Last Updated on Wednesday, 2 August 2023, 11:40 by Denis Chabrol
by GHK Lall
Dr. Roger Luncheon has long been gone from the public limelight, that which he occupied with some distinction in both the last and this century. He spanned more than centuries; Roger Luncheon, on occasion, bridged the expanse that ruptures this country in so many ways. Now, he is finally gone to shake hands at the heights with his leader. Or to be confronted by the badman that floats around and controls a much lower place that most people fear.
In my reading of the good doctor Luncheon, he was several cuts above those who give that academic honorific a most terrible reputation. Currently, there are a couple of such political luminaries in the midst; thank God, they don’t deal with medicine or the sick, for many would have been the malpractice claims and suits that followed. The now departed Dr. Luncheon was a medicine man, when such was pure political poison. Many were the people who looked like him, had similar ancestry to him, and who were forced to appeal to him for relief. Years ago, a Permanent Secretary shared her story, and of Dr. Luncheon’s authoritative diagnosis and remedy. Just this week on Emancipation Day, a sister told me her story, while he was still with us, about escalation to him, and his fixer’s intervention. Matter over, move on. Roger Luncheon was a tollgate keeper, and he kept the traffic flowing, when his bigoted and vindictive comrades preferred differently, acted divisively.
He was also a cool political operator made out of a different kind of water. Give him a troubling set of circumstances, and he came up with a healing resolution. At least it healed his party, and added smooth contours to his government’s leadership gymnastics. Maybe his torrent of sophisticated syntax, a man at home with the unsparing diction of secure people, was to heal his own wounds. Yeah, the Jolly Roger was a real pirate where words were concerned, knotted strings of them that distorted the ailments facing this country. As the anointed gatekeeper of the Freedom House drawbridge, it was his solemn duty to come with what obfuscated, masticated, and complicated. Indeed, Dr. Roger Luncheon was a tower of power in leading Guyanese down the garden path, only for them to realize a considerable time after that it was no garden path, but road to the graveyard.
Roger Luncheon the prevaricator had no equal. President Ali tries, and though getting better, is too much of braggadocio to be taken seriously by literate people (truly lettered ones). Roger Luncheon, as a stonewaller, wallower and wallcrawler of exceptional standing in the whimsical is now challenged by the champion of Exxon, Dr. Bharrat E. Jagdeo. Dr. Luncheon could make the eyes glaze over, and the head spin; his student, Dr. Jagdeo, is best at spinning his own head, and crashing into inglorious mental heaps.
This illustrious veteran of the PPP was a man, a presence and a power, with many talents. One of them was why answer in one word, when hundred could fulfill many objectives, not all of them on the level or the straight. Another was to hold the line, and hold rambunctious comrades in check, and he the color purple that he was. He had purple prose and pedigree to match. A political opponent labeled him a pitbull, my thinking is that he was more of a porcupine crossed with some crocodile.
Oh, he had the tears to suit, and the hard armored scars and shells of many a tough political battle that boasted of his successes in the trenches, and boosted his survival. When I harness all of this under one roof, I only come to one place in this surveying of the journey of Dr. Roger Luncheon: he was the last of the now extinct breed of Guyanese political noblemen. Sorry, Sam, over there keeping company with Uncle Sam. Failing to stand leads to falling from grace. For the nobleman Sir Roger sat on a throne of thorns, surrounded by a court of inferior jesters. It required of him to be bowman, swordsman, spearman, and cleanup man. When the dust settles, and the winds across Guyana would have sung their last mournful echo, Roger Luncheon was all of that for the PPP, and then so much more.
So, he now runs into the faded rays of his last sunset to join his other storied comrades in the PPP galaxy, and the Guyanese political pantheon. Waiting somewhere out there for him are Cheddi and Boysie and Philomena, and maybe even Forbes. It is highly likely that they all would say that it was a hell of a ride. Only that in his own unmatchable and inimitable way, Dr. Roger Luncheon’s selection of words would sound something like this: I rode the high, stormy winds, the ramparts of summits were scaled, and the raging tide was mine to conquer. And I did.
In my pean to a party man, and a patriotic Guyanese man, he certainly did. Just ask the PNC.