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Letter: Why Grenada's Nazim Burke is unique
Published on February 20, 2014 Email To Friend    Print Version

Dear Sir:

Senator Nazim Burke’s stunning attitude of reconciliation after his election as leader of the National Democratic Congress (NDC), has reassured supporters and party members that after living under the Mitchell NNP government for the last 11 months, and undergoing such critical economic hardship, that they have a future under the new leadership, and what will soon become the NDC government.

Most people have always realized that this disaster of a government simply can’t go on for much longer and so Mr Burke is inviting all politicians to help build a “Rainbow country”. Although there may be some discomfort within the NNP government and among the NNP politicians that Senator Burke, a respected NDC politician, would become the next prime minister of the tri-Island. True to his generous spirit he is sending a message that the Mitchell NNP government must not be allowed to prevent the people of Grenada from obtaining a better future. “A new period has begun,” says Senator Nazim Burke, as he is engaging vigorously with mainstream Grenadian Organizations and businessmen.

Senator Burke continues, “One way leaders generate moral authority is by being willing to challenge their own base at times- and not just the other side. It is easy to lead by telling your own base what it wants to hear. It is easy to lead when you are giving things away. It is easy to lead when you dress l like a teenager and start acting like them, it is easy to lead when things are going well.

“But what’s really difficult is getting your society to do something big and hard together. And the only way to do that is by not only asking the other side’s base to do something hard. In the Mitchell NNP government case, asking Grenadians to come together for the good of the NNP, because that’s exactly what they mean when they say country. They want wage freeze and expect more sacrifices from our poor, when at the same time the government is expanding their wage bill and their ministers taking salary increases and only getting richer. This will not work.

“The government needs to trust the people with the truth, rather than just telling them what they want to hear. Leaders who trust the people with the truth, hard truths, are trusted back. Leaders who don’t generate anxiety and uncertainty in their followers, who usually deep down know the truth and are not really relieved, at least for long, by having it ignored or disguised.”

Through Senator Burke’s uncommon humility and his willingness to trust the people of Grenada with the truth, today he is creating a hopeful space where enough Grenadians trust each other so they could unite and do the hard work of transition together. What is so inspiring about Burke is that he did not make the moment of the NDC Convention transition about himself. It was not about the lies told about him during the NNP electoral campaign. It was not about the need for retribution. It was about seizing a really big moment to go from deputy political leader to leader of a major political party without stopping for revenge.

He did not make himself the hope; he saw his leadership challenge as inspiring hope in others, so they would do the hard work of reconciliation. It was in that sense, that moment that he accomplished big things by making himself smaller than the moment. He is getting people to transcend their past, rather than to wallow in it. So much of Grenada’s politics today is about “shifting,” not elevating people. So much of the NNP politics today is about how they narrowcast to this poll-tested demographic in their constituency to get just enough votes to shift to their side to give them just enough to win office, but not to govern or do anything big and hard.

Let’s hope that Senator Nazim Burke’s leadership genius will be his ability to enlist a critical mass of Grenadians to elevate, to go to a new place, not just shift a few votes at the margin. The NDC must continue to build sustainable democratic alternatives, this is a big hard project, and it can only be done together. And it turns out that generating that unity of purpose and focus still requires a leader, but the right leader.

Grenadians are craving genuine leadership -- leaders who lead by their moral authority, to inspire, to elevate and to enlist us in a shared journey. Certainly in Grenada there is no one in the current NNP leadership who even remotely approached Mandela’s visionary statue.

If only a Mandela could emerge from either the NNP or the NDC side to do in Grenada what Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela did for South Africa, who can lead them beyond the politics of resentment, revenge, and small mindedness, to a society that offers true democracy and peace to every Grenadian.

Today our people are rejecting leaders like Keith Mitchell who rule by the formal authority of his position and command by hierarchical power.

What would be Senator Nazim Burke’s legacy for his party and the country? In short, Senator Burke can become a moral icon of the highest order with real flaws and limitations-as with any real life person. He can become the best leader Grenada will ever know, and he will definitely become the next elected Grenadian prime minister. That’s why he is unique.

God continually bless our country and people.

Helen Grenade
 
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