Small bait, big fish
I DON’T KNOW MUCH about fishing, although my teenaged great nephew is an avid fisherman, but I didn’t think such a small bait could catch such a large fish! However, Mr Mohammed Degia, I’m honoured to think that an illustrious career diplomat like you would read a column by a mere agronomist like me.
I’m sorry that my “troubling sentiments” disturbed you so, but I maintain that I have the right to choose a topic for my own column (as long as it’s acceptable to the NATION editors and lawyer) and stick to the subject.
I was always taught at school that when writing an essay, one should stick to the topic. Much later, while in the Senate, I was trained further in this area by the then President of the Senate Sir Fred Gollop. He was strict about not straying from the point being discussed. That’s why I’m amazed at what is allowed to go on in both Houses of Parliament nowadays.
In my columns, I set out to be clear and concise in what I have to say, and to use simple language which doesn’t require readers to always have a dictionary at hand. My feedback tells me that this is appreciated. Some columnists tend to pad their columns with “fluff”, making it difficult to extract any pearls of wisdom which might lie within. I have stopped reading a number of columns for that very reason; I can’t get past the first paragraph.
In your New Year’s Day Speaking My Mind column, you “hauled me over the coals” for agreeing with our Prime Minister that plantation houses should be made good use of and not allowed to fall into disrepair, as has already happened to many of them. I can’t for the life of me see how allowing them to go to ruin will wipe the memory of slavery from all minds.
Wouldn’t it be better to use them as heritage sites, which would tell the story of slavery, attract those interested in history and earn some revenue at the same time? If we follow your argument to its logical conclusion, our beautiful Parliament Buildings should be abandoned post haste, lest they pollute our minds with the spectre of slavery.
I seldom read your column, but someone who does brought it to my attention that you continue to dwell on certain atrocities, but manage to skilfully skirt around those too close to home which might make you uncomfortable. All atrocities are to be abhorred, but will continuing to look back help us go forward? I refer you to a poem in a recently published book entitled Remembering by Maurice Foster, which talks about walking backwards into hell.
Not knowing much about you and what you had achieved as a career diplomat, I googled you and found an article about slavery you had penned in 2007. In it you noted that “compensation and reparations, words that many regard as taboo, are very real issues which must be addressed . .
. . When one speaks of reparations, one does not necessarily mean cash payments to countries or individuals. For me, compensation is about international policies to reverse the negative effects of racism and slavery, partnerships between developed and developing countries to promote social and economic growth, investment to foster the human resources of developing countries, fair international trading rules, a transparent and democratic international economic and financial system, and international relations acted out on the basis of morality and decency, rather than economic greed and quest for power”.
I totally agree with your sentiments, as I think that small countries like ours are taken advantage of in a lot of these highfalutin agreements which are made totally in favour of the bigger countries. So I have a question to ask since I admit I don’t know much about the job descriptions of career diplomats, although I assume my taxes go towards their salaries, so I should be aware of what I’m paying for.
During your tenure as a diplomat, were you able to influence our Government officials as to which agreements would be advantageous and which wouldn’t be? From what goes on with the World Trade Organisation and so on, I would say that if you tried, you weren’t too successful, as we continue to be trodden on, especially with agriculture, which many feel should not even be included in that agreement.