Letters & Opinion

Birthdays and Anniversaries Bridging Generational Gaps

Image of Earl Bousquet
Chronicles Of A Chronic Caribbean Chronicler By Earl Bousquet

IT’S again time to pay my annual birthday tribute to the most amazing woman in my life, my mother Ina Mondesir, who turned 87 today.

She shares same birth date with Queen Elizabeth II, who turned 95 today and is spending her first birthday without Prince Philip, her husband for 74 years.

But while a mourning Great Britain is spending three dark weeks coming to terms with the fact that the longest-serving Royal Consort has ‘Gone to Meet His Maker’ — and may have to long and dutifully await his thus everlasting Wife-for-Life — the rest of the world’s attention also turned last weekend to another amazing woman.

On Sunday, the German press announced that Chancellor Angela Merkel was stepping-down from the leadership of the ruling Party Coalition, the Government and the Country, after 18 years.

She’s promised just that in 2018 — and has delivered.

But just take a look at how Germany reacted (in this WhatsApp message Forwarded to me by my brother Guy:

With six minutes of warm applause, on the streets, balconies, windows, the whole Country applauded for 6 minutes – spectacular example of leadership and defense of humanity, chapeaux!

The Germans elected her to lead them, and she led 80 million Germans for 18 years with competence, skill, dedication and sincerity. She did not utter nonsense. She did not appear in the alleys of Berlin to be photographed. She was dubbed “The Lady of the World” and who was described as the equivalent of six million men.

During these eighteen years of her leadership of the authority in her Country, no transgressions were recorded against her. She did not assign any of her relatives to a government post. She did not claim that she was the maker of glories. She did not get millions in payment, nor did anyone cheer her performance, she did not receive charters and pledges, she did not fight those who preceded her.

Yesterday (April 18), Merkel left the party leadership position and handed it over to those after her, and Germany and it’s German people are in the best condition ever.

The reaction of the Germans was unprecedented in the history of the Country. The entire population went out to their balconies of their houses and clapped for her spontaneously for six continuous minutes. A standing ovation nationwide.

Germany stood as one body bidding farewell to their leader, a chemical physicist who was not tempted by the fashion or the lights and did not buy real estate, cars, yachts and private planes, knowing that she is from former East Germany.

She left her post after leaving Germany at the top. She left and her relatives did not claim advantage. Eighteen years and she never changed her wardrobe. God be upon this silent leader.

At a press conference, a female Journalist asked Merkel: “We notice that you’re wearing the same suit, don’t you have any other?” She replied: “I am a government employee and not a model”

At another press conference, they asked her: “Do you have housemaids who clean your house, prepare your meals and so on?” Her answer was: “No, I do not have servants and I do not need them. My husband and I do this work at home every day.”

Then another journalist asked: “Who is washing the clothes, you or your husband?” Her answer: “I arrange the clothes, and my husband is the one who operates the washing machine, and it is usually at night, because electricity is available and there is no pressure on it, and the most important thing is to take into the account the possible inconvenience for the neighbours. Thankfully, the wall separating our apartment from the neighbours is thick.”

She said to them, “I expected you to ask me about the successes and failures in our work in the government…”

Mrs. Merkel lives in a normal apartment like any other citizen. She lived in this apartment before being elected Chancellor of Germany. She did not leave it and does not own a villa, servants, swimming pools or gardens.

Merkel — the now Former Chancellor of Germany, the largest economy in Europe!

The next day (Monday, April 19) another amazing thing happened — in the Caribbean — that the world also took notice of:

Sixty years — to-the-day — after Fidel Castro led the humiliating defeat the US-backed mercenary invasion at the Bay of Pigs (Playa Giron) and proclaimed the Socialist nature of the Revolution, his brother Raul, who also led Country, Party, Army and buried the immortal Fidel, stepped-down from the leadership of the Party and handed-over to President Diaz Canel Bermudez (whose birthday is also April 19).

The foremost representative of the aged and aging Cuban political leadership handed-over to the youngest, demonstrating their readiness to place the nation’s future in the hands of its youth.

President Diaz Canel, born after the 1959 Revolution, was a student leader with a colorful record who rose in the party’s leadership over a comparatively brief period, propelled by his ability to represent the bridging of the generational gap – especially at a time when the average age of party members is 55.

In his last speech as Party Leader, Castro called Sunday for the party to wake-up to the new challenges brough by the latest US sanctions through a historical process that’s seen administrations led by both major American parties support direct efforts, since Playa Giron, to destroy the Revolution.

Castro also urged his party comrades serving at all levels to trace and find weaknesses in governance and do more to ensure protection and survival of 62 years of revolutionary gains that have benefitted the world (including Saint Lucia and the Caribbean).

Raul Castro and Angela Merkel have both truly left their deep footprints in the sands of Time and History.

And mine continue to follow in my mom’s imprint.

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