Goodbye, Auntie Tantie. May our country continue to benefit from your wisdom and fervour. As you depart, I wonder what has changed during your service as the first female President of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago.
Early in your tenure, I was inspired by your visit to Sea Lots on that Friday evening. Then you embraced Auntie Tantie as a “badge of honour” and had the Tantie courage to pelt bouf at our parliamentarians whenever you had the opportunity.
Throughout your term in office, you have shown empathy for our people, and I recall being stunned by your statement, “People are hurting, and they feel parliamentarians are not listening.”
‘If you are seen to treat each other with respect, courtesy, and good humour, there can be a trickle-down effect and eventual cascade. But when acrimony, contempt, and divisiveness is the example you set, you cannot be surprised when those attitudes and behaviours are replicated on the nation’s roads, in our schools and homes, and on social media.
You continued in that address and said to the Parliamentarians:
Unfortunately, it seems that your messages have fallen on the ears of 41 tone-deaf Parliamentarians who are focused on how they can benefit personally yet have zero empathy for the daily pain citizens are experiencing.
You are leaving office and the country continues to be in deep crisis as captured by your statement: “I fear we have become a savage people. Lines drawn between ethnicities, political affiliations, the haves, and the have-nots, worker, and employer, citizens and migrants have solidified into intolerance, impatience, unkindness, vitriol, and in many cases, downright nastiness…”
In that single statement, you have captured the key issues which our politicians should be addressing.
As the population awaits the selection of your successor, I am hopeful that the new President will be able to use his/her office and weekly meetings to encourage the Prime Minister to focus on the need to redesign our antiquated and mal-functioning systems and processes.
Although your departure provides another opportunity for a new beginning, I would prefer that your successor takes your lead, and carries forward the message that politicians should allow the plight of people to be the impetus for policy change.
Auntie Tantie … Thanks for your service and may your universe unfold exactly as you wish.