Friday, December 27, 2013


The Christmas that never was

Twas the night before Christmas and Vincentians were busily preparing for the big day. Salt hams were boiling, cakes were in the ovens, finishing touches were being made to curtains etc. Then the rains came. A little Christmas blessing?  No big deal!. Then the lightning arrived and what an awesomely beautiful  display it was. Lightning flashed like a strobe light illuminating the night skies. One friend joked that it just needed some techno music to complete the club illusion. And the rains continued  even as electricity and water took their leave.

Soon pictures appeared on social media showing Kingstown streets submerged by water and mud.  As the night went on the chatter grew louder as  pictures of devastated areas outside of Kingstown began surfacing. By morning we awoke to the horror and devastation of our little island. Not only were bridges, roads  and properties destroyed but lives were lost. An entire family of five wiped out in Rose Bank, the body of an 18 year old recovered in Cane Grove while  four others remain unaccounted for in the general area. The death toll continued to climb as word spread that two men in Vermont and Byrea respectively perished.

Needless to say Christmas Day 2013 was extremely sombre. The usual merriment was  replaced by heavy hearts as we assessed the damage and tried to make sense of what had transpired. The water system took a huge hit with nine of the eleven catchments suffering extensive damage. As it stands water is being rationed and will likely be for the next week or more as the Central Water and Sewage Authority works feverishly to repair its damaged mains.

As I write this the official death toll remains at 8 but we know it will climb. According to NEMO, nine shelters housing around 190 persons are opened and there is an urgent need for food and I suspect clothing. I feel for my little island, seems we just cannot catch a break as Mother Nature continues to leave devastation after devastation. Today is Clean up day and the cleaning and the healing will continue long after the official day. As bleak as it looks and as gloomy as I feel there is no doubt we will dig deep and bounce back. We have to.


Thursday, December 05, 2013


Farewell Mandela

It was February 11th, 1990 and I was 10 years old. That Sunday morning the house was filled with feverish excitement a far cry from the gloom and doom following  Buster Douglas's  upset of Mike Tyson, the heavyweight boxing champion.  From the conversation I gathered that something good was about to happen to someone named Mandela. All eyes were glued to the television and I watched as an old man walked through some gates to loud cheers mixed with tears from my relatives.

As I grew older and learnt about Mandela I was able to understand the magnitude of watching  him take those halting steps to freedom. Imprisoned for 27 long years, he never wavered in his fight for racial equality but pressed on with his beliefs. There are so many lessons to be learnt from the life of Nelson Mandela but his seeming ability to live in the now is what has resonated with me.

For some of us forgiveness is the hardest hurdle to cross. We remember all the wrongs inflicted upon us and swear to get even or patiently wait on karma to have its way.  It would have been so easy for Mandela to be bitter but he famously said “As I walked out the door toward the gate that would lead to my freedom, I knew if I didn't leave my bitterness and hatred behind, I'd still be in prison.”  Truly great words to live by!

When I got the alert that he had died I couldn't help thinking he went out on his terms.Earlier  in the year the world waited with bated breath for the updates on his failing health. In fact, it was more of a death watch but In fact, it was more of a death watch but seems he wanted to go out without the fanfare and fate obliged. Walk good Mandela, from political prisoner to first black president of South Africa your life was an inspiration.

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