Were there really supporters of the Antigua-Barbuda Labour Party (ABLP) at the picket of the newly-dubbed Ministry of Miseducation, some calling for the investigation, and others for the resignation or removal of the embattled minister, Michael Browne, from that once-proud ministry? Based on eyewitness reports reaching our news desk, there were people of goodwill, people of all party persuasions, standing up for the children of this fair state of ours. It was a watershed moment in our political journey, and one that we certainly encourage here at NEWSCO. We believe that there are men and women in this blessed land who are appalled at the leadership drift, the lack of direction in the various ministries. They are concerned at the lack of an appreciable betterment after nearly five years of this administration. And notwithstanding their previous support of the incumbency, they are now lending their voices to the drumbeat of discontent; there are willing to stand up on principle. Red, orange and blue kool-aid be damned! After all, there are some things of critical importance to our sense of justice, fair play, kinship and progress that transcend party affiliation.
We saw it at the candlelight vigil for Glynton “Punkai” O’Marde a week ago when Antiguans and Barbudans came together to memorialise and grieve the untimely passing of this horseracing and motorcycle-racing enthusiast at the Cassada Gardens Race Track. Punkai burst on the horseracing scene a few years ago and became an instant sensation, fielding many winning horses and injecting new excitement in the Sport of Kings. Needless to say, the vigil for this fallen brother was quite impressive, and it was made all the more remarkable by the fact that party politics was left at the entrance to the grounds.
The same can be said of the WALK FOR RALSTON OTTO, one of our very best cricketers ever. In fact, it was none other than the great Sir Richie Richardson, a contemporary of Otto’s, who declared in a moving speech at the culmination of the walk that “Ralston was the best cricketer never to have played for the West Indies.” And the assembled throng nodded and cheered and applauded in approbation. Again, one of the interesting aspects of the march was the sight of senators, government officials and other Antiguans and Barbudans of differing political stripes coming together for a cause greater than themselves or their party.
And let us not forget the Sir Andy Roberts Community Development Foundation event last Sunday in Bolans. Black and white were seen hugging up tight – as were blue, red and orange, in the very essence of people coming together and embracing and helping our communities.
Neither will we ever forget how proud we felt to be Antiguans and Barbudans rather than ABLP or UPP or DNA when TEAM ANTIGUA ISLAND GIRLS berthed at the Dockyard this past Monday. We witnessed an outpouring of brotherly and sisterly love, such as has not been seen in our bit of paradise in a long time, and much like the Apostle Paul we say “Let brotherly love continue!” This was essentially what Winston Derrick, one of our great founders, was all about. The idea of our oneness and country above party was what motivated him. And on the Sixth Anniversary of his sad and untimely passing, we salute him and bequeath his vision to all Antiguans and Barbudans. Needless to say, NEWSCO is keeping that vision alive!
Of course, life would go by in a blur and lose much of its meaning were it not for moments and events like these. In the spirit of Winston we suggest that people ought to stand up for that in which they steadfastly believe – without taking into consideration the political party context. And of course, we subscribe to the notion and maxim that “On matters of principle, unlike matters of policy, there can be no compromise” . . . because of petty partisanship. Away with that foolishness, my brothers and sisters! “Si se puede!” (Spanish, “Yes we can!”) It can be! Let it be! Winston Derrick lives!