Casualties of war

FROM here on, Jamaica’s checkered political history will be chronologically categorised as AD – Anno Dudus (in the year of Dudus), BD (before Dudus) and AD (after Dudus). And 2010 will forever be regarded as annus horribilis for all well-thinking, patriotic Jamaicans, both here and abroad. Yes, we are “in deep trouble”.

National Hero Sir Alexander Bustamante, founder of the Jamaica Labour Party, must be weeping in his grave. His statue downtown Kingston which depicts when he bared his chest to the security forces, daring them to shoot him but spare the lives of his people, must now be viewed with bitter-sweet emotions when seen against the backdrop of what is happening in the Corporate Area with respect to the attempts to arrest West Kingston strongman Christopher “Dudus” Coke.

Today, one of his successors as leader of the JLP, Bruce Golding, who is also MP for West Kingston as well as Minister of Defence, has come across as seeking to say, “Shoot me (kill my political career) but leave Dudus alone.” In a foolish, cowardly and ill-conceived manner, Mr Golding and those in his party and government who have followed him blindly into this current conundrum, would have us accept that it is okay for one man to hold this country to ransom. Constitutional rights do not stop at Liguanea, indeed!

But in all of this, I have much difficulty blaming Dudus per se for what has transpired. After all, we all know who Dudus is and what he stands for. He has carved out his own fiefdom and established a state within a state which he rules over as the “president”. The people of Jamaica did not elect him; they elected Orette Bruce Golding who, by virtue of having convinced the governor general that he commands the majority of support from the 60 MPs, was appointed prime minister – first among equals. The oaths that he took would have served to convince us that as chief servant, he would be there to ensure that Jamaica remains a safe and potentially prosperous society.

In this context, how does one juxtapose collective responsibility with patriotism in order to ensure that the national interest supersedes narrow, partisan and personal interests? It takes statesmanship. Let me remind my readers that the definition of a statesman is a person who shows wisdom and skill in conducting state affairs and treating public issues, or one experienced or engaged in the business of government.

A politician, on the other hand, is described as a person actively engaged in politics, especially party politics, professionally or otherwise; often, a person holding or seeking political office: frequently used in a derogatory sense, with implications of seeking personal or partisan gain, scheming, opportunism, etc, as distinguished from statesman, which suggests able, far-seeing, principled conduct of public affairs. Bearing all of this in mind, can it be honestly said that there is one single statesman emerging from this wretched affair? Has our prime minister acted statesmanlike? You be the judge!

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