If you are a consistent reader of my columns you would know I have unlimited admiration for the composer of some of the world’s most phenomenal love songs – Burt Bacharach. The idea to write this piece came on Saturday morning when I was listening to a Burt Bacharach CD while jogging in the National Park. When I heard the cut, “Promises, Promises” immediately, for some strange reason, the promise of the Mayor to Courtney Crum Ewing’s parents came into my head. I don’t know why. Of course, it is moments like these that people get a single idea to write a song, a column etc.
So here I am writing on promises made by the Mayor of Georgetown, Hamilton Green, to this nation at the funeral of assassinated activist, Courtney Crum Ewing in March, 2015. I was one of two MCs for the funeral programme at the Parade Ground.
In his address, the Mayor said that the section on Carmichael Street where Crum Ewing carried out his daily vigil protesting against the then Attorney-General’s taped message to attack the Kaieteur News would be named after the murdered protestor.
We are into the eleventh month since the Mayor made that promise. It was expected that the City Council could not have gone ahead with the naming ceremony because it would have faced political and legal rejection by the PPP regime. The question, then, is what has happened since May 2015 when the PPP Government was dissolved in the 2015 election results?
Is it possible that there are legal procedures to be dealt with before the square could be named? If yes, does it involve Parliament? I was told that it does not. Why then, has the plan not been implemented?
Was Mr. Green just grand-standing? When there are large crowds at public gatherings, politicians tend to suffer adrenalin rush and they make outlandish promises. But all times, a politician must be sensitive to the ambience he/she is part of when he/she sinks him/herself in emotional vocabularies. This was not a funeral of a popular figure that died from natural causes but an anti-government political activist who was killed while advocating that voters go out and change an undemocratic government.
A politician should not and must not use such a solemn occasion to promote saccharine rhetoric. It will backfire if the promises cannot be kept. But there is another dimension that is hugely sensitive. The murdered man’s parents heard the promises. Why would the City Council think they are not interested in the promises made? In fact they are.
Courtney’s mother spoke to me on more than one occasion about her curiosity in the delay.
Is it a delay or a promise that was designed for the occasion and it has vanished and gone? The delay theory cannot hold water. We are into the ninth month of a government headed by men and women that spoke at Crum Ewing’s funeral. What is so complicated that the square cannot be named? A part of New Garden Street was re-fashioned for Shivnarine Chanderpaul.
In the situation with the Carmichael Street spot there is no legal entanglement with re-naming because it does not involve renaming. Carmichael Street will not have a new appellation. There is a section of the parapet that takes in a piece of the parapet on both Carmichael Street and Middle Street that will be designated Courtney Crum-Ewing Square. In fact, a statue will not hinder access to both streets at all.
The Mayor of Georgetown is gone from politics in six week’s time. I want to take the liberty of saying ‘gone from politics’ because I doubt he will be an influential player in the next City Council. Secondly, Mr. Green’s presence in the PNC, the lead stratum in the APNU grouping, will no longer be decisive in any meaningful way in the future.
At his age, I think we may be seeing the conclusion of Mr. Green’s career. But it is an inelegant and disappointing way to ride out. Once a new Council is elected, the Crum Ewing plan may be shelved. It wasn’t that Council who made the decision and they may want to hear arguments as to why that spot should be a memorial to the murdered activist.
The question – is the Crum Ewing naming decision now a dead issue? I hope not and I don’t think so for many reasons including a very potent one; some of us will not let it die; some of us will struggle for its implementation. We can avoid that possibility by the authorities doing what Green promised Courtney’s parents.
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