Was it plane, boat, bus or donkey cart dah bring we to dis juncture? Back in 1951, ah was ah lickle nine year ole going on 10, when ah group of us ran away from home “bare-foot,” to de King George V Playing field at Arnos Vale, to witness ah double launching: ‘Adult Suffrage’ and de ‘Eight Army’, de newest/onliest Pull-it-to-kill Party formed by the United Workers, Peasants and Ratepayers Union (UWPRU). De March formed up at de Arnos Vale bridge. Interestingly de E.T. Joshua Airport was built, commissioned and decommissioned between den and now. Of more interest, in 1951 dey was ah rice field on de Casson Estate on de Western side of the Highway and a playing field on de East.
Dat morning dey was ah “crowd-ah-people.” No sign ah no ‘Eight Army’, not even policemen, no police band in dem days either, but dey was ah big Brass Band lined-up waiting. Present was ah group of well-dressed gentleman in suits: Rudolph and Julian Baynes, ET Joshua, Flick Haynes and others. Ah overheard someone saying: “ dem is de Eight Army!” De leader, George Charles was dressed in 3-pice black from head to toe, felt hat , white gloves, ah sword in one hand and ah Bible (dat poor Bible) in de other. Charles’ command was loud and clear: “All Union members form-up, men in front please!” Like lickle school pick-ah-narny, in abject servitude, de crowd, lots ah Spiritual Baptists, working class men women and children were ready. The Brass Band struck-up dat famous Trade Union Song: “Onward Christian Soldiers” or was it “Hold de Fort Union men be strong?”
Dey marched up Casson Hill like marathon runners, singing and clapping. And yuh know what? No noisy speakers, no armed police wid guns, in fact no police, no tear gas, no hitches along de way. De Victory March for Adult Suffrage was an official reality. Democrcy was alive and well. Today it is ah different thing: It’s ah De-mockery-sea! Ah must men-shun dat later dat year, de Eight Army was the only party to contest the 1951 general elections and won all eight seats.
Dat was seventy years ago. So way did we go astray? Who bring we dis way? Dey uses to be nuff Picong in Politics, on and off de platform.
Den slowly we forget 1951 and to hell was Democrcy, freedom of speech is on Trial. Radio Stay-shuns and Newspapers, de Nay-shun watch dogs metaphorically wearing COVID 19 Mask, washing dey hands and keeping distance. De slightest hint of any Defamatory Statements about de PM will be humbled in Courts. Dug-he De Freitas’ NICE Radio has already paid over half million dollars to de PM, he has another quarter million dollars Law Sue coming up. De PM is seeking an estimated half a million dollars in damages from Jomo Thomas, former ULP Speaker of de House, claiming that he defamed him in his weekly Newspaper column. De question is, who is next and how much will be demanded of him or her.
Lie-Za asked me to share one ah Jesus’ Parable wid de Pry-minister: “The ground of a certain rich man yielded an abundant harvest. He thought to himself, ‘What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.’ Then he said to himself, ‘I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store my surplus grain. And I’ll say to myself, “You have plenty of grain laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.”’ But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’ And wid dat is gone ah gone again.
One Love Bassy
Bassy Alexander is a land surveyor, folklorist and social commentator.