The National Mother and Grandmother: Looking Prime Ministerial
There’s been a lot of talk online and in person about the Trinidad Express’ story on Kamla Rani’s Louis Vuitton gold hight tops. In many quarters, some believe it was a non-story. In my case, I think it was a cleverly played game of inception (whether the reporter knows it or not). The Express gave us the simple facts: here are the shoes, this is what they cost, this is where you can buy them…and oh, here’s a picture of our PM on stage holding Machel Montano’s hand wearing them….make of it what you will! The real story is not Das Boots…..but what Das Boots represents. Marie Antoinette’s symbol is cake, Imelda Marcos’ is a closet of shoes and Eva Peron’s is everything. These Louis Vs may well be the way we remember the PM’s reign in years to come: a garish, coskelle display of inappropriateness. http://www.trinidadexpress.com/news/Kamla_s_pricey_boots-139413813.html
People like their leaders to look and act, like, well, leaders?
Compare and contrast the two looks to your left.
What a lot of people are choosing to ignore in whether this story about the PM’s shoes is a non-story or not is that, the shoes in and off themselves aren’t the story. But what they symbolise to the population are.
Panday had a billion dollar airport, a London Flat and a bank account become the symbols of his tenure in office. Patrick Manning’s was the waterfront project and the Church in Guanapo. Kamla’s reign may well boil down to what is symbolised by these boots…..opulence and inappropriateness.
From the beginning of her term in office one of the things that has NEVER characterised the PM is hard work. She is seen as a fashion plate…dresses up a lot, flies a lot, has a large entourage and seems to be as blinged out as a rockstar. Not more than two weeks ago newspaper stories arose that since her return from India, where true to form she seemed to be on parade, the PM was hardly in office. Her insecurity adviser flew gallantly to her defence to say that the PM works from several offices. She is the hardest working PM the country has ever had. Yet, while Kamla couldn’t be found at any of her offices during the day and her husband and grandchildren keep asking for her, she has been found at many fetes this past week.
And while there is absolutely nothing wrong with the PM or citizen Kamla enjoying entertainment. There is a lot wrong when your PM’s behaviour is unseemly. It matters little that the boots cost TT$5000. It matters little that the PM can afford them, or that Citizen Kamla can afford them. The real crux of the matter with these boots is what they represent: opulence, luxury and inappropriateness in a time when the citizenry needs examples of austerity and strong leadership.
It is a time of crippling economic austerity for most. We’ve had 0 per cent economic growth for the past 3 years and at every turn Dookeran is promising a blue sky. Daily people can afford less and less on their salaries. In the last 2 years several important industries have either ground to a halt or are experiencing severe pains. Construction is at a halt, the advertising industry is feeling the pain severely, as are farmers, taxi drivers and retail store owners. And these are just the areas that I can personally attest to.
In this time of economic slowdown, with population morale at a low over all the many issues plaguing the society: inept SoE, corrupt and inept police force, regular missteps from COP Gibbs, blunderings and blusterings from the AG, missteps and misspeaks from the PM herself, incompetence from the President, our non-Integrity Commission, raids on media houses that no one but Sgt Koon Koon will accept responsibility for, it just wasn’t the right time to see the PM parading herself in a way that seemed frivolous and inappropriate.
It was silly enough that she came onstage to present an award to soca artiste Benjai that no one seemed to know anything about. To date we don’t know why Benjai got the award or what the award was for and if it was cabinet-approved. And the PM was onstage in her official capacity, not as Citizen Kamla…along with an entourage that included her husband and Minister of National Security. The talk within the HD camp (and I aint naming my sources, Sgt Koon Koon) is that her arrival onstage wasn’t scripted….in short, the government stormed the stage demanding to be let on to make a presentation…..that we are still in the dark about.
The PM in her Louis Vs
And take a moment to really assess Kamla’s image that night: gold boots and camel toe….no one told her the pants weren’t fitting well? Do we really want a PM who dresses like the girls in music videos? Is this what we want to see our PM looking like? Is this the best we can do as a PM: a person who shirks her duties, but finds time to party? Is there a difference between the PM and the average teenager who is all about the look with no substance?
Now down to the boots of the matter. How many of us can say that they are comfortable with Kamla’s constant parading, gallerying and politicking. 20 months and 24 days into her governance and she hasn’t started to do any real work yet? The most amount of work the PM has done for her tenure seems to be handing out checks and awards during the Carnival season. I can’t wait for Soca Monarch.
There is no crime plan in sight (despite her announcing the unveiling of one 2 weeks ago), no action on Gibbs or Warner (probes that are all still pending), and there is a looming crisis in the energy sector. Yet she appears on fete stages regularly to sing Bruno Mars’ songs into microphones or to pass out nameless honours. And the dress code is inappropriate. People want their Prime Ministers to look like leaders, not like mutton dressed as lamb. Something discreet and tasteful, not garish and pricely. I maintain the only thing the PM seemed to be missing that night was powder on her chest and gold teeth…..then she’d be the rockstar that she clearly wants to be….and stop pretending to be the Prime Minister and Stateswoman that she is clearly not cut out to be.
So lemme send a special request to my PM: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SDTZ7iX4vTQ