It is time for the annual national awards, GHK Lall style, in recognition of those great citizens who rise above. No one should spoil the solemnities by asking above what or by how much. It is enough to salute publicly these stalwarts who perform what are thankless tasks.
First class honors in the form of the John Paul Getty-John Rockefeller (and John Wayne) prize for oil and gas excellence goes to Mr. Christopher Ram, Chartered Accountant, Attorney-at-Law, investigative oil journalist, local oil drill-down pioneer, oil auditing sleuth, and national oil watchdog without equal all in one. Apologies are extended for those areas of endeavor that elude the memory; nothing personal. Mr. Ram is not just the Blue-Ribbon standard, he is the whole reel. For all the hats that Winston of NICIL notoriety wore, he is bald headed by comparison. This eagle-eyed hawk (yes, he is both and then some) carries around so much in his head and on his chest that there is no space left for any medals from the likes of me. The runners-up in this category are….well, this is a little embarrassing: there are none. Mr. Ram made a clean sweep of all the prizes, including next year’s. Congratulations are extended on the latest academic honour achieved.
Second, (by no means second class) my favorite rag Kaieteur News could no longer be called an out and out newspaper. It is because KN is so crowded with professional columnists that there is hardly space for real news, including the fake variety. For all intents and purposes, this onetime newspaper is now a full-fledged magazine -all colour, and all the rage; it offers so much features that no one could argue about local content. My namesake is one clever businessman; this bro is one marketing pro: deliver the goods. As desired. I encourage him to spend some dollars on hard covers and pages with high gloss. The upside: more sales; with American Airlines on the way, KN-The Magazine-cum newspaper could be marketed as a nice travelling companion; it would be the first daily magazine in the world. For these reasons, to KN goes, with hand on heart, the Hearst award for Choice Journalistic expressions. I encourage enlightened citizens to recall that old Guyanese meaning for “expression” and “choice words.” Well done, folks. I congratulate the publication for its two-fisted, multi-barreled approach to corruption and cleanliness; I encourage also the practicing of what is preached. Like the human petro powerhouse, there is no equal. I would hope that the people at SN are adult enough not to feel insulted, and that they are tough enough to take it on the chin.
Where and who next? I try government first. The Paul Samuelson Prize for economics for ministerial creativity belongs to the Hon. Minister of Business. In a single stroke he succeeded in throwing the whole gold sector under the wheels of the oil express and riling up a battalion of pork-knockers. I trust that “pork-knockers” is still acceptable by decent publications and not offensive. For sheer breadth of vision, the minister cannot be outflanked since he was willing to sacrifice the yellow metal even before the first oil boat had left the docks. One dredge in the bush is worth any two empty tankers in hand. What a character! Small wonder that family and others keep a safe quiet distance., when the flak starts flying.
Fourth, there is the powerful opposition; it has more reach than a full-grown giraffe perched on a tower crane. It sees everything, the opposition that is, and knows all. Nothing happens in this country without its nod of approval. It could be commercial activity, whether in skyscrapers, street level, or underground. That is real power. The opposition is so powerful that government people check in regularly at its parlors. This is unofficial and off-the-books. There is a lot of exchanging, and it is not of ideas. When examined closely, the opposition projects so much influence and power out of office that it is more rewarding to stay out of power. For its members, it is all collecting and no accounting. I call that friends in government, and good governance Guyanese style. There are several awards for such deserving figures. The first is a combination of the six-sigma award and ISO 9000 certification in Good (shadow) Governance. I am not done yet. There is the unprecedented spectacle of 2 former presidents, 1 opposition leader, 1 AG (former) 1 GS (what happened to the other fellow), and 1 bishop competing for space in the print media. This has to be the greatest show on earth. If this continues, I will have to get my own copyrighted letter column; no space for noncitizens. What is appropriate to honour such heroic characters straight out of a Kafka work? I have it: the old British Order of the Garter for distinguished service in the field of clandestine operations relative to corrupt practices. The garter is very expansive, as it can easily accommodate cash-stuffed corpulent politicos.
Last, there is Lall Prize for Literature. I always wanted to write a novel but resist the urge seeing that fiction is monopolized by media contributors. The most I would get is dishonourable mention, as well as disqualified, since even the judges would not understand what I write when I get serious. Of course, this says something very disparaging about the kind of schooling that they had. I regret that there is no award this year: there are no waiting ministerial relatives, or plagiarists, or wordsmiths worthy of consideration, or eligible diaspora entries. I am tempted to test that rule to see how matters would evolve. In all of the hullabaloo, I long for the good old days of grassroots, street corner, wake house lexicographers and orators; those fellows had vocabulary. They reduced Merriam-Webster to looking halting and dense. This should remind of some very public figures in this country. Whoever said that this is not a fun-filled country!