It was quite heartening to hear that our Minister of Housing, Lands and Urban Renewal, and Minister of State in the Ministry of Legal Affairs, and the better half (we’re being cheeky) of the Bird Browne power union, Honorable Maria Bird Browne, was the recipient of the ‘legum baccalaureus’ (Latin, denoting ‘Bachelor of Laws’), LLb (Hons). It is our understanding that our Prime Minister, the Honorable Gaston Browne, was on hand at the graduation exercises in the United Kingdom yesterday. We can imagine that he is enormously proud of his wife, as are we. After all, her success is our success, because, according to John Donne, we are all connected. We certainly subscribe to Donne’s beautiful articulation of the notion that “No man is an island entire unto itself.” So when the bell tolls for those who are mourning, rest assured that it is also tolling for us, and by the same token, when it peals out glad tidings of great joy for one of our own, it is heralding glad tidings for us. We rejoice with those who rejoice! Notwithstanding our political and philosophical differences, at the end of the day (as her husband is so very fond of saying, we are all Antiguans and Barbudans.
Of course, we are hoping that MP Bird Browne will view this milestone as an opportunity to step out of her husband’s shadow and come into her own. She is the scion of a political family not known to be shrinking violets or potted plants, and from the reports of some who know her, she is a bright young woman. Nonetheless, whether the good Minister of Housing will be able to take independent and principled positions on the many vexing issues facing our nation is still anyone’s guess. Remember, our PM, her husband, has developed a reputation for brooking little or no dissent. It is his way or the highway (see Teco Lake, Alincia Williams-Grant, MP Michael Browne and the many others who were not-so-politely put in their places after daring to have political ambitions and independent thoughts)! He has said in no uncertain terms that he is the ‘Top Dog’ and that when he puts his signature on something, it becomes policy. Sparrow’s SOLOMON sums up our good PM’s thinking on the matter of dissent thusly, “This land is mine, I am the boss / Who like it fine, who vex get lorse! . . . I am going to do what I feel to do, and I don’t care who get vex or who feel blue . . . What I say goes, and no damn dog dare bark . . .!” Ouch! Good grief!
Again, we are not sure how any of this ‘Monarch-of-all-he-surveys-ism’ plays out in the husband and wife dynamic. What we do know is that our good PM does not suffer those he considers fools gladly, and his summary dismissal of MP Michael Browne’s . . . er, . . . ‘dissertation’ that articulated his (Michael Browne’s) concerns over the Global Ports agreement is proof positive of that. Indeed, the caustic manner in which our PM belittled the good Minister of Education as “an intellectual novice on matters of high finance” with a magnum opus that “Makes no sense,” is still actually quite funny, if it were not so sad. So sad that the good Minister of Education was asked to withdraw his dissenting piece! And worse, that he did it with much genuflection and apologizing . . . and a smile and a strange look of serenity on his visage. Sigh! Michael Browne, thy name is jello! Jimmy Swaggart has nothing on you when it comes to apologizing for sinning. And what, pray tell, is thy sin? That of daring to think!
Clearly, many in our fair state have come to the conclusion that when our good PM wants someone’s opinion, he provides the person with the opinion. In that regard, we here at NEWSCO are gently suggesting to our good Cabinet members, not to bother thinking independently on the great issues. You will get a headache. If there is any thinking to be done, the PM will do the thinking for you!
Be all that as it may, we are hoping that MP Maria Bird Browne, LLB, and the new generation of parliamentarians will not merely be rubber stamps. We are also hoping that now that her studies are out of the way, she will address the National Housing morass with new energy and visionary leadership. Hers are important portfolios, and lackluster management will not suffice. We are rooting for her to rise to the occasion and distinguish herself. Look, there are many young Antiguans and Barbudans who will be inspired by her academic accomplishment. We suggest that her performance in office could also be a source of great motivation.
Once again, we salute the Honorable Maria Bird Browne on the successful completion of her studies. And not Maria Bird Browne alone, because there are so many of our brothers and sisters who have done wondrously in academia this year, and we congratulate them as well. Here’s trusting that your success will trickle down to us here in this bit of paradise. Your expertise and knowledge will go a long way towards our betterment. Having said that, we offer up this Irish blessing, “May the road ever rise to meet you, and may the wind be ever at your backs!” Well, actually, we take a part of that back. The caveat is that the Friars Hill Road, the Sir George Walter Highway and the National Housing roads and other infrastructure will never rise to meet you, at least, not at the pace at which they are being worked on. We believe that MP Maria Bird Browne has had some thoughts on that. Yes, she did share her biting response to the “good minister of Works” on that matter. (We’re being facetious, but you get the idea).
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