Home / View Point / Letters to the Editor / Dear Editor: Why President Weekes should use her bouffs sparingly

Dear Editor: Why President Weekes should use her bouffs sparingly

“The thing about bouffs, though, is that they are a peculiarly ineffective means of communication. Often, they roll right off the back of the person at whom they are directed. In worst-case scenarios, such as when they come from a President, they can draw lines in the sand and raise monkey glands.

“Just refer back to the Price vs the President situation.”

The following Letter to the Editor, provoked by President Paula-Mae Weekes’ media release in response to PLOTT, was submitted to Wired868 by Sharon Bradshaw.

Photo: President Paula-Mae Weekes tickles Chief Justice Ivor Archie during her inauguration ceremony at NAPA on March 19, 2018

Yesterday’s presidential media release, unfortunately titled “Erroneous Social Media Message,” caused me to raise one eyebrow as I listened to it being read on the midday news. It was the tone of the final paragraph that got my full attention. Never mind the big words, any Trinbagonian would recognise the intent of this sentence:

. . . Her Excellency is greatly distressed and dismayed by this fabrication, particularly in light of her reminder to citizens and the media in her Inauguration Address of their duty to report responsibly which includes avoiding disseminating misinformation.

She bouff we!

I decided that this warranted a look at the Office of the President’s website.

There were other messages on that site that are accessible and the tone is warm: Michelle-Lee Ahye is referred to as “a shero” and kudos are sent to her “mummy;” succinct background context is provided to help readers understand the topics, such as the swearing-in of a Fair Trade Commissioner or the Chairman of the Equal Opportunity Tribunal.

Some are written in the first person and some of the President’s perspectives may be discerned from them. As an example, on the occasion of Shouter Baptist Liberation Day, the presidential message characterises that faith as “miles ahead of traditional religion in recognising women in high office.”

For those reasons as well as because of the use of language, I have concluded that the President has authored these messages herself.

Photo: President Paula-Mae Weekes addresses the nation on the occasion of her swearing-in on Monday 17 March, 2018.
(Courtesy Office of the President)

I take it, therefore, that the bouff came from her. In that sense, I’m taking it personally.

Here is my translation: “Ent I tell allyuh to use social media responsibly?! Don’t let me get vex here, eh!”

I’m really feeling it for the President. The exasperation that motivates a bouff is never far from everyday life in Trinbago. And the bouff-reflex is easy to reach for. In her use of bouff-talk, President Weekes is acting in accordance with precedent. Think back to President Carmona’s ill-fated face-off with Rachel Price.

The thing about bouffs, though, is that they are a peculiarly ineffective means of communication. Often, they roll right off the back of the person at whom they are directed. In worst-case scenarios, such as when they come from a President, they can draw lines in the sand and raise monkey glands.

Just refer back again to the Price vs the President situation.

We in Trinbago-land are a peculiar and special bunch of people; we love you if you know how to narrow the us/them divide and play on our strengths. President Hassanali did an excellent job of that.

And we not taking it just so if you try to diss us; we not taking bouff.

Photo: I beg your puddin?

In the ongoing, underground work of uniting the Trinbago people, the Office of the President has a unique role to play. I think President Weekes has both a clear sense of history and a clear sense of purpose as regards achieving this unifying mission.

But I hope she rethinks the use of bouff-talk.

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  1. Firm and yet decisive. What’s not to like?

  2. Our predidency is a total waste of time and money
    Away with it

  3. My comments address only the paragraph quoted from the media release. I am reaching for a different kind of relationship between state and citizen, as reflected in the tenor of communication between them. Pleasing or displeasing the President isn’t a standard against which to measure national behaviour and it sounds like it comes from an old model of governance. I would hope instead that we might find and debate the shared ideals which invoke our better selves, ultimately making us all proud.

  4. Fine and dandy to say what not to do, but where is the suggestion of the more appropriate response?

  5. Ahye’s “mummy”?

  6. It’s very early in her tenure and given the seriousness of the what the misinformation purported that she did, a very strong response was warranted. Her release “sought” not just to protect her reputation but also the reputation of the office of the President. I am certain there were stronger measures that could have been taken however, the firm but measured statement got the job done.

  7. Earl Best

    As you imply in your water-off-a-duck’s-back paragraph, there are some people who are bouff-proof, politicians chief among them. So me eh care if Rowley and Kamla and dem get regular bouff until deh show dat who deh really care bout is all ah we.

    I hasten to add that I have NO illusions about what powers the president has or does not have; (s)he might have to take instructions from the prime minister but as long as (s)he does not feel (s)he has to put water in his/her mouth to talk, I’m cool.

  8. I don’t think the President stepped out of her lane at all personally. It was very important that she address the matter and she did that clearly and without going on a rant.