Last Sunday I was caught between watching the graduation ceremony of the Sir Arthur Lewis Community College and the Saint Lucia Labour Party’s convention, both of which were broadcast live on television.
I caught some of what SLP’s guest, Denzil Douglas, the prime minister of St. Kitts-Nevis, had to say; nothing inspiring, to say the least. Since he had introduced the other speakers I expected Doctor (honorary, not medical) Julian Hunte would do the same for the party’s political leader. I was wrong.
The special honor was reserved for still another Doctor (plants-related), Senator James Fletcher, who is the minister with responsibility for Public Service, Information, Broadcasting, Sustainable Development, Energy, Science and Technology.
He started his introduction by demonstrating he, unlike the leader of the other party, was a dab hand (tongue?) in creole. “Bon soir,” he greeted his audience. When they returned the greeting the gracious Dr. Fletcher, still in creole mode, said: “Merci.” Which sounded more like a plea than a thank you.
Salutations out of the way, Fletcher got down to serious business: “Brothers and sisters, what can I tell you about Kenny Anthony that has not already been said about him over the past eighteen years, since that day in 1996 when he was elected [unopposed] political leader in Laborie [in place of the ousted Julian Robert Hunte, now Sir Julian]? This is why, when I was asked to do the introduction today, I decided I would share with you my recollections, my experience and my impressions of Kenny Anthony over the last two decades I have known him. That way you would hopefully understand the essence of the man who will speak here in a while.”
Fletcher then placed Team En Rouge in his virtual time capsule. He recalled his first contact with Kenny Anthony in 1978. By the then A-Level student’s account, Kenny Anthony was a skinny, Afro-ed minister of education. Fast-forward to 1997 when Fletcher encountered a “focused and energized Dr. Anthony” at election time.
Fletcher recalled the SLP leader later having to put together a cohesive Cabinet. Also some of the prime minister’s innumerable accomplishments between 1997-2006, among them the reduction of unemployment and the introduction of universal secondary education.
“We were well on the way to universal health care in 2006,” Fletcher added. So what exactly has happened to UHC? Why has unemployment skyrocketed after three years under this leader fresh out of purgatory? Why has our education system not produced workers able to access available jobs? Fletcher had other things on his mind, the transformation and the growth of Kenny Anthony while in opposition, for instance.
“When Kenny Anthony was prime minister of Saint Lucia, up until 2006, I could not get to ask his Cabinet secretary to turn on his computer, to send me a text message or to send me an e-mail. Would not do it. There was a computer in his office, a computer in his home. But he would not do it. Kenny Anthony in 2008, well, what Kenny Anthony did in 2008 . . . he was very fond of telling people . . . and I will do what I do not want him to do, because I know he is dying to tell you.
“For all of the technology they say that I know, he is the one who introduced me to the iPad. He had an iPad and he was the one who told me, ‘Jimmy, you must get yourself an iPad; this is a good device.’ So Kenny Anthony taught me
about the iPad in 2008 and as a result I bought an iPad in 2008.”
There were nods in amazement and some applause in the hall as Jimmy raised his iPad aloft, as it were some kind of e-Holy Grail, no doubt convinced that the red Kool Aid drinkers would believe him if he said that the day before the convention he had witnessed Kenny casually walking across the waters of the Castries harbor.
Why else would he have told his Castries Comprehensive School audience that he had acquired an iPad in 2008, on the recommendation of his leader who had earlier acquired his own iPad and declared it “a good device?”
For the record Steve Jobs was in no position to introduce the Apple iPad to the world until 3 April 2010!