Fail or Prevail? The Choice Is Yours
By N Oji Mzilikazi
(Originally published in Montreal Community Contact Volume 21, Number 13)
June 23, 2011
Sometimes I feel like
Throwing my hands up in the air
Sometimes I feel like saying
Lord I just don’t care
But you’ve got the love I need
To see me through.
The Source ft. Candi Staton – You Got The Love
Lately, I’ve been encountering folks close to the edge, verily on the verge of losing faith. I’m talking about ordinary people contended to be merely the Indians as opposed to being chiefs. They aren’t heroes. Don’t even want to be.
In fact, they’ll be the first to hightail it if or when things get outta hand. They are the people who go say dey eh see, but is the first ones to talk ’bout what dey aint see. Dey so mauvais-langue, sometimes ah man does have to ask dem if dey have court clothes. Whey yuh go do? Yuh cah get vex with dem. Actually yuh could, but I cah get vex. Dem is my people.
Dey happy to be rum-shop politicians. A lil drink in their head, and they can analyse and solve all the problems in the world. As de old folks does say, “Sense make before book.” “If yuh give Jim he gym boots and Jack he jacket, yuh must give Bagwansingh he bag.” So while no big highfalutin words does come out ah deh mouth, just plenty cuss, one has to respect the sense dey does make when dey making sense. And right now dey making plenty sense.
They feel betrayed, and by everybody. They expect their betters – those who went to “grammar” school and “big” school and have title and position to their name would do a better job in protecting and serving the community.
As much as I try to explain to them, that as ideal as those things are, the bottom line is reality and human nature can play havoc with principles, honour and integrity. People are by nature selfish and greedy, and when the complexity and politics of leadership meets greed, ideological backwardness and political blindness, pure ineffectiveness and commess is the result, dey doh get it.
I can empathise with them. God knows I’ve been down the road of frustration and bitterness over community apathy and traitorous leadership many times. Have thrown my hands up, but lucky me, blind faith in faith and a cultivated philosophical foundation have repeatedly pulled me away from the brink of darkness and despair.
Still, that “saving grace” didn’t mollify the sense that “we still eh ready yet.” Consider Jamaica Day, Carifiesta and our Steelband festival all on the same day this year, and both Jamaica Day and the pan jamboree in Parc Jean Drapeau.
On Wednesday, July 13, 2005, I watched Montreal City Hall Councillor Marcel Tremblay, the mayor’s brother on the evening news. He stated that the $200,000 spent on Carifiesta in terms of police security, securing the parade route, clean up and so on was not worth the five hours of parade.
Continuing, he suggested moving the parade to Parc Jean Drapeau on Ile St Helene. And as if he was doing our community a favour with the proposal, he said that nobody, not even the Old Port wanted the 40,000 (Black) people that the parade attracts.
It is not today City Hall has plans about finding ways and means to contain its Black/West Indian citizens. Look at “Trinidad Day” at Angrignon Park. For the past few years, fencing have attendees kettled like cattle, so in the event of anything, the venue can be sealed shut with everyone inside. Drinking alcohol is restricted to the bar area.
There is no kettling at the Jazz Festival. One could walk anywhere on site with their alcohol. Parc Jean Drapeau affords kittling in that there is only way in and out of Ile St Helene. Its metro can be shut down to avoid ‘escape.”
Beyond that, except for Les Fêtes Créoles Internationales de Montréal, and Festival International du Merengue de Montréal at Parc Jean Drapeau, all Caribbean/Black festival at the 2005 Intercultural Festival was a flop, both in terms of attendance and community business. I’m talking about Jamaica Day, Barbados Day, the two-day Soca festival, and the Eastern Caribbean Day. So what would propel Jamaica Day to return to that site?
For as long as I can remember, the Steel Band Festival was held in Émilie Gamelin Park aka Berri Square. The beauty of the location is that passersby, both on foot or in their cars who had no inkling of what was taking place would find themselves dawn to the beautiful music. By moving it to Parc Jean Drapeau, only steel pan enthusiasts would go to the venue. So what would propel its organisers to accept that location? Factor in Carifiesta is on the same day.
Fans of Carifiesta are also fans of reggae and Jamaica Day. Carifiesta and Jamaica Day also allow community party promoters and community businesses to make money on both days. A small Black community, major soca and reggae activities on the same day… what a bam bam!
Is leadership so thankful for the $2 City Hall sends their way, they are afraid to say no, mount logical, moral and perhaps legal arguments and objections?
To be continued.