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State House on Victoria Street, Roseau
State House on Victoria Street, Roseau

What is a palace, what is malice? Well, the two only have one thing in common, that is a good place in Calypso for a good lyrical tune. A palace (fortress) by definition is an official residence of sovereign, a state house, a grandeur building with an imposing ornate style used for functions and entertainment.

Like London Bridge, palaces have a way of falling down not necessarily physically but politically. In recent times we have seen the Haitian Palace demolished by a major hurricane. Saddam had many palaces; he was picked up in a pit in Bagdad. Poor fella – you would have thought with the many palaces he would have sought sanctuary in one of them. He was later hanged, a gruesome site to witness. Three Dominican Presidents were kicked out or unceremoniously vacated their Presidential Palaces, first Degazon (who fled Dominica in the dark of night) and second Sir Cools-Lartigue, the latter really did not have time to be sworn in, his electricity was cut and his house was burnt during Dominica's May 29th 1979, under current President Savarin then union revolutionary leader.

Ghaddafi cried for 7 years more in power just to celebrate 50 years as a dictator in his dessert tent palace. He fell and was also picked up in a pit, dragged inhumanely in the streets by citizens who had enough and then summarily shot him. In this day and age "questionable leaders" continue to build palaces when poor people live in poor housing, abject poverty and reduced to beggars to their political leaders for their daily bread and handouts and yet some politicians still do not learn from these lessons. Build your palace papa, build...Allez Fe bagay.

Chavez constructed a palace of "loyal friends" around him. He wanted to live and rule until 80, fate got to him and he asked God for seven more years, God responded with seven months. His palace of support dropped from 10% lead in his last contested elections, and his successor only managed 0.8%, a close margin. So what was this entire hooray about? He is gone and his palace died with him. He did not build people; he built concrete structures ("we can't eat concrete") and bought loyalty and fanfare abusing states funds and resources. It was all about "Chavez", "My Brother" and not of meaningful and sustainable development. The results of the last elections proved that.

Hitler, Pinochet and Marcos ravaged their respective countries and Jean-Bédel Bokassa a military officer, was the head of state of the Central African Republic and its successor state, the Central African Empire. Bokassa ended his days as a recluse in his VILLA in Bangui and died of a heart attack in 1996, aged 75. His once opulent palace in which he was said to have slept surrounded by gold and diamonds fell into ruins, his dozens of children living there in rags. Bokassa, it is said fathered 62 children and his coronation, based on that of Napoleon, cost his country's entire GDP.

Closer home, in the Haitian Palace located in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, these very poor people qued up to receive handouts and crumbs from their palace masters dressed and paraded in ceremonial robs and gave that ceremonial wave to their begging subjects. In Dominica Skerrit sent out envelops and got poor Dominicans to queue at the reception of the Financial Centre and waited their turn to climb the many stairs to the Red Clinic Palace, but in Haiti the poor dare not and were not allowed to enter the court yard of the Haitian palace. All these leaders and their actions had a taste of illegality, abused their powers and disrespected not only their country`s constitution but the people In Libya it was replaced with a Green BOOK – in Dominica, "No...Law...No Constitution, Go to Hell etc...."

In 1714, Mogosoaia Palace in Bucharest, Romania was changed into an inn. Aubry de la Montraye, the French traveler who visited the palace and lived inside on October 14, 1714, put down a beautiful description of that building: He said, "… at about 7 o'clock, we passed by a pretty big and grand edifice. We asked the guide what it might be. The man answered it had been a palace called Mogosoaia, built by the late Wallachia's ruler. We were curious to enter and see it; we found it very even, built in European manner and adorned inside with rich ceilings and good painting, but the Porte's employees had taken the furniture after its unhappy owner had been dethroned. The palace was afterwards changed into an inn for travelers' needs."

Be careful what you build – you never know when and how it may crumble on you.


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