Wed | Apr 26, 2017

My arachnophobia

Published:Monday | June 1, 2015 | 6:01 AM

My fear of spiders is confined to one single type. It's a peculiarly named spider imported from the continent of Africa during the times of the slave trade. His guile allowed Anansi to survive many centuries here in the West.

The folklore Anansi has taken on metaphysical attributes and breached the reality divide to influence an increasing number of our citizens. The more difficult our economic times, the more Anansi spread his ugly, hairy, occult legs to envelop an ever-growing number of converts to his survival techniques.

With his penchant for trickery, supremacy and his single-mindedness for self-protection, Anansi will say and do just about anything to anybody at any time as long as he benefits from whatever he can, when he can.

Anansi can be seen at the traffic lights where windshield wipers hail up motorists as if they were long lost and dear cousins. They rapidly approach vehicles and quickly shower discoloured liquid on windscreens in the expectation that the motorist will pay them to remove it. The suddenness of their approach sometimes robs drivers of the ability to respond in time to evade the unsolicited and unwelcomed 'service'.

 

Anansi alive and well

 

Anansi is alive and well in our constabulary. A prime example is an ageing officer of the law who stopped me for a routine check. However, he proceeded to engage my wife and me in a prolonged and rambling assessment of the new Mount Rosser bypass. My wife made the mistake of commenting on how fortunate he was to be posted in proximity to a popular fast-food establishment.

Having manipulated her into a verbal corner, Anansi struck with deft precision: The officer quickly retorted with the facial expression of sadness and dismay, "But I don't have what it takes to go in there."

Anansi is active in just about every single workplace and business enterprise. There is always someone there finding ways to relieve the proprietors of some income. Twisting, breaking, bending and even circumventing the rules and regulations allow Anansi to shirk duties and responsibilities, to form external alliances for future use and to misappropriate funds as needed.

Anansi flourishes in politics; this is the main arena where his influence permeates every aspect. Our politics not only facilitates Anansi, it nourishes him. Deeply entrenched protectionism, an almost total lack of accountability, repetitive and wasteful spending and access to huge amounts of funds make Anansi salivate uncontrollably.

He calls on every trick that he has ever learnt over the centuries in order to beguile the electorate, bamboozle the supporters, mesmerise the system and frustrate the watchdog organisations to amass power, money and favours for himself and his cohorts.

 

anansi the politician

 

I would never claim that Anansi holds sway over all politicians and/or their affiliates, but he can be seen in the supportive 'masses' and in the upper-level administration. Many grassroots supporters feign staunchness to receive financial handouts and favours. Some even accept cash money from one side but vote for the other. In spite of the checks and balances in place, some people in the middle hierarchical structure of politics abuse their power and the trust placed in them to get their friends, supporters, contributors and family members lucrative contracts.

Some even justify their greased palms as 'finder's fee'. And, some higher up the power strata not only do the same for personal gain, they also widen their sphere of influence in order to secure tenure and longevity of their political party.

Anansi has the uncanny ability to morph into anyone. He is found in every profession. He masquerades as respectable lawyers, engineers, doctors, teachers, ministers of religion and in any occupation that may come to mind.

I fear Anansi because he contravenes all the rules of decency and fair play. By his actions, he defrauds the entire nation of finances and morality. Anansi is costing us billions of dollars and hundreds of innocent lives every year. We need to eradicate 'Anansi' from our reality and send him back to the folklore, myth and yarns where he belongs.

- Garth A. Rattray is a medical doctor with a family practice. Email feedback to columns@gleanerjm.com and garthrattray@gmail.com.