The mirage of integration (I)
Sun, 04/10/2016 - 12:00am Barbados1
If uh wasn’t there to see fuh meself,
I would’a never believe it,
I would’a never believe it.
But I say it once an’ I say it agen:
When things goin’ good, you cahn touch
We; but leh murder start an’ you can fine a man to hole up de side…”
– Kamau Brathwaite –“Rites” (Islands: The Arrivants)
Two events in the past few weeks, totally disconnected otherwise, have served to explain, in rather cogent fashion, the stuttering hold-and-nudge approach that we appear to have adopted with regard to the now decades-old regional integration project. It bears reminder of the doubtful lover with the oxeye daisy as he or she plucks the alternate petals: “He/she loves me; he/she loves me not…” or, more contextually put, “Integration; integration not; integration; integration not…”
The first and more recent was the astounding double triumph last Sunday of the regional men’s and women’s cricket teams in the International Cricket Council’s (ICC) dual World T20 competitions in India. Given our relative drought of victories thitherto, and combined with the recent success of our Under-19 players in their version of the World Cup, the resultant euphoria of the region was to be expected.
But this essay is not about the game itself that embodied a heady cocktail of umbrage at the accusation of the team being “short of brains”; the technical skill of the similarly named Samuel Badree and Marlon Samuels; and the awesome batsmanship of Carlos Brathwaite in his successful devastation of Ben Stokes’ final and necessarily incomplete over). So far as the first is concerned, the following should be required reading: https://firmmeditation.wordpress.com/2016/04/07/could-you-be-loved/
Yet, amidst it all, there came to the fore that Sunday global revelation of the underlying cancer of antagonistic discord in the governance of the regional game. Flushed with the aftermath of a spectacular victory and confidently assured of the goodwill of most West Indian fans on such a bountiful occasion, the captain of the men’s team, Mr Darren Sammy, in plain sight and audience of the global cricket-loving public, used the happy occasion to air the very dirty linen that constitutes the industrial and administrative relation between the players, their representative organisation, the West Indian Players’ Association (WIPA), and the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB).
Naturally, Mr ‘Dave’ Cameron, the current president of the WICB, took vocal exception to this and, immediately, the joy that should have been universally felt in the afterglow of all too rare moment of modern regional cricket supremacy, devolved into an shouting match between those commentators firmly opposed to the recent poor fortunes of the team, the form or style of governance by the current WICB or, simply, the personality of its president and those comparatively few that felt the need to defend the beleaguered organisation owing to membership in it or through a natural inclination to support the underdog.
Understandably, Mr Sammy was joined in his generalised condemnation of the WICB by the voiced opinions of a number of past and current players; the iterations of some regional heads of government; and sundry commentators who, dissatisfied with our lowly positions in the longer forms of the game, taking up the “fire-rage” of the players and the politicians, or simply disgusted with president Cameron’s defiant and combative style, see no merit at all in the current Board.
Notably few, however, were the voices of reason at this time of acrimony, among them the former Prime Minister of Barbados, Mr Owen Arthur, who wisely counselled a moratorium in the controversy that, ironically, could fuel a destruction of regional cricket at a time when the region ought to be in its cups at the unprecedented victories.
This scenario calls to mind so much an elegantly written passage from the James Baldwin novel, “Tell me how long the train’s been gone”, quoted by Kamau Brathwaite in the work referred to in the epigraph: “It was as though, after indescribable, nearly mortal effort, after grim years of fasting and prayer, after the loss of all he had, and after having been promised by the Almighty that he had paid the price and no more would be demanded of his soul, which was harboured now; it was as though in the midst of his joyful feasting and dancing, crowned and robed, a messenger arrived to tell him that a great error had been made, and that it was all to be done again”.
In fact, despite all the distaste that might be felt by many at his defiant and, some say, arrogant attitude, president Cameron is undeniably the constitutionally elected president of the WICB and calls for his involuntary removal or the dissolution of the current administration therefore arguably contradict the rule of law that should presumably govern regional
Ironically, with the charge for this form of resolution being led by a few regional Prime Ministers, it should provide a teachable moment for each of them.
They, likewise, enjoy their current status by virtue of a constitutionally legitimate election and appointment and would rightly consider it treasonable anarchy if it were
seriously to be suggested that any of them should have his administration voluntarily or forcibly dissolved immediately because of apparent popular dissatisfaction.
The effective solution, in my view, is not to set a roguish and scofflaw precedent of unconstitutionally removing an unpopular Board. It is for the “electorate” to do so according to the established rules; first, by each constituent body electing, to sit on the WICB, local representatives who are willing to commit to the constitutional reform of the present structure and thereby to popularise the governance of West Indies cricket. Or, as is our wont, are we prepared to talk about it only?
Any other measure smacks of the paramountcy of personality; an agenda that has proven so far to be to our detriment in politics, law, cricket and much else in the region
To be continued…