Peace on earth and goodwill toward men

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The scriptures are very clear. We’re talking about the blessed proclamation in Luke 2:13-14, “And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest and on earth, peace goodwill toward men.” It is the need of the hour. It is the hope of the ages! Peace and goodwill.

Of course, we’re trusting that there will be more comity and goodwill between the regional leaders in this new year, 2021. Notwithstanding their happy talk of ‘comrade’ and what-have-you, there was no denying that the relationship between them was frosty, at best. For example, only a ‘frenemy’ would darkly proclaim of the effort to resuscitate LIAT, words to the effect, “He better come good,” as was said by Dr Ralph Gonsalves of our prime minister’s efforts. Similarly, our PM has been variously aggressive, threatening and dismissive of the regional leaders that have not exactly seen eye-to-eye with him. And yes, we cannot forget how the S Kitts Nevis leaders chortled at our government and its inability to give us a stimulus, even as they were giving out stimuli, left, right and centre. The Kittitians chalked it up to their good stewardship of the country’s finances. The unspoken message was that our government has been exceedingly slack and profligate, while they have conducted the affairs in Basseterre judiciously. Never mind our government’s bombast and braggadocio, it is a safe bet that not one single solitary government in the region is impressed by ours. We believe that they snicker and guffaw behind our government’s back. Hopefully, this snickering and back-biting will be a thing of the past, come 2021.

On the home front, we are hoping that the apparent adversarial relationship between workers and this bellicose administration will come to an end. This administration touts itself as the inheritors of the V.C. Bird legacy, but its actions are anathema to every blessed thing that Sir V.C. stood for. He is not resting easy! This administration has “Pulled up the ancient landmarks which the fathers have set” [Proverbs 22:28], wilfully and wantonly straying ‘far from the path of righteousness.’ May the administration soon find its way so that workers can get a fair shake. We’re talking peace and goodwill, folks. We’re talking the glorious chorus of the multitude of the heavenly host!

Meanwhile, here’s also praying that the neighbourly and brotherly love, of which spake the scriptures, will flourish here in the wider community of Antigua and Barbuda. The truth is that we have too often harked and barked at each other over petty differences. Are not the things that unite us of infinitely more importance than the silly, trivial things that divide yes? Folks, we are stronger together! If any one of us dies, a part of all of us dies as well. Those are the profound words of John Donne in NO MAN IS AN ISLAND. We need each other. We are kindred spirits!

Consider if you will, the sad news that broke yesterday – that Vere ‘Fumanchu’ Christian, he of the popular basketball team, Lolita’s Golden Stars, back in the day, has transitioned to his eternal reward. Fumanchu, the son of one of our greatest pannists ever, Art ‘Bum’ Jardine of Brute Force fame, was one of our most stylish and prolific basketball scorers. He could dribble, was blessed with great ball-handling skills, and had a knack for converting at, or beyond, the rim. This writer’s recollection was that he was the star on the Golden Stars team that included such greats as Herb-I Carbon, Jomo Carbon, Lindy and Clarke Burton, Drinkwater, and others. He was also an idealistic young man who loved Antigua and Barbuda dearly; he hated injustice and the deprivation that he saw among his people, especially in the Point, a neighbourhood that was near and dear to his heart. He wanted a betterment for all Antiguans and Barbudans; he wanted a more egalitarian society. It was for that reason that he joined the Antigua Caribbean Liberation Movement (ACLM).

Alvette ‘Ellorton’ Jeffers, a guest columnist here with THE DAILY OBSERVER, and an alumni of THE OUTLET, writes the following of his former colleague in the early days of the ACLM: “Fumanchu lived his life courageously. Not many people knew him as I did.  For the last 19 years of my visits to Antigua, we spent every Saturday together, along with Glen Samuels (Allah, another card-carrying ACLM-ite). He was never subservient, and he always stood firmly in his truth.” Indeed!

In more recent times, he aligned himself with the Gaston Browne-led Antigua Barbuda Labour Party (ABLP), as an ardent and vociferous apologist and supporter. He was actually quite a divisive figure, what with some of his frequent pro-Gaston utterances on local radio, even on our very own OBSERVER radio, a station that he often denigrated. But that did nothing to ruin the friendship and respect that this writer, and others here, had for Fumanchu. Notwithstanding our differing political persuasions, the thing that united us was our deep and abiding love for Antigua and Barbuda, and our desire to see it move forward. We merely had differing visions as to how that forward progress could be achieved. May the soul of our dearly departed Vere ‘Fumanchu’ Christian rest in eternal peace.

Actually, at this time when we are talking about a more amicable and peaceable relationship in the body politic in 2021, perhaps the lessons from Fumanchu’s life and legacy are instructive.  You see, Fumanchu was not afraid of calling out the Gaston Browne administration when he felt that it was not treating the people fairly, or doing the right thing. One of his favourite expressions was, “Wrong ah wrong; and right a right! Wrong cyant be right!” Amen! May we be as fair and as forthright as Fumanchu in proclaiming peace and goodwill and justice and equal rights for all.

We here at NEWSCO extend our heartfelt sympathies to his dear wife of 20 years, and the rest of his grief-stricken family. May the good Lord provide them with some measure of comfort.

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