Sunday, June 07, 2009

Beware! The Ground Has Shifted!


By Mshaka


I have experienced an earthquake. As a matter of fact, I have experienced several of them. I remember an earthquake in the 1970’s that shook up Antigua and left people extremely nervous.

That morning I had awakened early and had gone jogging. I had run through Ovals and Ottos and had reached the top of the road below Michaels Mount… just where the Catholic church now stands.

I decided to take a short rest and sat on the steps of the old ‘guard house’ that stood at the bottom entrance to Michael’s Mount. I sat there for a moment admiring and enjoying the beautiful hues and shades that were showing in the eastern sky… above Holberton Hospital… a display of colors that preceded a beautiful sunrise and the promise of a sunny day with blue skies. 

As I sat there… dogs from the whole area suddenly began to bark and howl… Then I heard a deep rumble… I noticed that a man who had just passed by had stumbled and fell… another man coming up the road was staggering as if seriously drunk… I looked behind me up the hill and it seemed as if Michael’s Mount was moving back and forth…

I realized that the ground was shifting under my feet… I got up and started to run back home… all the way to King George V grounds.

I think that was 1974… and yes, the ground HAD shifted. We had experienced a strong earthquake! Since then we have experienced many more earthquakes… smaller… less significant… but earthquakes nonetheless.

More recently, Antigua and Barbuda experienced another earthquake. This was an earthquake of shattering proportions! But when it struck… no one realized that it was an earthquake! There were no dogs barking… no shouting… and no one fell – immediately. Back then, no one understood how it would impact our country in a few short years.

This earthquake of which I speak has shifted the ground on which we walk… personally, socially, politically, financially, economically… every which way you can think!

This earthquake has also caused people to fall! As a matter of fact a whole lot of them were shaken up and then fell! They are still trying to catch themselves!

This earthquake achieved for us in a few years what Tim Hector, Baldwin Spencer, Dr. Heath and countless others had not accomplished in 28 years of trying!

What was that earthquake? It was the advent of talk-radio initiated and led by Observer Radio.

Simply put, Observer Radio has allowed the common folk to have their say. It has allowed the voice of a fisherman from Urlings to be heard. It has allowed us to hear a grandmother talk about the education of her grandchildren. It has allowed those without voices to have their say… any time, on any subject, without being shut down or shut up!

That same earthquake sounded the death knell of 28 years of corrupt government for the red party! It ushered in the UPP into power in 2004.

Yes… the ground shifted that day when Observer Radio… opened the phone lines and allowed the voices of the people to be heard – near and far… worldwide!

No longer were we just listening to the politicians with their one sided views. No longer were we forced to listen to political spin without being able to respond. No longer were the politicians the only ones with an audience of many…Now, any Tom, Dick and Harry could… well… have their say.

And it was a good thing. And it still is a good thing.

The ground has shifted… and it will continue shifting.

Political leaders, community leaders, and business leaders can no longer work in the dark… hiding their shenanigans… unanswerable to the people.

They can no longer cloak themselves in their positions of power without having to answer immediately

It is sad that I have to write this… as I think that the foregoing is obvious to everyone… Everyone that is except a few well placed and well positioned individuals… including policy makers… who still want to operate in the old ways of the old days.

A new day has dawned… we were promised transparency… Well… we demand it. The ground has shifted… we the people demand good governance, responsiveness to the will of the common folk, and transparent leadership and decision making.

These days… there are 70,000 “Outlet” reporters – observing, revealing and reporting… willing and ready and able to call 911 on their cell phones. They are capable of taking a picture or recording a video on the same cell phone… or emailing a ‘dockisment’ to a popular radio host… And they will do those things… and have done those things… And will continue…

The ground has shifted… the power is in the hands of the people…

1974 is history. Yet there are those who harken back and wish they could get away today… with the behaviors that those people got away with yesterday…

But beware– the ground has shifted… the power has shifted and continues to shift in the direction of the people.

For that we thank those who allow the voices of the people to be heard.