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Daly Bread: Thinking about Dukes… and Wasa

There is Watson Duke and Winston Duke, both Tobago born. Watson is famous in Trinidad and Tobago. As the star of Black Panther, the fame of Winston is international.  

While we are thinking entertainment, we cannot forget the much-loved calypsonian the Mighty Duke, the late Kelvin Pope.

Photo: Tobagonian actor Winston Duke plays the role of M’baku in the hit movie Black Panther.

One might regard Watson also as an entertainer, but Watson is not Oscar material.  However, he may have received an award if he had completed his protest swim from Tobago to Trinidad, without the assistance of boat in 2017—when there were difficulties with the air and sea bridge.

Hampered by rough seas, Watson disappointed me that time.

Watson is also Duke of Wasa (the notorious Water and Sewerage Authority) because the trade union, which he heads, is very powerful there.

Then, there is the duke of Sussex, Prince Harry. At the moment, he has a very high profile worldwide in light of his bombshell revelations about the British royal family’s treatment of him and his wife, Meghan. Diehard supporters of the royal family have complained bitterly that Harry has trashed the family.

Next, there is our PNM Minister of Public Utilities Marvin Gonzales. I am thinking of him as another Duke of Wasa, because he is repeatedly trashing Wasa with the same intensity as Harry trashed the Royal family.

Photo: PDP political leader and PSA union head Watson Duke.

Arguably, the minister should not be trashing Wasa because Wasa is PNM family.  For six years prior to Marvin, Duke of Wasa, coming along and trashing the Wasa family, the PNM government had control of Wasa with revolving door ministers of public utilities.

One reader messaged me last Sunday after I mentioned Wasa: “When I hear the noise about Wasa, I wonder where the minister was born. How can they even begin to talk about corruption and mismanagement and throw management under the bus when they are totally culpable? Why don’t they say where they will get upwards of 12 billion dollars to begin to address the problems they have neglected for five decades?”

Fairness requires emphasis that, for part of those five decades, UNC-based governments were just as neglectful and wasteful as their PNM colleagues—not only in respect of Wasa, but with several entities under state control.

The argument about the desalination plant is now irrelevant. It is a very expensive plaster for the sore of the total failure of both PNM and UNC governments to deal with one of Wasa’s significant problems, namely the leaking and allegedly corrupt distribution infrastructure.

Photo: Minister of Public Utilities Marvin Gonzales (centre) on the field.
(via Ministry of Public Utilities)

Trashing Wasa is as much an insult to our intelligence as the minister of health saying he chose to have a shipment of vaccines, which is pusillanimously small. Readers all now know the answer to my question posed last Sunday in relation to vaccine procurement: Are we essentially beggars?  

Yes, we are. Besides that, we are not even begging in the right places.

When all is said, spun and done, we will have some other new dukes in the commercial sector, who will have become wealthy dukes of vaccination.

But what about citizens with potential who are neither wealthy nor powerful? This week’s theme was inspired by information about someone named Pope, reputedly a relative of the Mighty Duke. This young man is an admirable survivor on his own amazing resilience.

He has worked in various restaurants for approximately 20 years. He tried to supplement his income by entering bartending competitions and getting private jobs for home functions.  

Photo: A bartender on the job.
(Copyright Getty Images)

Having one’s talent noticed is frequently a factor of luck. My compere is the owner of the Bottles and Bites restaurant in south Trinidad. Through the leadership there, he has been encouraged to develop his skills in making decorative adornments for cocktail drinks (non-alcoholic in this time of Covid), out of drinking straws and coconut branches.

This skill provides a talking point for customers, conversation with whom about his startling pieces stimulates self-esteem and provides opportunities. This is another example of the ordinary talented citizens of Trinidad and Tobago with belly, of whom the political cadre and their satellites are unaware and uncaring.

There are many others full of potential, worthy of elevated recognition. Will they gain encouragement on the road to recovery?

About Martin Daly

Martin Daly
Martin G Daly SC is a prominent attorney-at-law. He is a former Independent Senator and past president of the Law Association of Trinidad and Tobago. He is chairman of the Pat Bishop Foundation and a steelpan music enthusiast.

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