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Perry collage

PM Perry Christie, rush-shuffling with Valley Boys as Chinese Emperor, jump-shuffling in front of the Governor General, and just shuffling with Valley Boys, again.

The Bahamas have a PM, Perry Christie, who is an amiable man, but he pleases no one who does not like him. He put the likers and dislikers into a spin when he took to the Nassau streets over the Christmas season during the annual Junkanoo parades. He’s usually there in the front rows looking at his beloved Valley Boys, of which he is a founding member. But, Boxing Day 2013 saw a ‘new Perry’–the Junkanoo-rushing PM. He’s already made a dance popular–the Perry Shuffle–Now, he was treating the nation to this ‘dance’ in a major public event and on live television. That’s the good part.

The bad part, for those who want to make it so, was that his group’s theme was ‘From China to the Bahamas’. Well, if you don’t know, a bunch of Chinese money is flowing into Nassau as the Chinese invest (US$2.6 billion) in a new hotel resort, named Baha-Mar, due to open late-2014. Some Bahamians are running scared because they feel that the orientation of Mr. Christie’s policies are so eastern-looking, and the Chinese are so many and they are so few–they fear getting swamped. So, when Perry donned his make-up and shuffled as an Emperor, tongues started to lash him. Things weren’t helped when the new Chinese Ambassador took to the streets, too, and ‘rushed’ for a few minutes alongside the PM. (What were their Chinese whispers?)

Question came fast. Why rush with the biggest group? (They would eventually win the parade.) Why not go with a smaller group and be a more neutral presence? (Would it make sense for the PM to support another party in national elections?, I ask.) He couldn’t win, even though everyone knows that “Perry is for Valley”.

So, the PM then makes amends, or tries. There’s a second Junkanoo parade, on New Year’s Day. Perry’s group was this time portraying ‘The Great United States of America’. Well, Perry did not rush–he was a bit sore from his exploits the other day. He did, however, go out on the street when the group passed, hoisted an American flag, and shuffled for a few yards. He argued that his rushing had been to give inspiration to older people to show that age is no barrier to an active life: nice footwork.The plain truth is the man can’t help himself: just look at him high-stepping in front of the Governor General.

I can’t recall another instance of a national leader being so on-show in a national public festival. I’m not including German Chancellor Angela Merkel chugging beers at Oktoberfest.Merkel oktoberfest

Whatever people may feel about his political leadership style, they know that if Perry announces that there will soon be a Cabinet shuffle, they may well want to get seats to see if that means that the PM is going to get jiggy.