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ICONS: FALSE AND TRUE by Rae Samuel

posted 26 Mar 2014, 15:14 by Gerry Kangalee
I came back to Trinidad this morning after spending the week-end overseas, Tobago, you have the pass on or over the water to get there..I half expected to see the attendants in protective gear, but apparently the threat caused by Glen's outreach programme has faded. Boy did he draw a 'bad card'.

The pioneers drew stern criticism..Anil in his crashed and secreted Prado; Vasant.and his Jour Ouvert foot massage; Colin the Zen drunken master. These trend setters were criticised but were wise enough to play humble and lay low for a while and drink at home. But none of them drew the ire of "Mr. Panty line too high'' in the way Glen has.

Now let us be clear why a certain religious leader is calling for Glen to go. It is simply good political sense. With your political stocks so low, with your days in office numbered, you cannot have one of your front liners engaging in such conduct.

It is similar to what happened to Margaret "may she rust in pieces' Thatcher when she proposed the 'poll tax'. Tories marched against her to save the Party. She had become a major liability in much the same way that Glen became a major embarrassment. And it is not easy to embarrass the People's Partnership!

Besides, anyone who goes on Crime Watch to present a defence must be.....tired? But there is light at the end of the cabin/tunnel for Glen. At least no calypsonian will accuse him of befriending goats. And Tobago, from whence he flew, is full of them. A couple were/are in the THA and the rest tethered in pastures around the island. Some gave up lettuce and cabbage, rose to the TOP, and was voted back to green and brown pastures from whence they built their mansions.

And in the midst of the malaise, we lose one of the originals, one of the true icons. Rodney Wilkes, our pioneer Olympic medallist, silver in his first Olympics in 1948 and bronze in 1952. I never met the gentleman but those sportsmen who knew him said he was not easy to deal with. Like so many pioneers he opened the door, others walked through and it swung back on him, They tell me he worked at the sSan Fernando Borough Corporation but it seems he did not become part of any sporting association.

Part of it I imagine was his event, weightlifting. Even now these are seen more as 'grunt/heave ho' events. Back in those days it was easier to enjoy cycling or the prince of the sporting events track and field. We need to note that Rodney won gold at the Pan Am Games, the then British Empire now Commonwealth Games and the CAC games

I always think of people like Wilkes with respect. There were no well funded associations, Olympic solidarity movements or elite programmes. Those athletes would simply have had what the old timers called 'belly”. Their coaches most likely were locals. They travelled on ships, had no entourage. We were not even independent then. I often wonder how the government of the day treated them or how news of their success resonated in Trinidad and Tobago.

Irony of ironies: even as the 1964 Olympic heroes in 4x440 yards were being celebrated, the first to achieve Olympic glory passed away far from an adulation he equally deserved. Will the UNC government honour him accordingly? I hope so. They always have managed to come through where the "black' PNM government fails: a house for Hasely; lifting the ban on Kwame Ture/Stokely Carmichael; assisting the greatest of all time, Slinger Francisco, in his hour of need. At least he was wise enough to fall ill on a UNC watch.

And there is no cable where Rodney has gone, so he won't have to watch cricket. But like Crawford, the common people recognised and accepted him; so San Fernando boy Wilkes will always be with us. Long after Glen has gone!
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