Nov 11, 2017
In an article by Moses Nagamootoo in the Chronicle headlined, “Phantom of the Opera,” he applies the term to Bharrat Jagdeo. He wrote, “But Opposition Leader, Bharat Jagdeo, one-time president, also wanted centre-stage and, like the Phantom of the Opera, he came back to haunt the House.” A cynical observer of politics can turn around Moses’ application to Jagdeo and use it against him.
Moses chooses the wrong analogy to describe Jagdeo’s narcissism. He would have been better off using a character from the great plays of Tennessee Williams. Jagdeo does not want to accept that life has its beginning and ending. Like the main character in most of
Williams’ plays, Jagdeo refuses to see his time has passed. I can think of Flora “Sissy” Goforth in “The Milk Train Doesn’t Stop Here Anymore,” (made into one of the most boring movies ever; “Boom!” starring husband/wife team – Taylor and Burton).
Moses’ column should have been titled, “Jagdeo relives Tennessee Williams,” instead he chose the play that strongly mirrors his political career, “Phantom of the Opera.” You know who comes to mind when slips like these occur? Sigmund Freud. It is possible deep in his subconscious Moses is aware that the analogy suits him. In real life, Erik is Moses and Christine is Guyana. At the Palais Garnier, Erik demands that Christine play the lead role in “Faust.” In real life Moses demanded that he succeed Cheddi Jagan.
When the theatre’s management refused, terrible consequences followed. The lead actor Charlotte’s voice turns into that of a frog’s and the theatre director is killed by a falling chandelier, all the doings of Erik. He then abducts Christine. The PPP refused Moses his request and terrible consequences followed. Moses went over to the AFC and tore down the PPP. But it is in the ending of the play that bore the most pointed resemblance to Moses’ political evolution.
Erik didn’t want Christine to go with Raoul, but he eventually gave them his blessing and moved on. This is what Moses has done. Like Erik who couldn’t get Christine, Moses couldn’t get Guyana (meaning he couldn’t be president), so he gave Guyana (Christine) to the PNC with his blessing. Throughout the play Erik wears a mask. Is Moses wearing the mask of mediocrity to hide his failure to acquire Guyana (Christine)? Is it not time that someone shouts out “Will the real Nagamootoo please step forward?”
Moses is on the stage daily and the mask is so tightly sewed on that hurricane winds cannot rip it off his visage. One day, he tastes a new variety of mangoes on a farm. Another day, with garland swinging on his neck, he shakes the hands of school children on a visit. On another occasion he can be seen on top of a bicycle testing its effectiveness from a new factory.
On yet another occasion, he is eating a new species of watermelon. He goes to the interior to open a pepper sauce factory. He stops over in Berbice to hand out graduation certificates from a well known Berbice High School. He is in Essequibo gazing at the lovely black belly sheep imported from Barbados. He is in Lethem taking photo shots with rodeo cowboys. He graces the halls of a wing of a new district cottage hospital. He deputizes for the president in sharing out boats, bicycles and buses and the village heads are enthralled. This is the politics of Moses Nagamootoo since 2015.
Where is the transformational politician that has chalked up fifty years in politics? It is fifty years in a country that hollers out for modern changes and has been doing so since the colonials in London “called it George” in Georgetown in 1966.
As a young journalist Moses almost bankrupted the PPP, because it lost a libel suit against Prime Minister Forbes Burnham. The judgement was heavy. Moses wrote that the PM’s fence at Castellani House was electrically wired and a cow stepped onto it and got electrocuted. That was overt forty-five years ago, but the laws of libel in Guyana remain the most anachronistic than most democratic countries.
Is Moses going to change them before he rides away into the sunset which I heard is in 2020? He has the portfolio for constitutional reform, but that looks like it will have to wait until after 2020. So what is the legacy that Moses will leave? I will leave him with a few lines from “the Music of the Night” from the Broadway version of “Phantom of the Opera”
“Close your eyes, for your eyes will only tell the truth,
And the truth isn’t what you want to see,
In the dark it is easy to pretend,
But the truth is what it ought to be”