Now that former Pakistani superstar cricketer, Imran Khan, has returned as a bigger star on his country’s stage, I thought that the field is open for a delightful straight drive all the way over the top of the Guyanese political scoreboard. Casting about for some iconic national cricketing names, I stumbled from the slips and backward square, and was forced to seek the refuge of extra cover to ponder. This is how I scored.
Almost all, if not all, of the great Guyanese sporting figures of old would be ineligible for selection: residency requirements. Today, they are Guyanese by birth only. Down goes Kanhai, down goes Lloyd, down goes Gibbs and Croft and the rest of that once glorious pantheon. If that sounds a little like Howard Cosell from Madison Square Garden from the boxing immortality of Ali-Frazier, I assure one and all that it is. The problem is that, unlike Ali, no cricketer is left standing. A pity it is, but I must move along. Who else is there?
First there was Charles, then Gail, and now Anthony (not to be confused with Mark of Roman oratorical fame). Then out of nowhere, there was that golden oldie, the long-disappeared act, who had self-adoringly engaged in the still unparalleled announcement of being a candidate through the unforgettable “goat aint bite me!” I am figuring out his return to the circus (that it is) of public conversation and public writing as less of a signal and more of a haunting, as in premonition. Aspiring to the presidency of Guyana does strange things to even stranger people in what is already the strangest of places. Strange ideas flourish: what about one of those great local songbirds? One of those crooners and swingers from the golden age of Guyanese melodies? Thus, I came up with a once-in-a-lifetime epiphanic moments: The one, the only, the unbeatable Johnny for prezzie!
I must be really getting thick(er) in the head; how could that name, that presence, that grand son of this soil eluded so long and so many? Johnny Braff it is! Johnny Braff it has to be! He qualifies on numerous fronts: age -he has seen all the different domestic seasons: from the skyline of that long ago penthouse by Stabroek to the rock bottom of the highways and byways and everything in between. Nothing and no one can take his place. I trust that he will be presidential enough and pardon the plagiarism of part of a line from one of his evergreens. Where I come from even that can trigger litigation for copyright infringement. But I meander.
Here is a man that can truly say of Guyana and for Guyana that it burns inside. Naturally, humorless competitors seeking any edge in the race for presidency may protest that this is not talk of love, but of votes; and even more so when ballots are secret. Johnny can be trusted; the other Jay is not to be. Johnny B can make this nation proud and help it dismiss the mighty New York Times and that off-key character Krauss. This Guyanese is proof that the air here is sweet and salubrious, unlike the smoke shroud that is California; the food is fresh from the falls and not fresh frozen as in New York. Some apple that is; I invite trying of pineapples, mangoes, and oranges. This is the stuff of legends and the breakfast of presidents. Just ask Johnny as to the secret of his longevity and it is all right here.
President-in-waiting Braff knows what it is like to work with different teams. Just listen to those accompanying ensembles from his early days. Earl Hines or the Nat King Cole Trio they are not. Johnny worked the crowds and carried them (along with his bands of brothers) with a piercing emotionalism that would have made Otis Redding proud. For all these reasons, Johnny Braff is the man. He has it all: durability, credibility, and harmony that the voters of this tone-deaf society need. I can see it already: one great revivalist sing-along. No more showers of tears. Go, Johnny, go!