Kenny is alive . . . Wal­cott Only Just, while I dream on Mon­key Moun­tain!

The Star (St. Lucia) - - COMMENT -

Iwas at work in my stu­dio last Satur­day even­ing when I took the first five calls, all re­quest­ing con­fir­ma­tion of one of the day’s more shock­ing ru­mors. By the time I was back at home two hours later I had re­ceived sev­eral more queries from strangers who imag­ined I could sat­isfy their cu­rios­ity. Then came the in­for­mant who as­sured me via sev­eral what­sapp mes­sages that he had per­son­ally in­ves­ti­gated the sad news and there­fore was in a po­si­tion to con­firm its ve­rac­ity. No, his de­tec­tive work had not ac­tu­ally in­volved a re­li­able source. At any rate, not a live one.

“It’s on Facebook,” he fi­nally in­formed me, as if that amounted to an of­fi­cial stamp of ap­proval—and in­dis­putable. And I thought: Ah, yes of course. Why hadn’t I thought of that? Still my aroused cu­rios­ity would not be de­nied. I turned to FB—the Fool’s Bi­ble—and not be­cause I imag­ined for a sec­ond there might be some truth to the ar­rest­ing ru­mor. Some­what more per­verse was my mo­ti­va­tion to see with my own eyes just how low some peo­ple can stoop. It was one thing to de­clare a per­son po­lit­i­cally dead but to falsely an­nounce his death to the whole world . . . to my mind that re­quired a state of in­sen­si­tiv­ity syn­ony­mous with rocks. In­deed just as I was about to aban­don my FB search the ev­i­dence popped up that I se­cretly hoped was nonex­is­tent: a blow-up of former prime min­is­ter Kenny An­thony ac­com­pa­nied by news that he had passed away in the wee hours of last Fri­day morn­ing, the vic­tim of a heart at­tack.

Enough! Suf­fice it to say that ac­cord­ing to his on­line mouth­pieces Kenny An­thony is alive and well, more than ever de­ter­mined to save us from our­selves. Es­pe­cially in­ter­est­ing to me, how­ever, is that our news me­dia that ha­bit­u­ally head­line scraps from the In­ter­net, even when they reek of fake news, had to­tally ig­nored the pre­ma­ture death an­nounce­ment. Some of us can hardly wait to fea­ture in our even­ing news bul­letins and in our news­pa­pers hor­ror im­ages of naked homi­cide vic­tims grotesquely twisted on bloody beds, life­less bod­ies dan­gling from tree branches, to say noth­ing of rav­aged corpses fished out of the sea. On the grossly ex­ag­ger­ated mat­ter of our former prime min­is­ter’s death, how­ever, not a word, not a word, not a word.

I can’t help won­der­ing if there’s a po­lit­i­cal di­men­sion to the cited false news. If there is it would sug­gest we’re even sicker than ear­lier be­lieved. Af­ter all, such fake news as cited above can hor­ri­bly af­fect close rel­a­tives and friends. Imag­ine be­ing con­fronted, while ca­su­ally pe­rus­ing FB, by a story that a mem­ber of your fam­ily was run over by a truck on Jeremie Street two hours af­ter he or she left home for work. Yes, dare to imag­ine that night­mare. Imag­ine the con­se­quent fran­tic phone calls, the des­per­a­tion, the anx­i­ety, the tears, the panic—all to sat­isfy a de­gen­er­ate’s need!

I was talking with a friend about last Satur­day’s fake death an­nounce­ment when he said: “What if that story had been true? The press would most cer­tainly ask you to com­ment. You’d be ex­pected, at the very least, to say some­thing on TALK. Con­sid­er­ing your relationship with the man when he was alive, what would you say at his pass­ing?”

The ques­tion took me off guard. I chuck­led un­com­fort­ably. “Well,” I said, “you know you’re not sup­posed to speak ill of the dead, right?” But I’ve had a hard time shak­ing off the ef­fects of my friend’s teaser. What would I say should Kenny An­thony go be­fore me to that place we must all one day go? If I should speak of his his­tory, if I should laud his un­de­ni­able aca­demic ac­com­plish­ments, what would be the pop­u­lar re­ac­tion? No need to think long; I would be called a shame­less hyp­ocrite, at the very least—es­pe­cially by those blinded by loy­alty, whether or not dis­placed.

Sir John Compton comes to mind. At the time of his pass­ing in 2007 I had writ­ten, in ef­fect, that he had been by a long way our na­tion’s most ef­fec­tive prime min­is­ter; that he had never been one to bear grudges; that he pos­sessed a sailor’s sense of hu­mor. Most im­por­tant (on a per­sonal level), that de­spite my hav­ing earned a rep­u­ta­tion as “the scourge of John Compton,” he had deemed me wor­thy of the OBE—for my “con­tri­bu­tions to jour­nal­ism in Saint Lu­cia.” I meant ev­ery word, not­with­stand­ing our no­to­ri­ous con­fronta­tions.

Which takes me now to our un­der-ap­pre­ci­ated sec­ond No­bel win­ner Derek Wal­cott about whom the news is bad; very bad. And ex­pected to get worse. There is still time to make amends be­fore he moves on. If only the na­tion could find the courage to come to­gether in his name be­fore we say our fi­nal good-byes. But then I know I am dream­ing on Mon­key Moun­tain!

Edi­tor’s Note: The pre­ced­ing was sub­mit­ted on Wed­nes­day morn­ing. See Wal­cott Is Dead in this is­sue.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Saint Lucia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.