I used to think that blacks who had a history of being enslaved would have abhorred anything that resembled the vestiges of slavery. We can recall the plantation and the great house that became a symbol of the power base of those who enslaved us and many looked on with anguish at what the great house represented. To the untrained eye one would have thought that those blacks looking on would have wanted to demolish the great house and some of our ancestors who fought the slave owners did just that. On the other hand there were some who looked on but had no desire to demolish the great house, they wanted to occupy the great house. Now if they had just been admirers of the architectural beauty of the great house, that would have been understandable but they wanted to partake of the fruits of the great house.
And if you had asked them if what the occupiers of the great house did to their slaves was an act of man’s inhumanity to man, they might have agreed but with a touch of sympathy because they knew deep down, that if it had been them in the great house, they would have acted just the same.
This brings me to the act of injustice being meted out to Chris Gayle by the West Indies Cricket Board who has steered a path guaranteed to frustrate Gayle as they plot on how to ensure that he never plays for the West Indies again. They may not succeed but if we keep quiet, they may. After all it was Professor Beckles, who told us some months ago that the West Indies Cricket Board was trying to eradicate “donmanship” from West Indies Cricket after previously describing Chris Gayle as the “don”; and he should know since he is a member of that West Indies Board.
Pat Rousseau has already outlined the procedure that the Board has for settling disputes and disciplinary infractions, none of which have been employed in addressing the issues with Gayle and no reasons have been proffered for not following the prescribed course of action which would involve the disciplinary committee. So if it is that Gayle said things in that radio interview that the Board is upset about, they should address the matter in the prescribed manner and not let it fester like a sore. And we the public, the real stakeholders should not sit quietly by.
For many years, West Indies players have been treated, not as the most important ingredient in West Indies cricket but as the hewers of wood and the drawers of water, to be discarded when they were perceived to be no longer as useful by those with the power so to do. So they were supposed to take what they got and keep their mouth shut and feel lucky that they had been given an opportunity to represent the West Indies. Times have changed. Kerry Packer changed the equation many years ago and the IPL and 20/20 cricket is changing the equation again but what about the nature of the relationship between the players and the Board? How is that changing?
We know a bit about the history of the West Indies Board, which had its roots tied to the colonial powers but one would have thought that in 2011, things would have been markedly different and that there would have been a desire to see that justice was done but sadly that is where the Great House Syndrome comes in. We seem to have simply changed the occupants of the Great House.
One could argue that if the Board had a real stake in the ownership like a Kerry Packer did or the owners of sports franchises in the United States, they would not act in such a manner because they would recognize the importance of not allowing issues to linger and remain unresolved, which would be inimical to their own self interest. But alas these are little boys who have been handed a toy to play with that they did not even have to buy with their pocket money so if it gets broken, no big deal; and we the public should not sit by and say nothing. History is replete with examples of what happens when the holders of power have no self correcting mechanism for handling change from within.