We don’t discuss politics much on Islandista, namely because women are still quite under-represented in our regional houses of assembly, so there’s not as much to discuss as we’d like.
And quite often, where women aren’t under-represented, they are undermined. There have been many capable and intelligent Caribbean female politicians who have waited and waited in the shadows of charismatic male political leaders/mentors to get their chance at leadership, only to be undermined in some way or form – usually by the same mentor who can’t let go of power.
Former Jamaican Prime Minister Portia Simpson-Miller knows all about it. Barbados’ Opposition Leader Mia Mottley is now learning about it.
But Trinidad & Tobago’s Opposition MP Kamla Persad-Bissessar could write the book on it.
Every Trini or political junkie islandista recalls her betrayal by mentor Basdeo Panday back in the heat of T&T’s 2007 elections, when he chose to lead the party again along with Jack Warner after saying he was not interested in the leadership. This after the loyal Kamla had risen to the task as the party’s leader during Panday’s enforced absence from Parliament.
And people still talk about her (in?) famous ‘No Woman No Cry’ speech at a rally during that elections where she vowed her loyalty to the party but said:
“I want to tell my political enemies close to me and far away that Kamla is a woman who gets knocked down, but she gets up again and they are never going to keep me down.
… I never sought to betray this party. I never sought to hold the supporters to ransom… And I never left it. I have never walked out because things weren’t going my way.
… I have worked too long and too hard for both the party and the country and I am not about to give up now.”
But still, she took the insult, sucked salt and stayed loyal to the party and Panday – unlike Maharaj and Jack.
But is the time for that coming to an end?
Last month Kamla announced her intention to contest the leadership of the UNC, declaring:
“No-one is ever going to keep me down again…no one!”
Many will say it’s about damn time and point to how the UNC has been devouring itself amidst a pack of the raging male political egos of Ram, Jack and Bas.
Other may say that Kamla is not strong enough to lead the party to victory, especially with wily politicians like Manning and of course Ram, Jack and Bas about the place.
Interestingly enough though, a recent poll by the North American Teachers Association (NACTA) has said that Kamla will win by a landslide.
So what do my Trini islandistas and politically-minded islandistas think?
Will it be, as the people say, ‘woman time now‘ for Kamla?