Date First Published February 28, 1990

The Small Businessman

HERMON Bholaisingh (43), is a tailor who comes from a family of tailors. He says he was ‘born’ in the trade and remembers helping his father in the ‘family business’ from as early as he can recall.

Today Hermon con­centrates strictly on the altering of ladies and gents garments. He has his ‘Altering Shop’ at 5/6 Lombard Street, Georgetown.

The businessman, known by his many customers as ‘Beard- man’, says he turned to what he called ‘general altering’ of all ‘types’ and ‘makes’ of clothes since return­ing from an overseas trip to North Am­erica three years ago.

On that sojourn, Her­mon said, he observed: the heavy amount of ‘gift barrels’ being sent here to people by their relatives residing abroad.

It then occurred to him that many of these people had not seen their family for years and could not be in a proper position to de­termine their relatives ‘fit’. Pondering on this, he said, he switched from his small ‘cut and stitch’ job to adjusting of clothes. Some pieces of cloth­ing are also too small and where identical material could be found, the necessary expansion to the gar­ment is done, the tradesman explained. With three uncles and his father active in the business of making garments like pants, shirts and suits, Her­mon recalled a disaster the family suffered in 1962, when their busi­ness at the same loca­tion where he is now was gutted by fire of unknown origin. With the help of some other members of the family a small business was re­established there shortly after the fire.

‘Beardman’ says his customers are varied and include profes­sional people. He has no fixed price for any job. He says he tries to meet people’s pockets. And for his Regulars’ some minor jobs are even done free.

In his business he is assisted by his son Richard, 16, who is to be his successor. Her­mon claims his health is failing him and he may opt out anytime. The tailor/alterer says business is fair and with the high cost of material these days many people are opt­ing for the altering of both old and new clothes. There is a slump in the tailoring business which he at­tributes to our present economic adversity.

Hermon suffers from frequent power out­ages, but to please cus­tomers and keep dead­lines he works any hour.


People’s Parade

IT is ironic that the People’s Parade, which to almost all its participants represents a form of coercion should have been renamed after a man who sacrificed a large part of his adult life for the concepts of freedom and demo­cracy.

The People’s Parade was the product of another, authoritarian era when it was used to turn out government workers in a faked show of support for the regime. It symbolised the worst elements of a now discredited ideology and has no counterpart, for example, in our Caricom sister countries. We hope it will not be continued.


The Captain’s Gaffe

By Ian McDonald

IT IS disturbing to read that Viv Richards has identified the West Indian cricket team as an African team. After all, this is no eccentric zealot who is speaking. He is Captain of us all, his team is the team of all West Indians of whatever ancestry. The statement is therefore bound to cause all sorts of misunderstandings and generate untold ill-will. It is just the sort of misconceived and divisive comment which a Captain of the West Indies might have been expected to avoid like the plague. More in sorrow than in anger, but firmly all the same, the West Indies Board of Control should ask the Captain to confirm that he was mis-quoted or to say he mis-spoke.

To be exact, the Captain of the West Indies is reported to have made the following statement:

“If you look at the West Indies cricket team, it is the only sporting team of African descent that has been able to win repeatedly against all international oppon- bringing joy and re­cognition to our peo­ple .. . Let us place emphasis on the sport that has made us.”

We should be prepared, indeed we should he anxious, to find ex­cuses for this gaffe by the Captain. We can note, for instance, that the members of the cur­rent first team are in­deed all of African descent (though Dujon’s ancestry is surely not quite so cut and dried) and this tempo­rary fact may well have momentarily coloured and narrowed the Cap­tain’s vision. Also, the evident pride of achievement in Rich­ards’ boast of beating all the world is hu­man and understand­able and should not be judged at all harshly. Finally, the comment can perhaps be viewed at stemming partly from the euphoria of a month which saw the release, at last, from prison of the great African leader. Nelson Mandela. Let us make all the allow­ances we can. But even then the statement re­mains objectionable. Surely, only dignified retraction can serve to erase the damage done.

There are three main reasons why the state­ment is profoundly mis­guided.

ONE the statement ignores the long his­tory of West Indian cricket and neglects the contribution of some of our greatest cricketing heroes. Where does the great Challenor fit in, where the Fernandes and the Wights and the Christianis and the Grants and all the others. And even if you consider that West Indian cricket really be­gan only after the Sec­ond World War where do the Stollmeyers fit in and Bruce Pairadeau and John Goddard and the Atkinsons and Gerry Gomez and Steve Camacho?

And what place does Richards reserve for the little spin master Ramadhin? Must we forget that famous picture of Joe Solomon throwing down the last Austral­ian wicket in the Tied Test at Brisbane?

And what of Larry Gomes, for so long stalwart in the middle order? And what niche, tell me, is there in this team of African descent for Rohan Babulall Kanhai, one of the three or four great­est batsmen who ever lived? In Valhalla C.L.R. James will cer­tainly be frowning.

TWO, the statement signals most insensitive­ly that only those of African descent need apply to the first West Indian team. Where, for instance, does the Cap­tain’s statement leave dozens of brilliant play­ers in the region not of African descent?

Where, indeed, does it leave those players not of African descent who are already playing in the West Indian B and Youth teams?

THREE, and most im­portantly, the state­ment undermines the foundation of a West Indian nation being painstakingly built on a non-racial basis. Cricket up to now is the great definer of our West Indian nation­hood. Read C.L.R. James if you want to know more about this.

When you introduce racial exclusivity into the West Indian cricket team you automatical­ly raise fears of racial exclusivity in a future West Indian nation. Approximately 25 per cent of our people are Indo-West Indians. A further significant per­centage are neither the one nor the other. How can all of these, even with the best will in the world, be expect­ed not to resent, much less identify with, the Captain’s ill-advised comment?

Perhaps as a minor­ity member of the West Indian nation I am reacting over-sensitively, but I don’t think so. One rule this hard world teaches: be ever alert to scotch the smallest wriggler lest from its loins spring nests of serpents. I do not wish the fervour of my support for the West Indies team, which is extreme, or the fervour of nearly a third of all West Indians, to be in the slightest vitiated by an ill-considered, per­haps off-the-cuff, re­mark.

I do not think I am exaggerating the im­portance of this issue. Cricket is that import­ant to all of us West Indians. The Captain of the West Indies cricket team is, in a very real sense, infinite­ly more important than any politician in the re­gion. Tread carefully, therefore, Captain of us all, lest you tread on our soul.

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