Dr. Fraser- Point of View
June 12, 2009
This is more than a Hurricane Season

It is that time of year again, a time when the nation is in full motion as a number of things come together. It is, of course, Carnival time, but students are also completing their school and overseas exams. Others planning to go on to further studies are anxiously awaiting their letters of acceptance from the educational institutions to which they have applied.{{more}} Many persons are positioning themselves to ensure that they can capitalise on any opportunities available to do some kind of business and make much needed money. Then the ‘Mas Men’ and Carnival participants generally are fine tuning their product for the big day. But along with all of this are efforts to hold a referendum on a new constitution and one expects that there will be a lot of talk on this matter over the next few months until the date of the referendum. In another few months, too, it will be Independence time, a time when the nation celebrates thirty years of the recovery of its independence. We are also plumb into the Hurricane season, and although we have been fortunate for quite a long time to have avoided the horrors of a major hurricane, we have always to be prepared. Some people believe, too, that general elections are also around the corner. So there will be no dull moment.

A time when we should be revelling in our thirtieth year of the recovery of our independence is likely to find the nation very much divided and some sections quite bitter. The recently concluded Vincy Pac Operations has left a number of angry people and communities. The Opposition and Government are at loggerheads over the new Constitution, a prelude perhaps to the bitterness that will come with the next general election whenever it is called. I have already suggested a way to go with the Constitutional Issue. There is a significant section of the new constitution on which there appears to be broad agreement, particularly between the Government and the Opposition. It is up to the Government not to be highhanded on this matter but to reach out and try to arrive at some consensus on those issues on which there are differences. There will never be a hundred percent agreement by both parties, but if a climate of give and take and a spirit of genuine attempt at reconciliation were to prevail then it could very well colour peoples approach to the referendum. So the bitterness has to be removed, the scoring of political points avoided, and the views of people respected. Without this kind of environment, people will vote according to their political colouration. The issue is a delicate one because there might be things you like about the constitution and others you dislike. How then do you vote? Remember, too, that a call for a home grown constitution does not mean that you will necessarily take anything that comes before you. So the discussions/debates over the next few months will have to be handled skilfully and delicately. It is also unfortunate that all of this is happening when the election season is very much in the air. It is true that some countries use their national elections as occasions to seek their citizens’ views on important issues in the society. Given the nature and bitterness of our politics it might not necessarily work for us.

But even before we get to all of that we have to work our way through another period of Carnival that has already thrown up some controversial points, the arrangements involving the apparent staging of Panorama and Fire Fete on the same night at the same place. It does not appear, too, that the CDC and the Calypso Association have as yet resolved the dispute over the number of calypsos to be sung at the semi-finals and finals. I have stated my position already and do not accept that at least on the night of the finals the late ending of the Show has anything to do with the calypsonians. Let us hope that the matter can be resolved soon and amicably.

The NEWS has been quite critical of the talent displayed by the participants in the Miss SVG Queen Show. I looked at the talent section of the Show and share that paper’s view. It was extremely disappointing. It appears that persons are normally identified and selected for the Show and then have to look around quickly to find some talent. Some of what I saw represented there was extremely embarrassing. Is this a statement about what is happening with our young people? It is extremely ironic that while we appear to be putting a lot into the development of our Culture we find it difficult to get young ladies with any talent of worth. There is some disconnect here. It is either that we are looking in the wrong places for participants or we have to look again at the direction we are taking with the promotion and development of our culture. I suspect that when the young ladies are identified they rush off to find someone who could give them a crash course. Maybe it is time for the Department of Culture to have special workshops for these young ladies once they can be identified early; perhaps even setting up a Committee with special responsibility to work in this area. This might not necessarily resolve the problem since it takes time and you have to start with something you can work with. Over the years, the first inclination of the young ladies is either to resort to Singing or to some sort of Dramatic Presentation even though they might have no natural gifts in these areas. Maybe they are limited in what they think talent really is and so the Committee I am speaking about could also have the task of exploring different possibilities. The answers to the interviews represent another embarrassing feature of the Show. With the decision to give scholarships to winners of the Queen Show, efforts were made to select persons who were among the nation’s brightest but here again something has broken down somewhere. Is this a reflection of where our young people are? I doubt it! So something is missing somewhere. We have urgently to find a solution to these problems, for despite other efforts to improve the overall presentation unless the girls can deliver, the Show will fall flat.

We are already into the sixth month of the year. The rest of the year will be challenging with the country still reeling with economic problems to the extent that we have been forced to go to the IMF. The CLICO matter is still to be settled, with many people who have investments in CLICO and British American Life anxiously awaiting the outcome. The global economic crisis continues, and although there are encouraging signs in the U.S, unemployment will remain a major problem. This will continue to affect remittances and even limit the number of people wanting to come home this year.

Dr Adrian Fraser is a social commentator and historian.