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Politics for the small man!

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Contributing Author Dickson Igwe

This Writer, and Public Officer in her Majesty’s Government, is fully aware of the fine line, maybe even tight rope, he has walked over the years. He is always appreciative of the magnanimity and tolerance his superiors in Government have adopted towards his rendition in pen.

He believes this is a result of his overt political neutrality, and his further exertions in writing narratives that speak to objectivity and balance in all matters worthy of public comment. He has been told that he must be very careful when writing about matters political and controversial, and so far so good, he must say!


He is also grateful to his Patrons: the Owners and Managers of the various print and online media who have carried his stories and articles. This is an extraordinary privilege he has never taken for granted. To BVI News, the BVI Beacon, and Virgin Islands News, he publicly expresses his thanks.  He is also thankful for having had the opportunity to have written select pieces for BVI Platinum.


Now, readers must be scratching their heads and asking: what is this guy getting at! And they are right to think this. Just days before a momentous and historic general election, this is certainly not the time for any Public Officer to be writing an article on politics. And he was definitely going to give his pen a rest this weekend. But alas, a number of his readers have said to him that they are expecting a commentary this early November, 2011. So, with fist on chin, and after deep thought, he has decided to write.


Albeit, this is a much ‘defanged’ piece of writing: anodyne, and it is oriented towards the individual voter, those who may be considered ‘the silent majority, those quiet men and women who live their lives, hoping for the best, in an always difficult world. But men and women grateful to be participants in a great human experiment called democracy.


Now yours truly has adopted a new modus operandi it appears. He has taken to reviewing the Virgin Islands’ weekly newspapers, and the online media, as a rich source of news commentary, and that is in addition to his periodic forays into the world of international news. Recently, he has found great pleasure pulling valuable tidbits from the BVI Beacon to which he is a contributor, but he certainly will get around to the rest of the country’s newspapers and blogs, and yes, he is finding a wealth of material inherent. Will this become a modus Vivendi? Only time will tell, but what a thing!


Now, before he starts on another rendition of things political, always a slippery task in a small community, and a potentially thorny pastime, requiring balance, caution, and wise writing, he wishes to thank Mr. Edgar Leonard for his splendid summary of Virgin Islands political history in the national news media, at the latter part of October, 2011. His was a magnificent mural using the pen, and a synopsis that speaks of genius. It takes great effort and exertion writing two hundred and more years of history in just a few paragraphs.


But, for the purposes of this present article on politics, the aspect of Mr. Leonard’s narrative that spoke stated that‘’ politics in the BVI is tough business, for candidates standing for election, may not always be elected based on merit’’ that ‘’Virgin Islanders can spot opportunists and phonies’’ and ‘’have memories like an elephant. ‘’ Yes Mr. Leonard, but is that not the nature of politics everywhere else? Aren’t men and women of politics elected on anything but merit? Or am I being too cynical about politicians, voters and the ancient art of politics? Anyway, let’s proceed!



Mr. Leonard went on to describe how ‘’Candidates may be otherwise qualified, but support may be withheld if you pass a fellow and do not hail him up, or if you pass a man and do not give him a lift, or if a man asked for help and you failed to deliver.  District politics is tough and challenging for many elites, big shots, and the upper class.’’ I fully agree Mr. Leonard: if a politician has to please everyone he or she comes across, and if he or she does not, and is then penalized, then for this political observer and layman, it isn’t worth it. And it is interesting to note that the Virgin Islands possess an upper class this 2011, that is alive and well; a veritable elite, well, well and hear, hear!


Mr. Leonard further described how in order to ‘’get elected and re-elected, one has to go visit consistently Miss Jane, Taunty Maude, Uncle Joe, or Brother Bob at their humble places of abode and share a slice of tart, a cup of bush tea, a bowl of pea soup, a glass of guava berry, a piece of fry, or relive some folklore.’’ Charming and extremely interesting observation, Mr. Leonard, and very enlightening: a must read for every politician running for office this election season. Yes, politics is a very tough business indeed sir!


In another vein; and in a small community such as this is, victimization, retribution, and retaliation are matters to be concerned about, and voters who may be deemed vulnerable: the small fry, as opposed to the big Kahunas, the thousands of employees in both the private and public sectors, the unemployed, Joe Average, Joe the Plumber, Pan Handle, the regular man on the street corner: all are right to be cautious and restrained at election time.  The wrong perceived political inclination, statement, and gesture, is often misinterpreted by the powers that be, and could mean four years out in the cold for the perceived activist and enthusiast.  Caution is wisdom, and it is wise to be cautious at election time.


In a small community, the vocal and noisy political activist is often made to suffer if he or she makes the ‘wrong’ political choice. Better be quiet and humble, than loud, and then made to go ‘hungry’ for four years: being passed over for promotion in the public service, or your small business going bust because you are ignored in the contract tendering process after being thought too friendly with the enemy on the other side of the political spectrum, even getting the sack if your employer is of the opposite political complexion, add harassment on the street if you are believed to be of a certain political persuasion; all these are very real fears for the ‘small man.’


Now, I will also share another newspaper nugget from Jacqueline Wheatley’s commentary in the BVI Beacon of October 27, 2011, titled ‘’ Writer calls for change in VI politics.’’ Ms. Wheatley has determined that ‘’ politics has become ungodly, selfish, and an insult to the people’s intelligence.’’


Can this be true? But let’s proceed: Ms. Wheatley admonished that BV Islanders, ‘’ must change politics in the VI’’ and ‘’ stand out as independent thinkers, regardless of family, friends, associates, status or experience.’’ Finally she encouraged the voter that ‘’ change can start this minute.’’


Yes Ms. Wheatley, you have said it all. And you are quite right. But one little thing you have omitted is the fact that politics is practiced by very human beings. Men and women made of flesh, blood and bone, and who are very imperfect indeed. But please do not let me stop you calling for a better and higher way, a nobler route. It is certainly much needed in today’s political climate. By the way, your article was refreshing and delightful reading, and thank you Ms. Wheatley. One must not become too cynical!


Ok. It is just a matter of days before polling day.  And in this voter’s opinion, this has been a clean campaign so far, despite the usual political shenanigans. So politicians and voters: let it remain so, after all, we have to live together after November 7, 2011. Not so? And do let us keep intact the fine traditions of this territory’s historic democratic and political legacy, especially for the benefit of future generations.

Politician Andrew-Fahie


Now, according to a VINO news piece, Honorable Andrew Fahie, a young, youthful, energetic, add formidable politician, made the comment at a meeting in Frenchman’s Cay on Monday October 24, 2011, that ‘’ after this election we will have a lot of mending to do’’ that the November 7, 2011 Elections for many ‘’ has become a war.’’ Honorable Fahie was probably right, and I prayed that things were not as bad as that.


Finally, as most BV Islanders know by now, every vote counts in our electoral system, and it is possible to win or lose an election, both at district, at-large and national level, by a single vote.  That is a simple mathematical reality. So I hope you got out there and did your part on Election Day: vote. And if you possess a disposition of faith, I hope prayed before you did so!


Dickson Igwe is on Twitter and Facebook



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