? It is obvious there is also much you also don’t know as you so easily and glibly announce the possibilities, in fact, your expectations soon about a coup in T&T, and in Guyana.

    Before you engage in such dangerous talk, there are historic facts you should consider.

    Have you ever heard of a place in Grenada called “Sautez”? Or the Negro Spiritual titled, “O Freedom, O Freedom”, Or the Battle of Islandlwana?

    Islandlwana was the first major battle the British lost since the beginning under Elizabeth I of the British Empire.

    This battle occurred between British fighting regulars or “Tommies” and the Zulu Nation in South Africa. The British fought, using the then very modern recoiling rifles while the Zulus, barefoot, fought with assegais or spears.

    The resulting massacre of the British by the Zulus threw the whole Empire into a tailspin. A decade later, historians mark as the beginning of the decline of the Empire, resulting a half century later in the Independence of India. During the British Empire, three of every five colonized persons were Indians; thus did Victoria title herself: Empress of India.

    The song, “O Freedom”, came from an experience had by Frederick Douglas (you would not know of him and I am no longer in the education business) who had heard of an encounter between the Haitian liberation fighter Dessalines, and the French General Le Clerc.

    The general, having forced Dessalines’ back against the sea off Cap Haitien, sent him an ultimatum to “surrender” or Le Clerc would burn the town to the ground.

    Desalines took a flambeau (I presume you know what this is), set a building on fire, and then told the messenger, “go, tell him (Le Clerc), before we surrender to a new slavery, we will blow like ashes in the wind.”

    The Grenadian village of “Sautez” comes from the French verb, “sauter”, to leap. Enslaved men, women and children,

    forced again by the French against a cliff, rather than surrender, this time leaped to their deaths.

    There are many other such reports of the redoutable spirit of Black people, and your expectations of a coup, or civil war in T&T appears to be something you think is going to be easy; something like a carnival, here today gone tomorrow.

    Such a situation will change, for the worse, the dynamics between the races, not only in T&T but worldwide, in fact even worse than occurred in Fiji.

    What you might not also know is that during World War I, Indians from the Caribbean, unlike Black people fought, especially those from Barbados.

    Later in WWII, in T&T, not only did Black men serve, unlike Indians, but when the Black Trini soldiers returned on troopships, unlike their white T&T counterparts, they were not allowed to disembark with their guns. They also didn’t get a pension, either, a factor which led to a movement called, “AGAINST FASCISM AT HOME AND ABROAD”, and the beginning of the Independence movement and the Suffragette movement for the vote in T&T.

    In fact, this movement also formed in Ghana by returning soldiers was the beginning of their Independence under Kwame Nkrumah.

    To return to your expectations of a coup in T&T initiated by people like Cudjoe, nobody who has gone to war against Black people have forgotten it. I am sure you could also say the same about Indians.

    However, your easy infusion into a civil discussion of coup and the like are not merely to be taken or given as mere “ole talk”. Is it the treatment now being experienced in T&T and Guyana by Black people that prompts your expectations? Is it that you so despise Black people you think them only capable of violence?

    As I said, is there something to which you are privy? Is this the reasoning behind the UNC’s idea for an airport in Central, to allow troops from Mumbai, easier access into T&T?

    Again, less than a decade after Islandlwana, at the beginning of the 20th Century historians today mark as the beginning of the decline of the great and invincible Lion called, the British Empire.

    Shalom my friend, shalom!

  8. Did the writer’s opening statements actually lead to his subsequent statements?? I think yes. His sexism shows and he should have something done about it. Writing opposing views is understandable but what is written here is not an opposing view it is . . . . . well I really don’t know what it is.

  9. In Guyana the PPP racist regime arrested a member of the Nation of Islam who had gone to Guyana to talk to youths about crime and drugs. They lied and said that the CIA had the man on a wanted terrorist. Ironically the only questions they asked him was whether he had made contact with any opposition political member in Guyana.

    Guess what? Yes he was black. The US denied having any contact with the PPP with regard to this issue, and the man is a citizen of the US and an advisor of Louis Farrakhan.

    The PPP did not arrest Roger Khan, the Klu Klux Klan like leader of a vigilante gang responsible for the lynching of hundreds of young black men. They did not arrest him or investigate the assassination of black activist and journalist Ronald Waddell.

    The PPP in Guyana is the most racist regime to hold power in these parts since emancipation. In fact they are guilt of the same kind of human rights violation that sent the former Peruvian President, Albeto Fujumori to prison.

    Black people in this commonwealth caribbean continue to ignore the inherent racist attitudes and behaviours that have now become negative mores in the societies of Guyana and T&T. We continue to walk a line a political correctness that allows many to make wild and ignorant claims in order to silence any examination of history, and make logical connections between racial and prejudice behaviour, and historical cultural practices that have been imported to these places. As long as we continue to allow these idiots to point fingers without reminding them that the cancerous growth has greater infestation in their psyches than it has in any other Group in T&T and Guyana, the debate will continue to be akin to David Duke pointing at African Americans and calling them racist.

    I reiterate here with no fear of logical contradiction that racist and prejudiced attitudes and practices are products of religious and cultural belief systems that people are superior or inferior because of their appearance. It’s durable retention as the foundational filter for opinions and views in its host is a product of its long establishment in religious interpretations and cultural mores passed down from generation to generation.

    You do not walk up a mountain to find the source of polution in river. You proceed from the mouth of that river, the aperture through which polluted liquid emits, and trace it back to the source where the polution began. That is the investigative course of any inquiry genuinely seeking facts and accuracy.

    1. “Guess what? Yes he was black. The US denied having any contact with the PPP with regard to this issue, and the man is a citizen of the US and an advisor of Louis Farrakhan.”

      This man should not have set foot in Guyana. His only mission would be to spread black poison aka hate in the mind of young black men. He uses the usual trick, that is to come in under the pretext of wanting to help these youths, gain their trust and then impute “naked hatred” into their hearts by telling them how bad the world is for black people.

      Farrakhan and his racist gang can and should keep their poison in the U.S. My understanding is that Mr. Khan is being funded by some Islamic nation to spread the poison.

      The exploitation of poor black young men was done by Comrade Burnham and the PNC. They used to lay the Guyanese flag on the coffins of gang members who were shot by the police. It is a very sad chapter in Guyana’s history that is now closed and should remain closed. After all the Americans in Guyana who came in prior to the PPP in power were house of Israel leader, Jim Jones and other psychologically deformed types. Some of them were protected by the Burnham regime.

    1. “They had a plan to combine their efforts to influence the Indianization of this hemisphere. That plan is till in operation.”

      There is nothing wrong in Indianization, in fact I support it and would even fund it if Mr. Williams could be so kind as to provide contact information.

      This being Indian arrival month, it is a good time to rekindle the ties that bind. Besides most Indians are drinking to much rum and wasting their life away to grasp the Indianization concept, hence my reason for wanting to support such a thing. I think Mr. Williams our first strategy would be to one (1) Discourage Indian males from going to bars and drinking. (2) To stay home and have more children, (3) To do what they do best, start businesses. (4) To teach their children the values of our ancestors.

      I think those are good starting points towards the hemispheric Indianization that you mention. Of course Indianization would be good for our African brothers and sisters also. Indians are firm believers in working with others. As is evident in India, a nation with the fourth largest global economy. Maybe Mr. Williams we could even ecourage India businesses to invest in sweet T&T and Guyana. They have made huge investments in South Africa and 14 other African nations. Guyana and T&T have a lot of land that could be turned into business parks.

      Good ideas you have there Mr. Williams I think I like you.

  10. Keith:

    I reiterate here with no fear of logical contradiction that racist and prejudiced attitudes and practices are products of religious and cultural belief systems that people are superior or inferior because of their appearance.

    You playing brave boi!

    Recent statistics reveal that one in every four persons is Muslim. I am assuming that based on your sweeping statement above, you have considered Islam as well.

    Please point out where in the Islamic belief system you find racism etc.

    You need to learn from all those intellects whose were shattered and exposed by Edward Said’s ground breaking works on Orientalism etc. Your unauthorised, unqualified approach to culture and religion has already been trashed, irrefutably. You and your friends can no longer sit there and espouse on the worlds’ religious belief systems and cultures without having thoroughly studied it.


    1. Umar, you haven’t studied Islam, or choose some areas to avoid.

      Islam, like Hinduism, Christianity and others engaged in the enslavement of Africans. Christianity, unlike the others not only found slavery to be offensive, but also opposed it in their Parliaments and laws.

      They also apologised for it, not as they should with reparations, but at least they acknowledged it as inimical to humanity in general and to Africa in particular.

      I will not comment here on Hinduism’s castocracy, determining virtue and vice according to skin colour.

      Islam, however, has never acknowledged slavery as evil, but as a system to which to accommodate one’s economy etc. True slaves in the Ottoman empire rose to rulers but that is because they were used as soldiers in the Janissary and became the military power there.

      Even today, travelling as a Black person in Saudia Arabia and other corrupt autocracies one is frequently referred to by pejerotive term, “abid” or “zurga” son of slave, or nigger. Many, if not all arabs refer to themselves as “beydanes” or white men.

      In addition, the criminal experiences of enslavement are caught in the following historic experiences:

      a) The Zanj Rebellion under the Abbassids, one of the most brutal consequences to slaves reevolting against “masters”;

      b) The Moslems, unwilling that unnecessary blood not be shed in Moslem lands, but fearful of letting in African male slaves, usually castrated them on the borders of Moslem territories. Also, African women were prized in the harems because, arab men claimed that during the excessive daily heat, the skin of Black women were several degrees cooler than the temperature;

      c) The British had to bombard the forts of the Yemeni arabs to force them to end the slave trade from East Africa where, unlike west Africa where the Atlantic Slave Trade occurred, in the east it was the Hyena Trail since these animals stalked the long lines of slaves strung together from neck to neck to avoid their escaping. This made it easier for hyenas to steal and kill Africans. The British bombardment occurred in 1918!

      d) when I taught in North America, one graduate student told me of how surprised he was to have me as teacher since in Saudia Araba from where he came, Black men were the ones used during public beheadings as executioners.

      In fact, if anything, the enslavement of Africans by arabs occurred for centuries before the criminal slavery by Europeans, and continued and continues (present tense) long after.

      The arabs weakened Africa for the Europeans and only wish to have African support when in the UN they have some motion to pass against Israel.

      This is no lessening of the impact had on Africa by Europeans, Jews or others. However, one myth created by the NATION OF ISLAM is that Islam has always been a friend of Africa … sure, like corrosive acid is good for the stomach.

  11. Never Dirty

    Not sure, maybe you were looking at football and replying. Your response doesnt speak well for your ability to answer questions. I was taught very early at University that (arabic translation) half of an answer is in understanding the question.

    Lets break this down:

    My question: Please point out where in the Islamic belief system you find racism etc.

    Your response was all but relevant:

    1 – Actions of the Abbassids
    2 – Actions of Arab men
    3 – Actions of the Yemenis

    Please say that you were teaching at a Primary School.

    Please, this time, respond to the question.


  12. Are you the same Umar who failed … Primary? And still failing, poor soul? Shalom “anti ghabiya”!

  13. Guess I did fail, not they way youre speculating, but at an assessment of you. I thought you had something to offer. I realise now that you are at sea when it comes to objectivity and Islam. After all, you were given a chance to redeem some integrity when the irrelevance of your response was broken down. Instead, you resort to insult, poor thing. Even your transliterationn of a basic nominal sentence is wrong, you could have saved yourself the embarrassment by using google translate at least. Dont pretend to know about something you know nothing about. Let it now be exposed that you cannot substantiate Keith’s claim that Islam (inferred when he said religion) advocates racism and neither can he, because it simply is a dirty unfounded fabricated lie.

    Nothing personal neverdirty, but I have a duty to highlight mischievous work. If you notice, I simply asked a pertinent strategic question. I knew that neither you nor Keith could have answered affirmatively.

    Sincere peace.

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