IS DAME PEARLETTE THE VOICE OF ‘RCI…WAIYAIYAI…”
HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ST LUCIAN ACTRESS CALLIOPA PEARLETTE LOUISY
Thank you to Caron Tobierre for alerting me that today is Dame Pearlette Louisy’s birthday.
And for those of you who are thinking, “Oh big, deal! So what?” I say, woe be unto you, Philistines.
Or something like that.
Dame Pearlette’s contribution to St Lucia and her personal sphere of influence are greater than anyone thinks. This Governor General is not just some friend of the prime minister with some big up friends in the courts of injustice and some sordid stories of him and his jabals circulating the rum shops.
This Governor General is not the kind of person to try to sell the Sulfur Springs and pocket the cash. (That actually happened? A St Lucian governor tried the Sulfur Springs as though it was his personal property? No. Not exactly. It was his property and the government tried to snatch it, so he fought them. Funny story: The courts ruled that the nation can use the property for tourism, but the catch is that the geothermal rights still belong to the good gentleman and his heirs. But we're talking about Dame Pearlies....)
This is a woman whose dignity is not a fabrication. Her integrity is not a myth.
(That happened, too. There were Governors whose dignity was fabricated and whose integrity was mythical. Did you hear the one about the drunk GG who was walking naked down Bridge Street after coming from his jabal? They want to make King of the CCJ or the OECS Supreme Court or something.)
It is a seldom remembered that before she was raised up to her current noble status, Calliopa Pearlette Louisy had already made her name. As relative of former Prime Minister Allen Louisy, she has eclipsed him in the national consciousness.
In fact, she made the nobility before him. He was knighted in 2005. She became a dame in 1997.
Having served under three prime ministers, in an increasing divisive and hostile political environment, Dame Pearlette has become one of the quiet unifying forces of St Lucia.
But her non-partisan political greatness is not what we are here to discuss, is it?
No, ma’am. We are here to discuss Dame Pearlette’s time on a stage as an actress between the classical era when Arthur Jacobs was a hip young actor, through the popular theater era, right up to the days when Lighthouse Theatre came into being.
She was what the Americans call a firecracker. Dame Pearlette's talent is an unsung Lucian legend.
“This woman would do anything onstage,” recalled one friend at a bar in Gros Islet last night to some younger actors, who could to imagine that Dame Pearlette was one of the predecessors of the wild, crazy artsy life.
“It was like she took pleasure in defying whatever you thought of her.”
“And she used to play with the other actors, too,” another contemporary acted. “Mischievous? Boy, Pearlette was always trying to make you laugh onstage. If you were acting with her, sometimes you couldn’t even look at her because she was always playing with you.”
“She was a great dramatic actress, but as a comedian, she was dangerous,” said another. “She had a reputation for doing what you didn’t expect. So every time you were onstage and you saw her coming, your heart started beating because you didn’t know what she was going to do.”
Lest any of you young people try to excuse any saloptay by pointing to the esteemed Governor General, let us not forget that all the while that she was being a crazy artist person, she was also winning scholarships like they were going out of style.
After secondary school, she won the CIDA scholarship. After that she was awarded the Canadian Commonwealth Scholarship and Fellowship Plan to pursue a masters in linguistics in Quebec. She read for her Ph.D. in education at Bristol.
But of course, Dame Pearlette’s great legacy is not as an actress or as a Governor General. It is as a teacher. The Convent girls who are now at the helm of many companies, departments and divisions remember her as their French teacher. Many of the up and coming young professionals remember her as their Dean at Sir Arthur Lewis Community College.
Dame Pearlette’s time as Governor General has been an under-acknowledge signal that teachers are, in fact, the heads of our state, the true leaders of the nation and makers of tomorrow. Lawyers, politicians and captains of industry may have some disproportionate influence on today, but compared to teachers, they have no say in tomorrow.
And Dame Pearlette has honored the position given to all great teachers, through her, with the greatest dignity in bad times and in worse. There were times when the government of the island was nothing to be proud of and everything to be ashamed of. But Dame Pearlette, since 1997, has been an enduring symbol of St Lucian honor, dignity and personal excellence.
With that said, there is one more question to address.
Dame Pearlette, there is a certain very musical and suggestive voice on the radio that says, “RCI? Waiyaiyai…”
Several people say it is you.
Can you attest to this?
Is that really you sounding so sexy on my radio?
And even though it's not true (we already know it is true), would you come out with me and sing karaoke, sometime.
It will be great fun and you can get back to blowing people's expectations away at no cost to your good reputation whatsoever.