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Thursday, October 6, 2011


"A calypsonian singing a verse about a politician or asking an audience to vote for him does not tarnish our image; but a violent response resulting in the beating of the calypsonian and going as far as threatening to drown him in a pool can do untold damage to our reputation as a people."

Papa Vader in his rationalisation of the Blotje debacle which took place in Choiseul village last weekend reminded me of former Dominican pace bowler, the late Grayson Shillingford who (it is said) destroyed the cricketing career of arguably St. Lucia’s most graceful and "correct" batsman. Perhaps, St. lucia knows that when it comes to calypso, Papa Vader is equally good in “pace” and “spin” versions of the art form. And it is in this context I am trying to determine the speed of the delivery he pitched up to Gilo which once again exposed this graceful cricketer’s vulnerability.

Gilo’s (aka Pippin) real name is Dedan Griffith Jn Baptise and he was not only a master batsman with glimpses of the vintage grace of Lawrence Row and Carl Hooper, but he was also a pole-vaulter who held the national record for number of years.  

Because of his contributions, I will concede that Gilo is arguably in the tradition of the Anthony’s/Barnards of Piaye/Saltibus; the Kings of La Pointe, the Lafeuillees of Le Riche, the Leons of Choiseul Village, the St Roses of Reunion, the Theophilus’s of Cafeiere and Dugard (among many others), who have made us proud because their intellectual, educational and economic achievements and their relative impact on the image and reputation of the village.

But unlike a widespread perception that those “great Families” have maintained a trajectory of excellence over time and they have continued to increase the net worth of their fishing village, there’s a view that Gilo has not capitalized on the foundation that he built. There seems to be much consensus in the “Village” that he may have frittered away his own legacy.

What are the reasons for the perception of Gilo? Choiseulians are perhaps not happy with what they see today. They see a Samarian, a national cricketer, a record-breaking pole-vaulter, a multi-talented musician, a schoolteacher etc cutting grass along the Balembouche Stretch for a living. Is that the best way to honour a great Choiseulian who has made his mark on the national landscape?

Has our beloved “Pippin” been turned into another David Murray, Richard Austin, Bernard Julien and Herbert Chang who like him played cricket for the their countries and the West Indies? Is there an attempt to orchestrate Mr Jn Baptiste irreversible decrement?

Whatever it is, we will always be proud of Gilo for his historically great contribution to sports, music and education; and we will ensure that he is permanently engraved in our Hall of Fame, just as he is engraved in our minds, for those contributions.

Having said all of the above, I now wish to offer a word of advice to him. Gilo (like Papa) writes and produces calypso music and it is against that background that I am disappointed with his support for the “bludgeoning” of the Papa because he sang a verse about “Lorne” during the first night of BLOTJÉ Music Festival.

As an ex-national cricketer and former cricket coach, I’m sure upon hindsight and introspection, he understood that was an injudicious shot – perhaps far worse than Vader’s - to carelessly “flash outside the off stamp at a wide ball” or “play across the line” to a Grayson Shillingford-type “Yorker” which brought the curtains down his cricketing stint. Those “shots” looked  even uglier when they were replayed in slow motion on the wide TV screen.

The fact that we are in the silly season does not justify the wanton politicization of community events or projects, especially in the way that Bousquet has been doing it. Bousquet has politicized every community project that has happened during his reign (like the Mongouge multipurpose Center reconstruction projects, the Lamaz Road project, the Bois d’Inde Road project), the Village council, the Common Entrance “academic awards”, the ti-Canal projects, and he has even made attempts to politicize the youth movement). The politicization is so profound in some cases that it sometimes results in polarization and even victimization of certain communities, especially those communities where he perceives that he has little or no support. 

It is against that background that we affirm that – even if Papa Vader’s action may have been unjustified - the retribution against Papa Vader was untenable; and for the record, we wish to totally condemn the orchestrated violence against him.

We do not approve of UWP individuals “invading a stage grabbing onto Invader, grabbing the mic out of his hand and holding him upside down ready to throw him into the pond”. And that “he was saved only by a Labour supporter who came to his rescue; but he was released only after he was given a good and satisfying PLUCK.”

We believe the endorsement of that violence was regrettable. We are particularly concerned about the intention to throw Papa into the pond; to us, that was tantamount to an act of attempted murder by drowning.

This incident has provided us with an opportunity to read the “riot act” to the thugs.

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