When I read Jomo Thomas’ piece last week I said here is burlesque at its best. I saw satire, lampooning and bantering. I was even more convinced when I read his last paragraph, “As Ambassador at Large, Plain Talk is confident that Fitz Huggins has the commitment, enthusiasm and drive to ask world leaders for those things our nation lacks but needs”. I guess commitment, enthusiasm and drive are enough to be in a position to beg world leaders for the things our nation lacks but needs. It might be, too, that ‘World Leaders’ have no more important things to do than to simply engage in philanthropic dialogue. But then in a newspaper read by all kinds of people, satire can easily be lost. A response I saw from at least one reader has raised doubts in my mind about my interpretation. Could it be that Jomo was serious and there was no attempt to lampoon the work of a diplomat?
The fact that Prime Minister Gonsalves and former Prime Minister Mitchell had to seek medical attention overseas seemed to be what spawned Jomo’s thoughts on this issue. He started with the legacies of colonialism and rightly followed up with the matter of the priorities of post-colonial governments. I needed to point this out because quite often when we complain about the legacies of colonialism, we fail to examine and discuss the priorities of our post-colonial governments. I remember distinctly during the run up to the last election our prime minister saying that polls showed that health care was not high on the list of the peoples’ priorities or something to that effect.
My reaction was to say that was sheer madness, unless he was referring to people I don’t know or perhaps people of a special class.
Jomo continues, “And here is where Fitz Huggins comes in.” “Huggins does not care for the good graces of diplomacy. He was never trained as one and it shows. He wears as a badge of honour his support for the governing party. He is a political jihadist and aims his sharpest spears at opposition politicians and supporters. He wades into matters social and political in ways no trained diplomat would, but few will question his nationalist and patriotic bonafides”; qualifications I suppose to satisfy the criteria to be ‘Ambassador at Large’. I don’t know what are the most important of the qualifications; his ‘nationalist and patriotic bonafides’ or being a ‘political jihadist’. But that is to short- change the Ambassador for he has “demonstrated an ability to build contacts and seek out practical benefits for our country.” He has been more visible than any other diplomat. But there is more to him. “Huggins has acquired used vehicles and fire engines , (my emphasis) for our police, seeds for our farmers and tons of relief supplies wherever there is a disaster.”
You might disagree with the argument but ask “a distressed citizen who makes an urgent call to a police station only to be told there is no police vehicle. Worse, watch your house or business burn for lack of a functioning fire engine.” It appears that in this fantasy world that Jomo is creating in his burlesque, Huggins’ first mission is to find an MRI machine and an MRI suite. It might be that used ones will suffice. “With the necessary diplomatic cover and mandate, Fitz can travel around the world in search of this kind of assistance.” Jomo in his satirical piece should picture Fitz joining the SVG team at the UN Security Council in pursuing his mission. Unfortunately, there isn’t a lot of time left for him to get started. There could be no better ‘diplomatic cover and mandate’ to give the ‘Ambassador at Large’ a start.
Is Jomo critical of the way in which we put people in certain positions? What is the role of an ambassador “who does not care for the good graces of diplomacy?” Even If Jomo is serious about having an ‘Ambassador at Large’ whose role is to beg for things we need, I still consider the article an excellent piece of satire!
Dr Adrian Fraser is a social commentator and historian