Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : August 13th 2015 Contents B10
Guardian www.guardian.co.tt Thursday, August 13, 2015
In Zimbabwe’s capital Harare this week, 91-year-
old president Robert Mugabe gave a speech giving
thanks to the country’s freedom fighters who gave
their lives in a long war to achieve independence
35 years ago.
He condemned the killing of Cecil the Lion and
then, as is traditional, criticised Britain; describing
how the colonialists had decapitated Zimbabwean
warriors during the time of empire and displayed
their severed heads at the British Museum. The British
Museum denied this when questioned by a BBC cor-
respondent. Mugabe may have transposed the well-
documented accounts of severed Ethiopian heads in
Italian museums during the days when Mussolini
colonised the country and named it Abyssinia.
Without wishing to compare the Opposition Leader
Keith Rowley to Cecil the Lion, Mugabe or Mussolini
(though the more I think about it, the more I’m envis-
aging him as a hybrid of the trio) it’s clear that some-
body wants his head on a stick too.
That the latest swipe at his gleaming pate came
from a journalist famous for exposing his rivals must
surely have taken Dr Rowley by surprise. Unless, of
course, it didn’t.
Unless, of course, Rowley gravely misjudged the
intentions of Trinidad’s most recognisable newspaper
reporter Anika Gumbs when she visited his house in
Unless he still felt intoxicated by the musk of his
own uber-male prowess and the lasting high of wining
on that 17-year-old temptress at south Carnival and
took leave of literally all his senses.
Unless he’s been waking up at night in cold sweats—
bareback of course—from a night terror in which bees
are attacking Gumbs from all sides and he’s fighting
them off while his feet are stuck fast in gooey honey.
Unless the nightmare had him clawing at her tat-
tooed back as it contorted into a fleshy map of the
world while Rowley screamed, “Is it a country? Please,
just tell me if this is the outline of a country!”
Unless the nightly hauntings culminated with the
tattooed investigative journalist transforming herself
into a beautiful blue Emperor butterfly with the face
of his lovely wife Sharon and fluttering away towards
the sun, laughing at his naked form as crowds gathered
round and he curled himself up into a foetal position
to protect his modesty as the butterfly cried out,
shrilly, “It’s all part of being chic, Dr Rowley, It’s all
part of being chic...”
Unless...unless... No. I’ve run out of unlesses.
I’m not saying that Rowley didn’t make the most
misguided pass in the history of misguided passes,
but, well...I don’t even know what I’m saying anymore.
Should I say he probably didn’t? Or that even if he
did it wasn’t sexual harassment? Or that Gumbs is
not the kind of person to be traumatised by the sight
of a man bereft of a shirt?
Personally, I am most traumatised by just imagining
what else Gumbs thinks is chic. Baby powder on the
chest? Tinted spectacles? Crocs? Jheri curls? Vajazzles?
I went to Gumbs’ Facebook page to look at her
selfies and try to get a handle on her wardrobe choices
for the coming season. Were the pants suits working
for her, I wondered as I typed her name into the
search bar. But what is this? She’d deleted me!
“Should I add her back?” I thought, knowing the
correct answer to be “no.” Not on the morning that
Butterflygate had broken.
I had befriended Gumbs (nee Gumbs-Sandiford,
nee Gumbs) on Facebook some days after she had
walked out of the Guardian during my second week
on the job. Up until that point she had barely spoken
to me in real life and I, still fresh off the boat, found
her quite scary.
Having arrived still wet behind the ears from my
North London middle-class utopian UK Guardian
cocoon, my desk at the T&T Guardian was just a few
feet away from the “investigative team” consisting
of Gumbs and Denyse Renne, a colleague who also
walked out along with Dr Sheila Rampersad in July
I was perplexed by their journalistic style
which seemed to involve making harassing
telephone calls, getting hung up on, and
repeatedly ringing back. Instead of coaxing
answers out of sources, their approach was
more like haranguing and bewildering a per-
son until they broke. Of all the people in
the newsroom they seemed the least likely
journalists, and yet their jobs were the most
This all changed on the day they walked
out when a suddenly sheepish uncertainty
prevailed and they hung around their desks
unsure of what to do.
Was this a vulnerable side? Signs of a per-
sonality that might be “too embarrassed to
comment” on a shirtless opposition leader?
A wilting flower whose response to inap-
propriate flirting would be to go “numb...
mentally.” Somehow, I find that hard to
There are many questions to answer over
her resignation, the decision to publish and
indeed not to publish for many months. But
when all is said and done, this story says
more about the downgraded role of both
media and politics in T&T society than about
the reporter, newspaper or political leader—
all of whom came across as comedy figures
for a brief moment.
Twenty-four hours later, people had
moved on with their lives. Rowley’s denial
came, people laughed, social media turned
its attention to Grenada J’ouvert. Cecil’s head
was still intact.
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