Happy 50th Independence anniversary T&T! August 31 and the year 1962, are such very important dates that I would never forget either, regardless of whatever happens for the rest of my life. Having seen that list of T&T legends nominated to celebrate the event, and not at all knowing the full criteria for qualification to this list, I still have to ask: What is wrong with this list anyway? Where exactly is the real objectivity in the selections of such personnel? I am sure that I would not be alone in suggesting that 1962 was Guyana’s worst year ever, even after recent events of many killings in the mining town of Linden (former Mc Kenzie/Wismar/Christianburg). Outright racism that had been festering in the country like it is right now, came to full ripeness with riots, destruction, looting and killings that has not been seen before or since. Recent situations in Linden do not come close to 1962. Even the British army had to intervene. It was that bad! “Black Friday”, February 16, 1962, all businesses in Water, Camp, and Regent Streets were looted then burnt to the ground. Georgetown was fully Armageddon. Imagination cannot bring that destruction.
The 1990’s Bosnia or Syria now has nothing on Guyana. Our “Dear Land of Guyana, of rivers and plains, made rich by sunshine and lush by rains,” descended into full anarchy. Indo and Afro Guyanese fought to the literal death from Mahaica, Buxton and Annandale, all the way to Georgetown. Hundreds died! I remember vividly seeing some almost impossible events, one man transporting home a refrigerator as large as any I have seen to this day, on his bicycle after he and his friends had looted Bookers Stores. Stafford, my now deceased, extremely tough brother, who was then in SSU (Guyana Police Force’s Special Services Unit) actually threw live tear-gas canisters at my feet and many others’ feet too, on Regent Street, after warning me to “go home”. For a nine-year-old, that was real excitement, believe me. On a much nicer note, August 31, 1992, I was married for the last time. Yes, I fully celebrated T&T’s 30th anniversary with a “Trini”. Her name, Gail. Extra prima good! Shannon, our progeny, was 23 last week. Even better still! To T&T’s 50th Independence “Sports Legends” list: Where are Austin “Jack” Warner, Dr Iva Gloudon, Cleopatra Borel, Prince Bartholemew, Jack Noriega, Ria Ramnarine, Leslie Stewart, Claude Noel? On careful inspection, the entire selection even seems quite male-centred.
I am pleased that Merrick “Jim” Anatol is included for basketball, coaching and management skills. What of Macsoud Mohammed and his father, who have kept T&T’s volleyball alive for 25 years? Where are Ramnarine, Noel and “Tiger” Stewart, all of whom were world boxing champions? Where is Borel, who carried the lone torch for field events for T&T for the last ten years or so, until recent London Olympics gold medal winner, Keshorn Walcott, who is included? It is always difficult to complete such assignments, but much of this selection makes no sense at all. Firstly, the selection committee was wrongly assembled. How could anyone who could be considered as Sedley Joseph and Sandra Charles-Montano were and thusly included, be selectors? Do not get me wrong here. Joseph, one of T&T’s best footballers, and captains ever, deserves his place on the list but being on the selection team turns objectivity into subjectivity, clouding the real issues. Similarly, would anyone expect Charles-Montano not to vote for herself, even if she also deserves to be nominated? Where is her teammate, Dr Gloudon, T&T’s present High Commissioner to Jamaica?
Dr Gloudon’s omission confuses. Her old “boss”, Dr Bhoe Tiwarie, now Minister of Planning and Sustainable Development, who convened this committee, was “Gran Poobah” at the University of the West Indies (UWI) in St Augustine when she led a team, including me as facility manager, to perform a miracle, the UWI Sports & Physical Education Centre (UWISPEC), which featured in ICC World Cup 2007, still T&T’s best sports arena. Strange! Dr G is a “hard” lady but her administrative skills always got things done, not to mention abilities as a T&T hockey player, and one who afterwards featured in getting many scholarships for others abroad. Alvin Corneal justifies inclusion, for his football and cricket skills as does Willie Rodriguez, one of only two—with Jamaica’s Dr Jerry Alexander—who played for West Indies teams at both cricket and football. Where is that guy who was “Always a Prince, but never a king”, fast bowling allrounder Bartholemew, who like opener Richard De Souza, just missed playing for West Indies? Bartholomew gave decades of service to his country. Sadly, he has now lost his legs, literally, to diabetes. I wonder what exactly one really has to do to get on this list! Finally, madness! T&T World Cup 2006 squad is included but not Warner. This is a full travesty. Regardless of what anyone thinks, there would be no “Soca Warriors 2006” without Warner! Still enjoy!