If we’ve said it once (and we certainly have) we’ve said it a million times. Okay, seemingly a million times: The STAR Person of the Year need not be a hero, need not be particularly bright, need not be everybody’s cup of char. As has been the case since 1927, when Time magazine introduced the winner of its first Man of the Year accolade and let it be known their decision was based on how—for better or for worse—“a man, woman or idea had influenced events the preceding year,” STAR readers have not always agreed with our choices, among them Sir John Compton, Rufus Bousquet, Dr Stephen King, Nikeba Pierre, Richard Frederick, the singular Paris-based Saint Lucian fashion model Vincent McDoom, and Sarah Flood-Beaubrun.
Yes, indeed, a motley mix that also included Kenny Anthony (2006) and Indra Hariprashad (2003), a choice that proved especially controversial for the notion in some quarters that it was the trial judge’s reward for ruling in favor of Martinus Francois in his case against then prime minister Kenny Anthony (the decision was overturned on appeal). Perchance color-blind nitpickers should feel compelled to take me to task in any event, I should quickly add the first mentioned honoree had declared himself “retired from politics” when we controversially handed him our first and only “Man of the Century” award. This time around—and considering it may well prove an election year—we anticipate there’ll be as much consensus about our 2010 Person of the Year as in previous years.
It was no easy decision. Just when we had settled on a name, someone else would grab the national attention, forcing us to reconsider. Among the first nominations was the former prime minister who had obviously found his own medicine far too distasteful to swallow, by which I refer to the 1998 Louis Blom-Cooper Inquiry “into a trio of events in public administration in St Lucia in the 1990s” that the Kenny Anthony government initiated mere months after taking office and which begat its 2009 follow-up. We could only speculate on what went on in the erudite but battered head of Vaughan Lewis—one of the lambs set up for slaughter at the hands of Blom-Cooper—as his former tormentor-turned party brother fought to prevent the House Speaker from permitting the current government from doing to his reputation as he had done to the reputations of others, the deceased Sir John Compton included.
Quite a show it was that Kenny Anthony put up in parliament in the month of fools, including the Big Walkout when he couldn’t have his way with Madam Speaker.
Kenny Anthony’s nomination was still riding high when for the millionth time (okay, so again I exaggerate—but only a little!) he, er, “misspoke,” this time in relation to an election-related announcement by Kenneth Monplaisir. Alas, this was no ordinary faux pas and reminded even those irrevocably afflicted
with convenient amnesia of earlier misstatements best forgotten by the gentlemen and ladies in red. I mean, it was one thing to forget having pleaded on bended knee with his constituency’s worst criminals to “give the people a break for Christmas,” to the extent he actually believed he was incapable of such foolishness. Even when confronted with indisputable videotaped evidence, he had stubbornly refused to believe his own eyes and ears. (And here one is reminded of Ron Reagan’s recent revelation that his father was already suffering from Alzheimer’s during his first term as President of the United States. You just never know, do you?)
It was another thing altogether to encourage our suicidally-divided nation to rise and mutiny in protest against the law that requires voter-ID-card holders to be fingerprinted—as if indeed the present administration were responsible for the legislation when in fact all credit belonged to the wannabe George Odlum. Besides, there was nothing new about the law. How could Anthony have forgotten he put it in place in time for the unforgettable 2006 general elections!
Yes, we felt certain Kenny Anthony would win our Person of the Year by a yard—until that naughty-naughty business with the Straight Up host and the allegedly not-so- straight-up government minister. Who knew where that little matter was headed when first it sparked? Oh but soon it was “bursting in air” like the legendary bombs of
the Star Spangled Banner, destined to begat follow-up hits, or promises of hits, in familial St Vincent and the Grenadines and on home ground. (Count on it, there’ll be more of that!) Kenny Anthony also contributed heavily to the Straight Up hit parade with his song about a high-ranking government official that was untouchable even by the prime minister—which again set us thinking he might still be in the running for this newspaper’s 2010 Person of the Year.
That is, until we thought about Michael Walker. You know, the white man with the curly gray hair, who for several years has been endeavoring with the help of Judy Deterville and others to teach us via TV to take pride in our mother tongue—lang mama noo—the Creole language, that is. (You may bet your last spliff he’ll find fault with my spelling but then, so what’s new? Walker finds fault with nearly everything I do, especially with my Creole, if you can believe that!) But seriously, folks: here’s a guy (I almost referred to him as a non-national, which wouldn’t be altogether true. He has been resident here longer than have most native Saint Lucians!) Yes, here’s a man who is a member of nearly every local charity organization you might name (does Rotary qualify?). Which is not to say in name only or that he doesn’t cough up for unrelated activities in need of sponsorship. Dipping into his own pockets (and ever so quietly), Mike Walker not long ago secured the services of a leading local lawyer to successfully fight (no, it definitely wasn’t Martinus; I did say successfully!) a murder charge against a Massade Boys Training Center detainee. Mike then provided the young man with a job and a place to stay.
Two years later he is doing very well, thank you, and working toward a future that might’ve been absolutely dismal but for the white man with the gray curls.
I am writing all of this without Mike’s knowledge, fully anticipating his wrath when he discovers what I’ve been up to. And since I’m consequently guaranteed a hard time anyway, I might just as well throw in his generous monetary contributions to the
nation’s schools, where he is by now a figure quite familiar to the young students and their appreciative teachers, if not some folks at the education ministry. Enough, already I’ve sufficiently embarrassed my friend. I will say only that Mike, with all his obvious qualifications, didn’t quite make it to Person of the Year.
Neither did Levern Spencer, who is doing for largely unappreciative Saint Lucia via sports what Derek Walcott continues, through his Nobel-winning literature, to do in our name despite our stubborn determination not to read his oeuvre, on the perplexing ground that da man too deep, man; da man way too deep! (Obvious genius that he is, perhaps Derek will before too long learn that to win friends and influence gens Ste Lucie he must discover the will to be as shallow as are the rest of us. Yes, indeed. And anyway, the politicians have already rewarded Levern’s—and Darren Sammy’s laudable achievements!
Which leaves just one other possible candidate, whose unexpected short visit one day before the end of October left us unforgettable memories, good and bad. When you think about it, there were lessons to be learned even in the bad. We learned the hard way that some laws are designed to protect us from ourselves and that when we stubbornly disregard them there’s a price. If we didn’t know earlier, or if we simply didn’t care, now we know it’s suicidal to dump our waste here, there and everywhere when there
are designated areas maintained by taxpayers for the precise purpose. We know, too, that the DCA is not always our worst enemy; that politicians who turn blind eyes to dangerous
squatting in hope of collecting a vote at election time cannot be our friends. And we learned that division is a sure road to destruction, whether for families or for the nation.
But enough of the sheep in wolf clothing. Let us now consider the obvious good, by which I refer to the triumph of human nature over the October 30-31 natural disaster. How spiritually uplifting, not to say inspiring, it was to see Saint Lucians for once putting aside long-nurtured animosities and lesser differences in the best interests of love thy neighbor as thyself. Who knew we retained the ability to be kind to one another despite petty considerations, to happily sacrifice in the name of friend and stranger? Yes, who knew? Of course, the politicians—who cannot help their arachnid dispositions—predictably tried to muddy the pond but for the most part the rest of us came together as never before, much wiser for the experience, and effectively unsullied.
The hope is that it will not take another natural disaster to knock sense into our brainwashed heads—that before another year has passed we will recognize the discombobulating truth is that the politician’s core characteristic is selfishness.
Surely you must suspect by now the winner of our 2010 Person of the Year award is not at all a person, not even human, yet nevertheless served as our best reminder of the too often
underestimated power of unity in the face of adversity: Hurricane Tomas!

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