He kicked off his address with a clear recollection of what conceivably was the most memorable day of his life. At any rate, his professional life. Panning his audience at last Sunday’s streamed Conference of Delegates (with bespectacled eyes that spoke volumes to the informed observer), Kenny Anthony referenced his life-changing moment in May 1997: “I don’t know when this country will ever produce a crowd of that size in any part of this island at any time. But I remember it with great nostalgia.”
Pointless dwelling on the egregious sentence construction by the former secondary school principal and UWI lecturer. Neither his peculiar ability to “remember with great nostalgia.” Better to acknowledge that however badly he’d said what he said before a combined home crowd and his declared ever-faithful five thousand Facebook followers, he did not exaggerate. Certainly not when, reminiscent of the current White House occupier, he spoke of the numbers that had traveled from all parts of the island, never mind near impassable deadly roads, perchance to touch his sleeve or catch a last glimpse of him as he delivered his final campaign address.
I had witnessed with absolute befuddlement, and photographed for posterity what (with Moses on my mind) I described in a related report for this newspaper as “a sea of red”—an unspoken prophecy of what would come to pass two or three days after the Vieux Fort miracle: an unprecedented 16-1 election victory for Kenny Anthony’s Labour Party, made sweeter by the independent candidate Julian Hunte’s predictable performance in Gros Islet against one of the SLP’s leading men, Mario Michel.
To return to last Sunday’s show, televised live from the Beane Field Secondary School in Vieux Fort. The appropriately costumed martyr Kenny Anthony is on the podium: “This constituency, by virtue of the fact that it is an opposition constituency, and who its representative has been over the years, has attracted unprecedented attention by the United Workers Party. But the United Workers Party commits one fatal error” (Several dictionaries define fatal error as ‘an error in a computer program which causes running of the program to be terminated.’ Every definition related to computer systems! Fellow nitpickers are free to determine for themselves why Kenny Anthony chose to qualify ‘error’ in this instance with an adjective associated with death and destruction.)
In all events, this is how the opposition parliamentary representative explained the particular fatal error: “The United Workers Party confuses its attacks on me personally with the wants, the desires and the needs of my constituents, the people of Vieux Fort South.” Accidents occur even in politics. Which is why I am not about to suggest malice may have motivated the cameraman to pan the two front row seats—with a Cuban entourage at one end and on the other an expressionless Vaughan Lewis—precisely when the ashen-faced man at the microphone was spewing lines as ironic as they were bitter.
“It has faced repeated attacks by the UWP in the past twenty years,” Kenny Anthony revealed.“I don’t think there is any constituency that the United Workers Party has invested heavily to remove the candidate as the constituency of Vieux Fort.”
It may be instructive at this point to inform incredulous readers that on the occasion the Vieux Fort South MP had attempted to play it safe by reading from a prepared text. How then to explain the quoted non-sequiturs in the immediately preceding two paragraphs? How was it possible for the United Workers Party to confuse its “personal attacks” on Kenny Anthony with the “wants, needs, and desires” of Kenny Anthony’s constituency? Be reminded, dear reader, Kenny Anthony was from 1997 to 2006, and again from 2011 to 2016, prime minister of Saint Lucia and MP for Vieux Fort South—not to say finance minister—for a total of some 14 years. Surely that was time enough for him to have delivered often promised better days and jobs, job, jobs; if not to all of Saint Lucia, then at the very least to the people who had elected and reelected him, albeit with less and less enthusiasm, judging by successive election returns. He had barely survived his last outing, against an opponent not especially famous for vigorous electioneering!
“Despite it all,” he assured last Sunday’s audience, “we in Vieux Fort South have stood firm. We have been unfazed. We have been bruised. But we have never been battered.” Bruised but never battered? Am I missing something here? Was Kenny Anthony suggesting to his fawning Facebook fraternity and his at-home party faithful that the UWP is actually a lot kinder than previously he had claimed? That the UWP had chosen only to “injure his underlying tissue without breaking his skin, as by a blow?” Or was the bruising a consequence of aggressive lovemaking? I am at a loss what to make of his somewhat contradicting “we have never been battered,” if by battered he means to say he and his followers were never “pounded repeatedly with heavy blows”—not by the United Workers Party!
Again the shiny ebony image of Vaughan Lewis was on-screen when the Vieux Fort South MP said: “This government, the Chastanet government, has decided to strip Vieux Fortians of their patrimony by giving away 900 acres of land to a developer who probably never believed he could find a prime minister so willing to sell his country’s patrimony on a platter.”
He looked around the room, as if seeking a particular face (could it have been that of Ernest Hilaire, seated inconspicuously several rows from the stage?), inhaled deeply, held up the fore and middle fingers of his right hand before continuing: “I want to say two things, and they can choose to interpret it as they want: first, touch St Jude; try to demolish St. Jude and you will feel the wrath of the people of Vieux Fort, both north and south. The second thing I want to say: give away our land and feel our collective anger. Understand that we will fight you; we will fight you in parliament; we will fight you in the streets; we will fight you in our courts; we will fight you in our homes, in our communities and wherever we may have access to media that is interested in truth and justice.” No need to identify the outlets; they were well known!
Someone I once admired, alas no longer with us, had offered me the following advice: “Never be embarrassed to borrow ideas. But be certain always to borrow from the very best!” As I listened in awe to Kenny Anthony’s “we will fight you in the streets” promise, Winston Churchill came to mind. Did the revered, long expired prime minister of England inspire our shameless wannabe George Odlum? Before writing the closing lines to last Sunday’s address, did he visit We Shall Fight On Our Beaches?
Churchill: We shall defend our island, whatever the cost may be. We shall fight on our beaches. We shall fight on the landing grounds. We shall fight in the fields and in the streets. We shall fight in the hills.We shall never surrender!
What do you think, dear reader? Did he?
The Vieux Fort South MP paused yet again before resurrecting his allegation that the “vindictive” Chastanet government had discontinued SLP projects in Vieux Fort and elsewhere “just to teach Kenny Anthony a lesson.” At least, this time around he did not threaten to retaliate by warning off foreign entrepreneurs interested in investing in Saint Lucia. At the time he issued this particular threat he was, as now, in opposition, by his own account rejuvenated after an extended period of cleansing in Purgatory, and ready again to be this country’s prime minister.
For the record, the prime minister has said more than once, never mind a particular misconstrued statement by the health minister, it is not his government’s intention to demolish Saint Jude. But then even counterfeit rebels must have a cause—however reminiscent of Don Quixote!