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​Banana or Ganja Republic?

MANY TRINIDADIANS – and Tobagonians, too – spent Wednesday’s Republic Day holiday cleaning up after this year’s worst floods (so far) and you can’t blame them for not being in the right mood to reflect on our republican status.

When you’re shovelling a tonne of mud out of your bedroom, so that you can get your fridge and TV down from the top of the clothes closet, the only place they could stay dry, your thoughts don’t naturally run to listing the innumerable practical advantages of not having Queen Elizabeth as your head of state.

Or having a president whose greatest asset, you’ve learned from bitter experience, is that he or she remains permanently unnoticed, occasionally quietly holding tea parties for foreign dignitaries (instead of regularly kicking domestic constitutional or political marabunta nests).

How many Trinidadians would have noticed the irony of so many citizens having to beg for help on the anniversary of the day the country theoretically asserted itself as standing fully on its own two feet?

Indeed, if people did get around to reflecting on the old republican status, they could have been forgiven for wondering whether they mightn’t have been better off before Independence.

Of course, if we had not won our independence from the colonial oppressor – or, put another, more accurate way – if the Mother Country hadn’t chucked us, a helpless infant, into the ocean to sink or swim on our own – we wouldn’t necessarily have been better off; indeed, any Third World politician being pilloried by his own citizens for his failures need only look at (what we must still for the moment call) Great Britain to realise the name “Mother Country” runs precisely one syllable too long.

If the Commonwealth had remained colonies of the UK, we’d feel much better now about our own political leaders, from David Granger through Keith Rowley to Imran Khan, just by glancing at Bozo the Clown Johnson, who, on our Republic Day, returned to the Parliament he lied to the queen to have shut down, only to twist the murder of the late MP, Jo Cox, by a Brexiteer loonie, into what he saw as a Brexit advantage.

So we’re lucky to have Mia, Roosevelt and Jacinda.

Indeed, compared to that opportunistic Eton imps, who has clearly chosen to become the Prime Minister of Leave, not of the UK, we in the Commonwealth are lucky to have Two-Plate Ralph and Blackface Justin.

Had we been spared this week’s devastating, relentless, merciless – and entirely predictable – floods that banished all thought but those of coping, somehow, with the disaster of the moment, how many Trinis would have reflected on anything at all? Other than, obviously, how many cole-beeyars to pack in the cooler for the beach lime? Or whether to wash the underside of the truck in the river before, or after, currying the duck?

Given the choice of asking themselves, “How fares our republic?” or “It have any Venes making fares tonight?” Trinis will default to the faulty option.

It’s not that we don’t care about the republic; it’s that we, the citizens, uphold neither the rights of nor the responsibilities to it.

Why think about the state of the judiciary? The government? Parliament? Health? Education? Why think about anything at all, particularly what you should do, and ex-specially on a public holiday, when you’re finally getting a break from thinking about what you have to do?

My still-comrade columnist and ex-colleague, Wesley Gibbings, this week, citing a Facebook post by David Rudder (whom, in this Republic Day context, I wouldn’t call, “King”), asked whether we are not all going to be washed away by what Lloyd Best called our own un-responsibility. (My interpretation of Wes’ column.)

My still-comrade columnist and ex-learned friend (because the only bar we’re still both at serves real liquor, not notional justice), Martin Daly, this week pointed out, inter alia, the great good sense of Catholic Archbishop Joseph Harris’s suggestion that prisoners who have been kept in jail for longer than the maximum sentence they would have received for their offence should be released.

I could myself toss in, in this Republic Day week, the notion that, if West Indian people are to survive in a divided world that don’t need islands no more, we should think deeply and quickly about legalizing marijuana and becoming the world’s ganja cruise ship destination before we’re lost in the rubble of hurricanes and hurry politics.

But, as long as you’re kept busy by the consequences of your own ill- or not at all-considered decisions – such as to allow the construction of houses in a flood plain or on a mountain, or to vote based on tribe, not competence – you prevent yourself from thinking about how you can change your own decisions.

And lives.

And benefit the republic.

But who in Trinidad has time for thought when the river comes down?

Or the beers are cold?

BC Pires is an unpatriotic neemakharam who really should have thought a bit deeper about his own headline

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