Monday, April 22, 2024

Defending Pollard


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THE RECENT CALLS for a protest and boycott at the announcement by the owners of the Caribbean Premier League’s Barbados Tridents’ cricket team that the franchise would be captained by Trinidadian Kieron Pollard, has revealed the extent to which petty island nationalism can act as a brake on the development of a deeper regional consciousness.  
It was indeed ironic, that the first shot in the anti-Pollard campaign was fired by a former MP, Hamilton Lashley, who calls himself the “Rasta man from the Pine”.  It is ironic because Rastafari in its earliest ideological incarnation has always been guided by Marcus Garvey’s warning cry of “why exchange a continent for an island?”, and many conscious Jamaicans following Garvey’s warning have always insisted that “Jamaica is a island but is not I land”. 
In short, a Caribbean person with a progressive consciousness is never comfortable with making small island nationalism the central aspect of his thinking.
No wonder Karl Marx had warned that nationalism is a form of false consciousness since it blinds the oppressed to the real source of his oppression and denies him a proper understanding of what is required for his own liberation.
In other words, if Hamilton Lashley were seeking an enemy to any imagined oppression being suffered by the Barbadian people, by starting with Pollard he is certainly looking in the wrong direction.  
Equally important, is the fact that those who have been calling for a protest against Pollard’s captaincy, have shown little understanding of the manner in which global economic relations and sources of power have dissolved traditional understanding of the nation, citizenship, national ownership, and who belongs and who does not.  
After decades of viewing privately-run English soccer, which in recent times have seen the emergence of Russian oligarchs as key owners and whose teams by their memberships represent mini global corporations in action, it was surprising that leading Barbadian personalities would lend their voices to a protest which apparently confuses a national team with a private sportingenterprise. It would have been equally incredulous for the Antiguans to assume that Allen Stanford’s private sporting venture belonged to the Antiguans, or even more misguidedly, for Antiguans to demand that the Stanford 11 be led by an Antiguan.
It was therefore unfair for a young Caribbean entrepreneur and sports worker to have his livelihood threatened by a protest, motivated by a petty and false national consciousness. In addition, emerging in a context where the Barbadian economy has been facing tremendous difficulty, where anti-Trinidad business ownership has featured as a critical part of Barbadian economic crisis discourse, and where troubling immigration practices have emerged, it is worrisome that a progressive regional consciousness appears to be a casualty of the moment.Now more than ever, the time is ripe for a broader regional consciousness to emerge.• Tennyson Joseph is a political scientist at the University of the West Indies, Cave Hill Campus, specializing in regional affairs.Email


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