Thank you for the inspiration Margaret Thatcher - Baltimore Post-ExaminerBaltimore Post-Examiner

Thank you for the inspiration Margaret Thatcher

(President Bush awards Margaret Thatcher with the United States Presidential Freedom Award  in 1991. Public Domain.)

“To those waiting with bated breath for that favorite media catchphrase, the U-turn, I have only one thing to say: You turn if you want to. The lady’s not for turning.” – Baroness Margaret Thatcher: 1925 – 2013

No doubt, my favorite Margaret Thatcher quote.

I did not grow up in England, where I would have better felt the winter, autumn, spring and summer of Margaret Thatcher’s words and ways. That is the infinite nature and beauty of the presence of the soul and perhaps the media too.

To declare my bias, one of the better reasons I admired England’s first and only female Prime Minister is her point of disagreement with one of her best allies, former US President Ronald Reagan. Unlike Dominica’s now deceased and first and only female Prime Minister — Dame Eugenia Charles, Margaret Thatcher disagreed with President Reagan’s decision to invade Grenada back in 1983.

Dame Charles’s decision to back the US in this operation was seen by many Grenadians as a betrayal of Grenada and its people. Thatcher, on the other hand, did not support the move and will be held in high regard by those Grenadians who followed world politics, especially those who remember that never forgotten moment in Grenada’s history.

More meaningfully and personally, I became enamored by Baroness Thatcher’s brilliant speeches. Yes, I was inflamed with love for her leadership. Her death must be the life of me. I must not fall asleep on the inspiration that her life and death brings in the moment.

In all my praise for this great woman, I am fully aware of the hatred and dissent “the Iron Lady” would have bred in many quarters of her reach and interests.

Margaret Thatcher, for me, was the world.  While having no problems with those who feel contrary, I cannot with a level head on my shoulders douse her with kerosene and light a match as she has not pained me in ways others were pained by her actions. Instead, she was a light in my darkness.

It’s purely through the eyes of a child that I speak these words, for it was in that time she had such an impact on my life and experiences. My words of how the leadership of the first and only female Prime Minister of England impacted my life are few. It is the history of my background that makes my admiration of her relevant and her leadership my guiding compass.

As a child I wanted to be many things. One of the first careers I had my eyes on was that of becoming a detective. That inspiration went deeper after reading the book “Emilio and the Detectives”, one of my favorites as a child. I read it over and over and over again…no less than five times, probably ten times. It brings a smile to reminisce on that book, a smile at how I pictured myself as the child detective saving lives and fixing my country; making it the best place to live.

Growing up with a family of strong academics and absorbing their conversations, my mind was always sniffing at the prize. Something all parents and Guardians take an interest in, or should take a keen interest in. Not the folks I grew up with, I was not their child, and to them, it didn’t seem to matter how I turned out.

As a child I was a voracious reader, writing my first book of poetry at the age of 13. It was all about love, the love lacking in a family that did not know how to show it — A reality that would numb me in the years to come, never looking for love from anyone or to be loved by anyone.

From this I know that children understand too well the language of a dysfunctional family that does not show love and of not being loved. It was the power of the dream and the purity of my childhood innocence that kept me strong — that developed my survival instincts.

Then Maurice Bishop happened and by the speeches, something was happening to me. My mind evolved quickly. I loved writing stories and poems and would write a piece of fiction ever so often … as my mind thinketh. My mind raced faster than my thoughts — how I had to rush the ideas on to my writing paper. Yes, I was inspired by Bishop as was the family I grew up with.

At the age of eight, a family member took me to a political meeting in the St. George’s market square in Grenada where Prime Minister Bishop addressed Grenadians in a large rally. He was the supreme orator, and whenever he opened his mouth, he had something meaningful to orate about.

By the time I was nine, I wanted to join the army of the People’s Revolutionary Government. With much excitement I told my aunt of this dream. She was the perfect seamstress, and was in front of the machine as always putting a piece of garment together. When she heard the news that I wanted to join the army, she paused her peddling of the machine and replied: “Well, if that’s what you want then someday when you become of age you can go.”

I was looking forward to it.

One year later in 1983, Maurice Bishop was assassinated and my dreams of becoming a detective and joining the People’s Revolutionary Army died with him. Despite my young age, I was strongly connected to the politics of that time. Whatever inkling I felt for the politics of the day had become subdued with those bloody events that has forever marked Grenada’s political history as violent.

About five years later that bloodied day was still soaking into the psyche of the Grenadian people; especially me, because I still had a dream, no longer to become a detective, but to become Grenada’s first female Prime Minister. Bishop’s socialist policies, his massive rallies, his oratory skills, presenting the national budget to the people at national rallies, just his style of leadership was engraved in my mind and memory for a lifetime. Never to be forgotten. I do not forget.

Again I sought to capture the interest of the family of my youth by very casually announcing that I wanted to be Grenada’s first woman Prime Minister, but no one paid attention, at least not for me to notice. The only thing I noticed was that the already abusive environment that I was growing up in had become even more intensely abusive. The spark in me started to slowly leave, the fire and drive I had for everything was violently abused into submission.

On leaving primary school, I came first in class, scored almost a 100 percent overall, the highest mark was in English Language, I got 99 percent because I had misspelled one word. It did not matter; I was on my way to big school as we called it – secondary school and on my way to fulfilling my dream.

The family I lived with was intense followers of politics and media. They loved both and so did I. They were brilliant, could analyze anything and understood the different roles and responsibilities exercised by different institutions everywhere. They understood too well the importance of the separation of journalism from politics. And I learned well since then. That understanding grew inside of me, never thinking I will become a journalist one day. It was my destiny, a career wheel steered by opportunity. It should not have surprised me. All the signs were there. I never missed the news, rushed the Caribbean news magazine presented by the BBC’s Debbie Ransome every day.  From the age of twelve I engaged my cousin Elvis in heated arguments about world politics. Even told him that China will someday be the world super power and America will be third in line because Japan will be right behind China. My mind conceived the greatest of outcomes not just because I was an avid reader in my childhood years, but because of my spiritual gifts. Magazines on business, art and world politics were not spared my interests in reading materials.

I relished in my fights with Elvis, mainly because I loved him. He loved America; like Bishop, I hated them cause I thought they behaved as though they presided over every country. I resented that!

I was the lawyer, prosecutor and judge of all my arguments with others. Then it surfaced in my feisty head that I want to be a judge. That was final. My very talented but deranged, impervious and egotistic aunt always murmured under her nose how the child wants to become a lawyer. She was talking about me. I would later learn that it was not that family’s plan for my life and if they could help it they would see to it that it did not happen.

My aunt had a major confusion going on inside of her. She quarreled all day about everything and anything — I looked forward to sunsets and going to bed because of her constant bickering. In one of her spats with me, she blurted out that I was jealous of her and her children, that I wanted to be bright like her children, and that I will never be bright like them. I was thirteen years of age at the time, did not even quite process the true meaning of jealousy yet. My mind and body started growing tired of the tyranny of that woman who was my father’s sister. She’s dead now, but I could not get it out of my mind how it bothered her so deeply that I wanted to be a lawyer someday.

By then, the soul of Maurice Bishop was growing stronger in me; it was brought to life by the grit and indomitable spirit of another political world figure. Margaret Thatcher, “the Iron Lady”, a firm and gracious leader. I lived for her speeches.

Margaret Thatcher had a ground-breaking personality. Her words reached the depth of my consciousness, removing the dirt of neglect and abuse that was threatening to bury my dream.

I had one problem. I was still in Auntie Rita’s house.

Every time I showed courage, she had an overdose of discouragement and doubt to feed my spirit. But Margaret Thatcher was the stuff a mentor was made of. My constant thoughts of her bravery, leadership and penetrating words kept the flame burning in me.

“To those waiting with bated breath for that favorite media catchphrase, the U-turn, I have only one thing to say: You turn if you want to. The lady’s not for turning.”  This is absolutely my favorite Thatcher quote of all time. She delivered it in a message to the Conservative conference in 1980 (England).

Her colorful style as a world leader makes all the descriptions of her, good or bad, very fitting to her nature. She was “loved, loathed and never ignored” as one British journalist put it.

Women in politics and those aspiring to be in politics have lost a gold mine of knowledge in the passing of Margaret Thatcher.

My dream of meeting her before her passing was never realized; I certainly loved and adored her and will miss her forceful political fists and wit. I will always remember what she meant to me in my darkest and imprisoned moments as a child with a dream.

Loving journalism and media, I never thought it was my calling, though it should not surprise me coming from a family that loves media and politics side by side. Do forgive my redundancy of stressing again… that the good thing about the family I grew up with is that they understood the dangers of conflicting interests between journalism and politics. I learned of the wisdom on the separation of both professions even before knowing one day I would be a journalist. I never imagined the possibility since my mentors were politicians like Maurice Bishop and Margaret Thatcher.

Powerful world figures like Thatcher helped my love for politics to bloom and grow. Though I think it is too late to become Grenada’s first female Prime Minister. I lost too much time being consumed by the disrepair inflicted on me through a broken childhood. Unless I decide to live like I will live to see 87 years of age, just like Thatcher did to this day; I can then start over.

Her death must be the life of me. I must not fall asleep on the reignited inspiration her death has brought on in the moment. Neither must Trinidad and Tobago’s first female Prime Minister, Mrs. Kamla Persad Bissessar SC.

As one of the female political leaders I admire, it is my hope that she understands the importance and symbolism of being first woman Prime Minister, as other young female aspirants of politics seek role models that can seriously help steer their dream into the political arena. For Kamla Persad Bissessar also, Thatcher’s death must be the life of her; she must not fall asleep on the inspiration that Baroness Thatcher’s life and death has sparked in the moment.

Thatcher may have been a tyrant to some, but in my little corner of the world where a family exposed me to all the elements and more, Thatcher’s leadership and words were like a shelter to me. She shone a light in me. That light showed me the way. I love her, I miss her and I weep her passing.

 


About the author

Marcia Braveboy

Marcia Braveboy is a journalist from Grenada based in Trinidad and Tobago. She has over 20 years experience in media; mainly in copy writing, news and broadcast journalism. Braveboy was a senior reporter at Power 102 FM radio, CNC3 television and producer of the investigative Frontline program on CCN’s i95.5 FM talk-radio station. You can follow Marcia on Twitter: @mbraveboy Contact the author.
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