The band! The girls! 25 years (FS) today!

Who really cares about Mashramani?

This might just be (the use of elements of) irony if this column turns out to be one of the most brief ones in a long time.

You see, dear friends, the publisher, the editor-in-chief and you have combined to allow Stabroek News to accommodate this column for twenty-five (25) years!

Yes, friends, today marks 25 years since this offering first appeared on the last Friday in January of 1993. So bear with me as I ask for a marching band, I’m already blowing and blasting away on the – my own – trumpet. I ask too for a few dancing girls to herald and adorn this anniversary today.

For years I’ve let it be known that I’ve never benefited from tertiary education. So I claim no profundity; no ability in terms of scientific analyses; no intellectual depth nor mastery of the social sciences. But I had the good fortune of being a village – school teacher, writer of supplementary school-books, participant in communications and public relations courses – locally and far away overseas. And believe it or not, although never able to abandon humble, very challenging working-class beginnings, somehow I promoted local folklore culture whilst managing to become a politically-exposed person! A PEP!

Sympathy? Doreen, David, start-up

Three Fridays ago a respected judicial official suggested that I combine many of my own diverse pieces to publish as “Frankly Speaking” – the Man-In-The-Street Column. He opined that I’ll notice how I developed, evolved, matured over the quarter-of-a-century, worth a thought?

But how did this first happen 25 years ago? How did this Friday exercise become the only real discipline in my ordinary non-dramatic life?

It started with the defeat of the People’s National Congress (PNC) at elections in October 1992. And it had to do – significantly – with the dry, witty humour of then General Manager Doreen deCaires.

Those now-historic elections of ‘92 saw me heading the PNC’s Campaign Public Relations/Electioneering Support Office for a third time. Of course, the privately owned Stabroek News earned a quite a few million for publishing daily, weekly campaign promotional material for us – the PNC

So after the party lost in those October ’92 Jimmy-Carter elections Mrs deCaires came up to me at a December ‘92 event to mark (I think) Press Freedom Day when Minister Nagamootoo had just engineered the departure of PNC-friendly professionals like Adam Harris and Clem David. She said something like “Fenty boy your PNC lost, but you could still continue writing for Stabroek News.” After advising her that I never really wrote all those PNC 1992 pieces I considered her offer. Partly because – to this day – I loved Mrs deCaires’ brand of humour.

Her husband chose Frankly Speaking in front of Allan, Being Frank. Thus began my journey of uncharacteristic discipline. How do people write every day!? But I’ve faxed these contributions in the old days, from Port of Spain, Moscow and the USA. Never missing except when there was a newsprint shortage or work-related problems.

This sentence summarises what I feel about this weekly contribution: from a man-in-the-street-and-market perspective, but informed by experiences from teaching, politics and some creative endeavours, I have provoked further, indepth commentary and opinion from others.  I also reserve(d) the right to be a trifle hurt when more recognition was/is given to the more-lettered and more socially/politically- prominent, even though I was the first with certain issues. Boo-hoo! But happy anniversary to me and this space and thank you Stabroek News.

Mashramani – for whom?

This is my introductory thought on this issue. There is a relatively new team from the Department of Culture organising and administering the Mashramani festival of events for this year

From my own 48-year old commitment, patriotism and plain celebratory sentiment, I support most of the calendar of activities announced. One aspect hoped for is the outburst of creative industry -from fashion to literature to craft – manufacture to music and dance. However detractors or the indifferent reject the emphasis on the Mashramani Walk-and-Wine sex-simulation goings-on on the streets. Unfortunately this 23rd February Anniversary Highlight of public gyrations still symbolises all that is Mashramani. When that is not the whole festival!

I’ll return continually to “Mash” as I remind that both Forbes and Cheddi approved 23rd February for a powerful reason. I’ll still beseech Diwali sponsors to contribute. Even as I wager that two prominent personalities will hardly join revelers in costume on any street. Who? Ryhaan Shah and his Excellency the President. The Indian Rights Advocate will offer her routine critique and the President will, most likely, name or re-name something. (Cerebral folks!). Discuss…

Jesus, Egypt – and Beer!

Neither irreverent, sacrilegious nor facetious am I being, when I speculate that had Jesus Christ walked  among us today he might have made beer people like Banks-DIH or ANSA McAl eager to embrace him.

Not because of religion. But for sales of beer! Depending on what you believe about the Son of God’s presence on Earth 2000 years-plus ago, you should be interested to be informed that Jesus and his Disciples allegedly downed a lot of beer!

Now recall that I’m fascinated about Baby and Child Jesus in Egypt. There were very brown original Jews there during His time. Many re-migrated to his native Nazareth in the Galilee area.

During the first quarter of 2016, an Israeli Brewery in Jerusalem used wheat that University geneticists claim was used for beer-brewing in the Holy Land 2000 years ago. But it is a flat, honey-and-berries mixed brew. Today’s beer drinkers would not prefer it. No wonder both Christians and Jews preferred wine.

But the makers of the “Biblical Beer” argue that Jesus and His Egyptian Israelites would have downed quite a few mugs of beer in their time. And was Jesus a vegetarian? Did he eat any fish? Why? Holy or not, Christians and others should really find out more about their Saviour. Right?

Ponder …

I celebrate 25 years of this Column Today. I give thanks for still being around.

‘Til next week!


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