Not too long ago Vincentian politics was a harmless process filled with virtuously fun- filled activities for the whole family, but today it is literally lynching or killing the very humanity that it seeks to govern.
A decade or so ago we used to have some pleasant motorcades. Both parties used to tour our small island in peace. Until one incident when a lady got hit in her eye from a stone thrown by a supporter of the other party.
Two things happened on that day. The lady never saw from that eye again, and St Vincent never had another political motorcade.
We probably need another political party in the mix here in St Vincent and the Grenadines because it seems this two-party system is driving a clear line of malice, hatred and damning injury left, right and centre.
The last two or three general elections have been splitting our usually friendly and happy citizens further and further apart. Put simply, our two-parrty politics is teaching Vincentians to see only colours; we are technically colour blind now.
I have had the actual experience of driving a red vehicle and slowly becoming conscious that people at the side of the road are actually “throwing words” (cursing) at me because they automatically think I am a supporter of the Unity Labour Party which is the governing party at this time.
On the other hand, during a general elections in recent history a gentleman was driving his yellow passenger van and attempted to drive through an intersection where the Unity Labour Party was having a street meeting. According to the driver, a supporter from the Unity Labour Party threw a stone and smashed his front windscreen to pieces.
For those of you who don’t know, yellow is the colour of the New Democratic Party which is currently the Opposition in parliament.
The most serious charge against our modern Vincentian politics happened last Saturday at the funeral of a political activist within the New Democratic Party, but who was a one-time political colleague of the Prime Minister, Ralph Gonsalves.
Elwardo “EG” Lynch was a member of the Ralph Gonsalves Movement for National Unity (MNU) before he crossed the political divide and took up arms with the New Democratic Party (NDP). He was the Opposition’s voice in that he was moderator of the NDP’s daily radio call-in programme.
According to the Prime Minister, he was invited by the family of the deceased to not only attend but to make some remarks in so far as paying a tribute to his long time friend and colleague in politics.
No sooner had the Prime Minister been invited to the podium than there was immediate heckling—long, loud and livid. One woman, who must have been a magician, seemed to have pulled out of nowhere a yellow bell. She rang it for all its worth.
To “ring the bell” is a political jargon which means that the Prime Minister announces the date for the next general elections. So these “mourners” were challenging the democratically elected leader to call elections. What a way to respect the dead and the bereaved family—not to mention the presence of God.
And as if that was not enough, she passed it on to another who continued in the fiasco. The daughter of the deceased tried to no avail to put out the fiery political fire.
A funeral was transformed into a political town hall meeting for the Opposition.
A sacred place of worship was dishonored in a most unapologetic manner.
Everyone has been airing their views on the matter. Like with other national issues involving politics, those on the opposition support the action while those supporting the governing party has condemned the assault on our leader and on a holy institution.
And I think this is the problem slowly eating out the inner societal organs of our political and human identity. As soon as a Vincentian has formed a political opinion and supports a particular party it seems to be a vote of no return. Apparently our politics has no escape clause. No one is allowed to retain an independent mind and vote for a different party than the one they supported in the last elections.
As a people we are learning to hate and destroy our own family, neighbours, friends, colleagues and associates. It is no secret that the fierce campaigns we witness in these times drive an intolerantly cruel rift between persons who at other times were getting along as the best of friends.
Members of the same household stop sharing rooms or amenities; patrons stop riding with certain vans or stop buying at certain shops; worshipers stop sitting next to other “brothers and sisters” in the House of the Lord because of a difference in opinion on politics.
So critical has become the Vincentian political warfare of the twenty first century that I am pretty sure if the volcano were to erupt during the next political campaign, many Vincentians would prefer to stay in their homes and die than to go to a shelter and share residence with people who support “the other political party”.
Even without the fuel of politics the Vincentian society is falling headlong into a new abyss of moral and social decay. There is a very visible increase in gun violence and homicides by gun; some bold and daring robberies and drive-by shootings are becoming the order of the day.
Just a fortnight ago a prominent businessman was held at gun point, forced into the trunk of his own vehicle, driven to a remote location, beaten, stripped naked, robbed and tied up. He was left for dead. Police later found his vehicle with some damage.
Fortunately, that businessman lived to tell the tales.
It is clear to me that St Vincent and the Grenadines has a disaster in the making which is far more destructive and costly than the flash floods of Christmas 2013, than a hurricane, earthquake or volcanic eruption. With the steady rise of the temperature in our political thermostat, we will soon be our own worst enemy and reason for extinction as a civilization worthy to inhabit this part of the peaceful world.
Will Vincentians ever rise to the political independence and maturity to stop politics from lynching our identity and the little dignity we have left?
(picture courtesy Searchlight newspaper)