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posted 24 May 2021, 15:51 by Gerry Kangalee   [ updated 24 May 2021, 16:05 ]
I am not in any way trying to downplay the impact of Covid 19, which is well-nigh impossible anyway. Just as one would not attempt to be flippant or dismissive of violence against women and abuse of minors by individuals or organisations, I want to suggest, in the wake of the current pandemic, we have seen the emergence of a ''co-morbidity'' among certain national leaders and professionals, charged with see us safely through this national crisis with minimal loss. And indeed among certain talk show hosts.

I call it ''Media Conference Syndrome''. What are its symptoms? Like a diarrhoea they rush to the microphones and stand before cameras at the slightest opportunity. And like diarrhoea it is more time spent with less substance emerging.

Take the media briefing of Saturday 22nd May. We were regaled with statistics and then admonishments enclosed in a harangue. I want to suggest that the population is aware of the dangers by and large. I also want to say that there is a lot of fear out there and that messages must reassure rather than intimidate.

Amilcar Cabral always advised that we 'tell no lies, claim no easy victories.'' No one is asking the Prime Minister, his Cabinet colleagues, his medical advisers so to do. But ask yourself how you would feel, if daily your physician showed up telling you "Boy! You real sick yes!'' His/her bedside manner is supposed to encourage you.

There is something in communication called the "boomerang effect’ This occurs when the medium and the message are not used appropriately and do not bring about the desired response; much like using corporal punishment as a teaching/learning strategy. The learner remembers the pain, primarily, and any learning that takes place is minimal, incidental and associated with the physical trauma

So leading the exchange with all this badjohn bullying talk about what powers are available under the Health regulations; about whether the Police are free to enter one's home at will; how much powers they now have with the State of Emergency - that approach makes matters worse.

It is based on the top down elitist model of neo-colonial leadership What CLR James refers to when he says people are not hogs to be fattened, meaning the leader/s give, the people receive and then go
CLR James
out and vote for them no questions asked. The leaders know and the people follow and those who query or march out of step are either stupid, destructive or unpatriotic and really should be locked away or stamped upon like so many cockroaches.

This crisis is as much a political crisis as it is a health crisis. There are issues and areas of uncertainty, but if there is not broad discussion and wide inclusion the process begins to unravel. When a Prime Minister in the midst of such a situation keeps going after the sins, then and now, of the Opposition Leader he has lost his way. At community level, M. P’s should be involved in information gathering re the affected constituents, ideas of how to help those in dire need, linking with health personnel about particular concern in their communities, supporting the overworked and overly stressed front line workers.

True to their reactionary political training they see receiving chooks and hamper distributions as photo ops. Where are the photos of them moving around constituencies asking about problems with online learning, housing accommodation, the day to day domestic challenges?

The road ahead is long and we must travel it. We cannot leave it to the existing leadership who repeatedly ask us to just follow their lead. We must intervene. Contrary to what was being said on the Saturday the vaccine distribution programme is not rolling out smoothly. When one calls the numbers given, there is an initial response, one is advised to dial or wait for a call transfer and B mobile starts rubbing its hands with glee. At the time of writing I had been waiting for four days for an acknowledgement of my application. Idi Stuart reminds us whenever he gets an opportunity of what it is like in the trenches.

Intimidation, threats and misleading information will not help. In this country States of Emergency always have political agendas beyond the immediate issue. Telling working people who were already suffering the effects of structural adjustment to hold some more strain or else is a SORT scene countrywide. People will rebel! This is what happens when backs are against the wall. Those in charge must stop talking loud and saying nothing. Over and over.