Sunday, August 04, 2013

"I think that the debate should be elevated to do justice to SLU on the competence of the individuals to lead our fair isle." - Allan Amedee

A recent discussion on SLAP caught my attention. It had to do with Allen Chastanet's competence in Kweyole.  What amazes me is why such an issue at this point in time? Is the Constitution of St Lucia written in patois, or should one be verse in the dialect to lead this country? Must Allen be able tom speak patois fluently to be able go give good representation locally as well as abroad/
This blog thinks that this issue is a far-fetched one which should not be entertained by the so called bright minds of the SLP and the like.
 As a past teacher I have seen the damage done to young minds as they grapple with the English language at school -  pure transliteration.from patois; what a sorry state? And here we are today making an issue with person's competence to lead a country base on his ability to speak the dialect fluently. Give me a break!
Below is that discussion extracted from Facebook:
Amatus Edwards: There is the view that Allen Chastanet needs to be able to speak Kweyol fluently to qualify as PM. The rationale presented is that he needs to be able to communicate to the ENTIRE nation and kweyol seem to be the ONLY means by which this could be achieved. The following should make for some interesting discussion:
 1. What about the population of deaf people. Would they be reached with Kweyol? Or, are they unimportant?
 2. Should he master sign language as well? Can our present PM sign?
 3. When he would have spoken in kweyol without translating into english, would he not be excluding those folks who can't understand Kweyol. I was shocked to come across a fellow Anse La Raye resident who could not understand simple kweyol.
 4. Should each word the PM speak be translated to both kweyol and English....oh, and sign Language?
 5. When was the last time you heard KDA speak kweyol when taking news interviews? Has he been deliberately keeping the masses in the dark?
 6. The constitution requires that MP have a good mastery of the English language. Are you satisfied that all the MPs do?
 7. The constitution does not require MP to be fluent in kweyol.
     Politicians speaking kweyol to people in Saint Lucia is more platitude than anything else - me think.
    Amatus Edwards: Rohan Roaks admins could you kindly PIN this post? Thanks in anticipation. This issue has taken centre stage and so should be thoroughly dealt with.
   Shazi Chalon: Amatus Edwards sign language is not our culture the kreyole language is a very important part of our culture we are a natural bilingual people that's whats makes us unique !!!
    Vieuxfort South Cries: Shazi Chalon hope you are covering your tracks
    Shazi Chalon: my work speaks for me !!!
      Nicholas Sydney: you have articulated some great points and I do agree with you. The most important thing should be the Prime Minister should be able to communicate to the entire nation. Lets look at the US where Spanish is a language spoken by a large portion of US citizens. The president of the US is not chastised for his inability for speaking Spanish. If he wants to communicate to the Latinos he has a translator do that for him. The same is done for deaf people. If he cant use sign language then there are people who are assigned for that task. Although things are put in place to address these limitations; such as close caption television. However we are not measured by the same standards in St.Lucia. There is only a small percentage of deaf people in St.Lucia and yes we do have close caption television. We have newspapers because believe it or not deaf people can read. Creole is spoken by or at least understood by the vast majority of our citizens. It is part of our history as a matter of fact a day is set aside to observe its significance to St.Lucia. Any person seriously considering themselves for office of Prime Minister should at least be able to communicate to the masses in their native language. Though the president of the US is not required to speak Spanish, anyone running for Governor or congressman in any of these Latino areas they are expected to speak Spanish.
     Allan Amedee: I think immersion in one's cultural heritage is an important element of representation. Moreover, I don't see him as the/a Solution, if anything I see him as part of the Problem. I have no Party Political axe to grind
     Urban Dolor: I am in agreement with Allan Amedee. I don't think this is all about whether Mr. Chastenet can speak/understand/ Kwéyòl. I think more of it has to do with whether he has the experiences that would have allowed him to speak (or at least understand) that language. Now if he has not been exposed to the experiences that allows a person to become a Kwéyòl speaker I think it would be extremely difficult for him to understand the lives of Kwéyòl speakers. If he has the experience but chose not to learn the language then that may well be saying something else - he is either unable to learn [languages] quickly or he is condescending - I don't think either of these augers well for him.
The Corollary of what I have offered is that even if Mr. Chastenet were to take crash courses in speaking Kwéyòl he would still be handicapped without an ability to understand the experiences that would have shaped the lives of the Kwéyòl speaker. Why should we have a leader who is incapable of empathizing with a significant portion of the electorate?
I think that Kenny D. Anthony would be a better leader if he were able to sign. Don't you think so Amatus Edwards: Among other things it would help him better structure thoughts that he wants to share with them.
    Allan Amedee: POLITICS unlike being born with a silver spoon where the sun don't shine. One is ELECTED and NOT SELECTED
       Amatus Edwards :I get it guys, it is not about his inability to speak kweyol but his inability to understand the experiences that would have shaped the lives of the Kwéyòl speaker. Did I get it correctly this time around?
    Amatus Edwards: Shazi Chalon says sign language is not part of our culture. This means that we don't sign in Saint Lucia. This can't be true Chalon. Our culture is not static. It has evolved to include quite a bit of foreign cultures to create a potpourri that we seem to enjoy. You would say that Country and Western is not part of our culture; but Urban Dolor would yell at you to say that you would have been joking.
     Amatus Edwards: Urban Dolor brought a new dimension; that of his inability to understand the experiences that would have shaped the lives of the kweyol Speaker.
While I don't buy that view because I never lived on a slave plantation and I am pretty clear about the travails of slaves on one but I would seek to deal with the point that the good gentleman has advanced.
If UD is correct, then shouldn't the PM need to understand the experiences that would have shaped the lives of the other saint Lucians who don't speak kweyol? I think we have to choose one or the other. Isn't it important for the PM to understand the experiences of all of us? Or can he? Can anyone understand the experiences of a whole nation firsthand or can he acquaint himself with them through other means? Besides, while most saint Lucians would be speaking kweyol, their experiences growing up may be much different from each other!
    Joseph Dosserie: Whereas his ability to speak the language would have been a great asset, I think of bigger importance is his knowledge, understanding and deeper appreciation of the kweyol culture, and how it influences the lives of the populist. My answer is no.
Eldon Morille: A young lady spent about two six months stints in new York December 2011- January 2013 when she came back met her at super j said to her sac ka fete and she was like uh what??? am like sa ka fete and she goes I do not understand patois, well ashamed to have embarrassed my self and her I went about my shopping.
     Amatus Edwards: Joseph Dosserie , please read my penultimate post.
     Joseph Dosserie: I did.i was expressing my own views.
   Allan Amedee: My Bro Amatus Edwars, I understand and respect you views and dogged defense of your position. But, my brother you seem to be unhappy with any one with a contrary view. We are not clones of each other and come and see things from different perspectives. i't wouldn't be a Democracy otherwise
   Amatus Edwards: Okay then Joseph Dosserie. You need to take a look at the New thread which I created on that kweyol issue.
       Ian Charles: Sigh, this "can the white Saint Lucian man speak patios" argument is a very pointless argument. I know MANY people, MANY PEOPLE who are black Saint Lucians and cannot speak more than patois cuss words. How many northern kids can speak a word in Patois? Juk bois has on occasion, gotten upset with his guests for not being able to speak patois! For me, the important issue is whether AC can identify with the circumstances, realities and challenges of the people he seeks to represent. If no, and if that is critical, then what of the argument that persons who did not hail from a community cannot or should not run that constituency in an election? I thought the reason for the latter was that those persons did not know the people or could not identify with them. Lastly, I think the unability of AC to speak fluent patois is excellent. It has placed an important cultural issue on the front burner. But if speaking creole is integral to our claim to true lucianism, then shouldn't we ALL be able to? And if Chastanet decides to take classes, what of the other black Saint Lucians who can't speak patois? Also, if AC learns Patois, would that then satisfy our requirements for representation? I see this as a case of be careful what you wish for!
     Gleason Lafeuillee: Ian Charles i'd say if there are St Lucians who don't speak patios is because they don't want to. this i'd say based on the fact that if u pass by the Syrians who came to St Lucia and own businesses all over. many if not all of them do speak the creole/patios. they make it their business to learn it as soon as they land. when you go by their store they would speak it to you and when they don't want you to know what they speaking they use their native language. so i'd say its not a requirement but I think the leader of the nation should at least have be able to converse in our native language. that would help to identify him/her as one of us. that's my humble view.
    Urban Dolor: Amatus Edwards I am still hoping that you can give me your support for my position that Kenny Anthony would be better off if he could sign. Alas, I will have to wait a little longer. About the understanding slavery matter. There is no way that an ordinary person who did not experience slavery first hand can have the splanchnic understanding of the atrocities associated with slavery when compared to a person who had first-hand experience. Top of the line actors are the only ones who may come close to that understanding.
Tell me Amatus whose would you prefer to be defending your right to access to a Country and Western dance, me or some one who has never gone to a country and western dance in his life (assume that the other fellow is just as articulate as I am).
      Ian Charles: Gleason Lafeuillee you'd feel better if a PM could speak it, but not that he uses it. I agree that those who don't speak it,don't want to or aren't interested in learning. But the "one of us" viewpoint"? How do we define that? SJC was Vincentian, AC is born Lucian. Can't he and others learn? Btw, I am no AC advocate, just arguing the issues.
     Jimmy Haynes: I thought about making a contribution to this debate but with all these accomplished mystery spinners on this already deteriorating pitch my slow lollipop bowling will be annihilated. What I find strange is that everyone with a known allegiance or sympathy to the SLP believe that Allen Chastanet's inability to communicate in kweyol is a significant deficiency in his qualifications to be the Prime Minister of St. Lucia.Likewise those with the opposite view are apparently non supporters of the SLP. Our obvious partisan political biases neuters the objectivity of our vaunted positions and renders our googlies mere no balls. The ability to speak kweyol is an asset when communicating with some sections of the St. Lucian population. We all know that. But Allan Chastanet's inability to communicate fluently in kweyol by no means disqualifies him from being the Prime Minister of this Fair Helen. Basta!
    Amatus Edwards: Urban Dolor, sorry for not having addressed your question. The truth is that this is a non issue in the current scheme of things as a leader would only be speaking to one group at a time which ever way that you turn and twist it. The others would have to be accommodated otherwise. So, the deaf will suffer, those who are not tuned to the broadcast at the time will suffer, etc
How do you people know about Chastanet's understanding about the pains and suffering of the country? Is it because he came from a wealthy family? Come on! Will he be taking decisions all by himself assuming that you are correct on that score?
Please guys find another point of contention. We have so many doctors administering medicine to Lucians and can't speak a word of kweyol. There must be more risk there to even life. We have a sizable population of differently-abled people for whom we make little accommodation but we are fussing over AC can't speak kweyol. How many people who listen to politicians in SLU that can't understand ACs english? UD would know that there are more folks who can't understand and speak kweyol than there are who can't understand English.
      Allan Amedee: I think that immersion in one's cultural heritage in representing people should not be overlooked. Whilst i will not lay great preponderance and pre eminence by that stall. However, it would assert one's familiarity and awareness with the plight and well being with the people that one is purporting to represent. It's an understanding effect. However, I think that the debate should be elevated to do justice to SLU on the competence of the individuals to lead our fair isle. i'm not and yet to be convinced. Mr Chastanet is a damn Lucian and no doubt a good one. So the juvenile, infantile mutterings of whether or not he speaks kweyol is simply political knock about and part of his vulnerability which should have been fore saw by those who elected him. But, a man who is not even sure of winning a seat is chosen to lead and we're all thinking that he is the NEW MESSIAH. Frankly, we've all gone BARMY LOOPY

     Jimmy Haynes: Allan, I find it quite amusing as I listen to people say that Allen Chastanet cannot win a seat. The fact is that he did not win the Soufriere/Fond St. Jacques seat in 2011. Does that mean that he cannot win a seat in 2016 or whenever the General Elections are called? Come again guys, like you said Allan, " I think that the debate should be elevated to do justice to SLU on the competence of the individuals to lead our fair isle."

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