I keep turning my mind to the time when I paid close attention to public political meetings. I first listened when West Indian leaders gathered at Columbus Square in Castries (now Derek Walcott square), to promote a federation of the West Indies. Later, I attended in Port-of-Spain, Tunapuna and Arima in Trinidad, in the early sixties, campaigns leading to that country’s independence. I was present in Antigua and also in Barbados during electioneering campaigns in late 1970s. I heard many statements that were hard hitting, strident and filled with emotion, some falling short of their advertised purpose. But not once did I hear an asinine statement, that an election would be fought between a political party and a well known and respected family. Elections were always between political parties.
When therefore, the Prime Minister of Saint Lucia told his supporters that the next elections here would be between his SLP and the Chastanet family I was taken aback. Frankly, when he later repeated that statement I concluded that something had gone seriously amiss. What could that be, I wondered. I had seen the many times Kenny Anthony had driven to Michael Chastanet’s home before the 1997 elections. The pictures he took with Chastanet and Butch Stewart and Bill Clinton speak of happier days. So what went wrong?
To everyone’s chagrin the attacks on the Chastanet family had smacked of racism. It emphasized the suspicion that something awful had happened, and Kenny Anthony was hurting. Sadly, the attacks against the Chastanets’ did not stop there. Others who support and defend the Prime Minister have taken upon themselves to follow their ‘master’s lead’ and cast aspersions at persons such as Guy Joseph who are friends of the Chastanet family. But they should think again and desist from making racially loaded statements about Guy Joseph or anyone else.
I recall that in the days leading to political independence for Trinidad and Tobago prime minister designate Eric Williams had asked his countrymen to denounce and abandon the words ‘coolie’ and ‘nigger,’ from their vocabulary. These were words he claimed, that were used by those who wished to denigrate ‘his countrymen’ and keep them tied to the past. “Political independence should mark the final step towards true freedom; racial slurs or any semblance of racism should therefore be left to languish outside the portal of independence.” Eric Williams became the longest serving prime minister of Trinidad and Tobago.
It is a gross insult to the intelligence of the people of Saint Lucia, who celebrated 36 years of independence last February, to be told that one family would be the target of an election. So I ask again, what did that family do? Then it hit me; perhaps the asinine statement was about that man himself and not about the Chastanets.
Kenny Anthony’s outrageous lies, his asinine verbiage and his nervous disposition speak of a failed politician on his way down who wishes to take with him the material expressions of his anger and envy. His friends, if any be left, should tell him that that would not work. I respectfully suggest that what Kenny Anthony must do is to find that $100,000,000.00 he promised, complete and open St. Jude hospital and the European built one, quickly build the four-lane highway from Hewanorra airport to Gros Islet and then fall on his knees and pray. Pray unceasingly!
The repeated attacks on the Chastanet family and on Guy Joseph should be repudiated and denounced by all right thinking persons.
What I find most interesting is that these scurrilous attacks say more about the attacker than the persons to whom such venom is aimed. In this context a little digging should help answer to the question: ‘from whence came the name Anthony? Why are his siblings ‘Barnard’ and he who is of same flesh and blood, ‘Anthony?’ Isn’t this the Barnard who gave his name to children he so loved? Is that the name renounced for Anthony? What’s so wrong in carrying the name Barnard? Recalling that children have no say or control from whence they came, Saint Lucians are generous in their acceptance of names by which people call themselves. Names matter! Ask Rick Wayne.
So the problem may not be with the Chastanet family, only with the name. Even so the anger which is directed at the Chastanet family is paradoxical. It seems like a wound directed and inflicted by the attacker upon himself. That which feeds Anthony’s animosity I strongly suggest has nothing to do with Guy Joseph or the Chastanet family. The sooner Kenny Anthony and his hacks face up to this the better.
Incidentally, Allen Chastanet, who I pray will be re-elected political leader of the UWP on 15th November, has vowed to fight wrongs and defend rights, for all Saint Lucians regardless of political affiliation. I offer one more piece of advice to Kenny Anthony: he should pause and think of the number of persons the Chastanet family employ and the many that own shares and sit at business meetings for the first time in their lives. Which other business person has done the same for his employees? It is a sharing system which no other has tried on the island, as far as I am aware.
Considering where the Chastanet family started and how hard they have worked, their achievements should be celebrated and encouraged in others, and not diminished. A people still trying to find their feet in the post colonial era must learn to embrace success and point its youth to emulate success rather than to castigate it. At no time should one encourage the promotion of mediocrity and envy. We ought to say no to any return to the past. ‘Forward ever, backward never’ must therefore become for every Saint Lucian more than mere slogan; it must be a way of life, a philosophy for living.
Perhaps the truth about Kenny Anthony is that he has chosen to fight his opponents with the tools he most dislikes – the family name. But he is climbing the wrong tree. Allen Chastanet and Guy Joseph are the two most formidable opponents Kenny Anthony and his new Labour are confronted with. One day his newly made UWP friends may come to rue their shaky ‘friendship’ with him. Whatever he does and however he does it, Kenny Anthony and his acolytes will not succeed; they have failed and deceived too many people too often. The IMPACS report and its secret findings are but one example. The game is over for Kenny Anthony and his men and they know it. Such a realization may be behind his asinine and nervous attacks, against the Chastanet family and Guy Joseph.