Dr. Fraser- Point of View
July 20, 2007
It was all in a week

On Sunday, July 8, while many would have had Carnival on their minds and were looking forward to the Dimanche Gras show, I was making my way out of the country missing my first carnival in 19 years. Really what I was missing was the heart of carnival for to me, the final Sunday, Monday and Tuesday are the essence of carnival. So it was with a ‘bleeding’ heart that I got to E.T Joshua at about 4:45 a.m. Then I got news I didn’t expect. The flight was delayed for two hours. My 9:30 connection in Barbados was therefore in jeopardy. When at around 7:15, I could hear nothing further I vented my anger on one of the supervisors. This is unfortunate because the employees are often not the ones to blame but they are the only ones we see.{{more}} As I later found out during the carnival season they were really at the receiving end of a lot of anger by frustrated passengers. Anyhow since making a 9:30 connection was out of the question, we (there were three other passengers also going to Jamaica) were rescheduled to go on a direct flight to Antigua and were assured that LIAT in Antigua would give us priority treatment. Our eight o’clock flight turned out to be nine o’clock. I must say that despite our anger the LIAT personnel were quite pleasant and tried to do what they could.

We arrived in Antigua after the Caribbean Airlines flight was closed. Fortunately for us Caribbean Airlines had been delayed in Trinidad, which gave us some leeway. LIAT in Antigua appeared not to know anything about anything but after some dialogue they were able to get Caribbean Airlines to reopen their flight to accommodate us. Of course in the not so old days if either Liat or Caribbean Star was delayed we could, providing there was space, get on to the other. Not so these days! The flight to Jamaica was smooth and pleasant. I arrived in Jamaica only to find out that the ruling Peoples’ National Party was holding a mass rally at which it was expected that the date for election would be announced. It was being carried live on TV, so I forgot my worries for the day and settled down to look at and listen to it. In Jamaica it is always better following election rallies by radio or television. A crowd which the police estimated to be between 100,000 to 125,000 filled every nook and cranny of the section of Half Way Tree where it was held. Persons who knew the area agreed with the police estimate. It was a good show, with an enthusiastic crowd, all eager to hear the date. It was a sort of carnival as Portia and the candidates danced their way around to the ever present sounds. One of the newspapers on the following day even had a picture of one of the candidates doing a special shuffle. It was fun and Portia seemed to relish it. She opted to read the programmes and plans of her party which must have been boring to those in attendance who had probably heard most of it before and who were there to hear the announcement of the Day. P.J Patterson was very much in the picture and presented the Prime Minister with the key ‘to fly di gate’. The candidates were officially presented to the gathering. What struck me was the number of women. I did not count them but they must have been between ten and twelve. Among them was Lisa Hannah, Miss World 1994 whose entry into politics did not at first get a warm reception in the constituency she is scheduled to contest. Two other candidates that caught my attention were Dr. Trevor Munroe, UWI Political Scientist and Dr. D.K Duncan who had been one of Michael Manley’s main Lieutenants and who had served as General Secretary of the PNP. After the presentation of candidates Portia brought out the trumpet and the horn was sounded by one of her attendants. Then the announcement everyone waited for.

She was the 7th Prime Minister of Jamaica, a country that had 7 National heroes. Nomination Day was to be the 7th of August and election day, the 27th of August. The Sevens were at play. Then the criticisms began. She was indulging in the occult. Bruce Golding the Leader of the Opposition could not control himself. Obviously expecting a July date he was mad with the long election campaign and claimed that in his first 100 days (if he was elected, that is) he was going to amend the constitution to have a fixed election date. Golding obviously lost his cool. For one, a fixed election date is at variance with the Westminster system of government that caters to votes of no confidence. So the talk of a fixed election date to be dealt with in the first 100 days is a lot of nonsense. He should simply have said that while he had hoped for a shorter period of campaigning he was ready and willing to take on his opponents. It is true that in the volatile situation that exists in Jamaica during elections, a long campaign period opens itself to the possibility of increased violence but it is in any event the responsibility and duty of the leaders to ensure that it is not so.

I got up the next day and was off to a meeting wearing a green shirt. It didn’t occur to me that I was the object of a lot of attention until a friend enquired what I was doing wearing a green shirt, the colour of the Opposition. He assured me however that once I remained on campus I wouldn’t have a problem but warned me not to walk around town in that colour. I was uneasy. My striking green shirt appeared as if following the rally of the previous night I had come out to make a statement. So at the earliest opportunity I hustled back to my room and rid myself of that colour. I had two other green shirts and given the way things were going I became worried that I might have had to turn up to my meetings shirtless. And while on this topic I was told to ask students going to the campus during the period of elections to avoid wearing either green or orange. But are we any different with our red and yellow?

Given what has happened in St. Lucia and the Bahamas there must be concern in Jamaica. The PNP is seeking an unprecedented fifth term of office. The polls have been indicating a close contest but it appears that the key will rest with the person of Portia Simpson who remains one of the most popular politicians in Jamaica as recently commissioned Gleaner polls have shown. When asked if they had an opportunity to share a bucket of chicken and some cornmeal pudding with either leader who would they select, 50 percent choose Portia, 25 percent Golding. When asked to choose one or the other as travelling companions 50 percent choose Portia and 27 percent Golding. The contest is definitely a close one but Jamaicans seem to admire Portia Simpson despite her limitations and she just might make the difference. But there are still about 39 days to go and a day in politics is a long one indeed. St.Lucia and the Bahamas have shown that the incumbents are under a lot of pressure.

Now on my way to St.Vincent! I was scheduled to arrive at 9:30 pm on July 15. At that time I was in Barbados and no one was able to tell me when or if I would leave. Eventually we touched down at E.T Joshua at about 11 p.m. The joys of travelling, Eh!