The day began with cautious peacefulness. It remained like that for most of the day; people cautious, but peaceful. They came out very early to vote. It was the ballot of a lifetime; change beckoned. The vast majority wanted it. Some others, like Hammie and his cabal, didn’t. Long lines meandered around polling places. People felt good on being able to freely cast a ballot. They were confident their votes would have counted. This freeness to so vote was because Uncle Jimmy and his team from his Centre were watching. They watched closely.
Uncle Cheddi and his Party worked for years for such a day to dawn. They also worked hard for Uncle Jimmy’s team to be present. Uncle Desi, the Prezie then, was forced to accept. Remember when he had said he would dedicate his life to ensure that Uncle Cheddi never become Prezie? Well he had to eat his words after. Hammie never wanted to accept Uncle Jimmy’s team. He and his henchmen had other ideas.
As the end of the day neared, plenty confusion broke out in GT after Hammie’s loyalists claimed that they were not allowed to cast their ballot. This was just an excuse to create mayhem. The peace that prevailed earlier was threatened. Uncle Desi extended the deadline for the ballot-casting. More confusion. Some in charge of the polling booths didn’t know in other parts of this big country, so they closed up at the time agreed to prior. While they may not have known, some who turned up after the original closing time and claimed they came to vote, knew.
If your memory is not as bad as Hammie’s, you would remember that them days ain’t had cell phones. Even electricity was scarce. So when the sun downed, things got more scary. At the place of poll where I was, plenty people who voted already for Hammie’s Party, turned up to vote again. They cited Uncle Desi’s extension. The officer in charge didn’t know. Remember no cell phones or communication devices were in possession. A dangerous situation brewed as the only candle was about to burn out.
They unruly crowd advanced menacingly up the very long stairs. The only policeman on duty was unarmed. He looked at the staff as if he was instructing them to jump twenty feet down to avoid the gang. Fortunately, more police came. The gang scooted. The policemen said GT was in chaos. People were looting. Uncle Jimmy and others, including Freddie, were basically trapped in the Elections head office due to Hammie’s supporters including the looters. The looters ran to the House of Freedom in Robb Street. Uncle Desi eventually sent the soldiers to protect the occupants there.
The freedom and change that everybody, including Freddie, woke up that morning expecting, was now severely under threat. To make matters worse, sometime later that night without the votes finished counting and Uncle Jimmy pronouncing, Hammie announced that his Party had won. One man, a big man, drop down with heart attack. He later survived. He said he would have preferred the heart attack than to endure Hammie’s Party again. Hammie continued to talk on the radio. He said Uncle Desi was a school boy and should go back to school.
He called Uncle Desi a school boy because the Prezie caved in to pressure to have Uncle Jimmy present. Uncle Desi was worried, but didn’t give in to Hammie. He was worried that if he had to go back to school, where would he find uniform to fit him, and that he wasn’t accustomed to catching public transportation which was only two buses then. The looting continued just as Hammie continued to “school-boy” Uncle Desi. One man was seen running gleefully with two bales of toilet paper! Yes, he looted toilet paper. His photograph was big in the papers. It just showed how precious a commodity toilet paper was then. You forget the newspapers and feed bags?
Eventually, after much looting and chaos over the next day or so, Uncle Jimmy pronounced. He announced that Uncle Cheddi had won and that Uncle Desi will go into the Opposition. The country erupted in excitement. The changed had indeed happened. It wasn’t a dream. Hammie thought it was a dream. He never dreamt of being in the Opposition. He got his wishes a week or so after. Uncle Desi kicked him out of the Party. Uncle Desi took umbrage at the “school-boy” talk.
So whenever this October 5th day comes around, my memory remembers the events seventeen years back. I remember that if it wasn’t for Uncle Cheddi and his Party’s vigilance and if Hammie had had his way, the freedom and change that came with that day would have remained a dream and Uncle Desi would have been forced back to school. These memories should not be forgotten. If it wasn’t for that day, Freddie and his cohorts wouldn’t be basking in the freedom of expression they now enjoy. Right Freddie?