As the year 2018 draws to a close, many of us here in Antigua and Barbuda will naturally take a look back, even as we look forward. In that spirit, we here at NEWSCO will take a backward glance at some of the highlights and lowlights of 2018. Let us begin by saying that there was much that so many of us could have done that we left undone. We may yet regret those sins of omission. After all, those missed opportunities to do something meaningful and lasting for our fair state may never present themselves again. Conversely, many of us are guilty of sins of commission – so many ways in which we ‘purged our consciences’ and did that which we ought not to have done.
Again, we are hoping that God, in His infinite wisdom and mercy, will grant us an opportunity for a ‘do-over.’ Never mind that in life, there are seldom ‘doovers.’ It is with this in mind that we felt compelled to share Celine Dion’s soulful, retrospective and hopeful classic, HAPPY CHRISTMAS (WAR IS OVER): “So this is Christmas / And what have you done / Another year over / And a new one just begun . . . A very merry Christmas / And a happy New Year / Let’s hope it’s a good one / Without any fear / And so this is Christmas /For weak and for strong / For rich and the poor ones / The war is so long / And so happy Christmas / For black and for white / For yellow and red ones / Let’s stop all the fight . . .” Hmmmm! Would to God that 2019 will be the kind of year in which we do that which is right! That which is right by our fellowmen and by our dear ‘Dadli’. T
o say that 2018 was a challenging year is putting it mildly. Of course, it began on a jubilant note with the triumphant return of Team Antigua from the 3000-mile trans-Atlantic Talisker Whiskey Challenge. Yes, the team of Eli Fuller, John Watt, Nico Pshoyos and Scott Potter captured our hearts and our imagination when they braved every possible danger at sea and placed second to the Four Oarsmen after a harrowing 30 days. Our hearts burst with pride as the boys raised their fists and scrambled ashore at the Nelson’s Dockyard.
Indeed, we submit that in those giddy celebratory hours after their return, there were few dry eyes in the massive welcoming throng, and the prevailing sentiment was that “Antigua large out dey!” And that there really was nothing that we could not do, especially if we worked together as a unified people! In keeping with that thinking, an amazing group of young girls – Kevinia Francis, Christal Clashing, Elvira Bell, Junella King and Samara Emmanuel, aka Team Antigua Island Girls, took up the self-same cross-Atlantic challenge and departed the Canary Islands this past December 12, retracing the steps of Team Wadadli, Team Antigua, and of course, millions of our unfortunate ancestors.
We have been following their progress, and we certainly wish them all the very best! After all, their success is our success, and we will garner much inspiration and that ‘can-do’ spirit from their journey! All hail Team Antigua Island Girls! They are in our fondest thoughts and prayers. Of course, there were other highlights in the past year, not least of which was the way in which the ordinary men and women of our fair state rejected the hasty, one-sided and patronising attempt to bully-rag citizens into voting for an amendment to our constitution that would pave the way for our embrace of the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) as our apex court. Naturally, there were many men and women of good will who were dismayed at the pro-CCJ proponent’s tactics and methods, and the rejection of the proposal on November 6 was seen as an opportunity lost to further our independence and embrace our own. For them it was a lowlight.
Another highlight was Prime Minister Gaston Browne’s decriminalisationof-marijuana effort as well as his progressive moves to make amends to the Rastafarian community for years of abuse and brutality. The provision for the sacramental, medicinal and scientific use of cannabis is also commendable. Interestingly, OBSERVER media and its new incarnation, NEWSCO, made the news as a highlight of 2018. Seems, notwithstanding the formidable forces arrayed against free and independent media here in our fair state, and never mind the machinations of those would fain padlock the doors, a group of patriotic and indomitable citizens came together in a most remarkable way to save the infant media house.
Again, all hail those courageous Antiguans and Barbudans who did that which was right by our fair and blessed country. Long live NEWSCO! Ironically, another highlight of 2018 (at least for that party’s supporters) was the re-election of the Antigua and Barbuda Labour Party, a goodly number of whose members often spoke wistfully of shuttering the Observer and cornering the media market. Mercifully, their wishful thinking and shenanigans were confounded! And now for the lowlights of 2018: Gosh, darn! Where do we begin? Friars Hill Road? The deteriorating industrial and business climate? The back pay/pension mess? The groundbreakings that never amounted to much? Seems we could go on and on and on with a recitation of lowlights, but that would be superfluous. Really no point in rehashing the litany of . . .er, well headscratching stories coming out of 2018.
Antiguans and Barbudans are all too familiar with them. In any event, we certainly trust that we are using those failures and the sins of omission and commission as stepping-stones to success! In that regard, we believe that a paraphrased line from Sparrow’s SCHOOLDAYS is apropos, “Friends, Romans, countrymen, the world is a stage / To do (right by the Barbudans, right by state media workers, and so on and so forth) or not to do, that is the question.” We certainly urge the authorities to do right!