Last Sunday was dÃ©jÃ vu where the official emancipation day activities were concerned. It was really a repeat of what had been happening over the past few years, an activity without people. In fact, there were more officials and performers than audience. Some serious analysis really needs to be done about the declining crowds, something which is experienced also with Workers Day. What is it that is happening in St.Vincent and the Grenadines that has left people so disconnected? We cannot simply put it down to a lack of appreciation about the importance of emancipation because it is manifesting itself at other times. What do we have to do to pull people together and get them involved? Is it general apathy? If so, why so? It is really something that needs serious analysis, if we want to activate our people. There is a lot that is wrong with our country. We have lost our sense of what is right and what is wrong. We give priority to things which do not appear to be ones that deserve it. But why? There are obviously things happening in our peoplesâ lives that some of us do not fully understand. In fact, there are many things happening before our very eyes that we either do not see or do not comprehend or perhaps even want to comprehend.
There is another matter that caught my attention while reading the weekend papers that I want to comment on. At a lecture sponsored by the National Council of Women, according to SEARCHLIGHT MIDWEEK, reference was made by the lecturer to Baruda, wife of National Hero Joseph Chatoyer. Baruda was supposed to have lent her husband womenâs clothes in order to disguise himself as a woman and so deceive the British in battle. I find this most astounding and would really like to know the source of this information. Very little has ever been mentioned about Chatoyerâs wives. I think that there is a painting of Chatoyer and his wives done by Agostino Brunias. It is hard to understand given the way the Carib women dressed how it would have been possible for Chatoyer to have attempted to use this as a disguise. Even more than this, I try to imagine the circumstances under which Chatoyer would have wanted to disguise himself as a woman and have difficulty thinking of any. Would Chatoyer have been fighting a lone battle with the British? If he was not, how then would his female disguise work? Then the name Baruda, from where did this come? Baruda sounds more Spanish than anything else. I have never seen reference to this in the literature.
The Green Partyâs Blast
OâNealâs Green Party seems to have launched the first official blast of the season with the production of its manifesto. Clearly, no one will take OâNeal seriously until he convinces us that he has enough people behind him to field 15 or 17 candidates, as the case might be. In the event that he is able to do so and can convince Vincentians for vote for his party, which informs us that Green means prosperity, we will surely have a revolution through the ballot box. The Partyâs promises will run into hundreds of millions if not billions of dollars. Where the money will come from is quite vague but once you read between the lines you will surely be convinced that they can do it. VAT will be abolished and the income lost from it will be made up from the bulk sale of fresh water and a new deep sea fishing industry seemingly in conjunction with China. This will bring in $400 million annually. I believe this can be even more. Given Chinaâs huge population, if you sell the fish in China you can make a lot more money. Sale from drinking water will be $150 million annually. The agricultural revolution will be fuelled by the governmentâs pledge to buy everything that is grown. I believe they will ensure that they have markets or will create industries to manufacture items from what is grown. Remember, too, that we will be eating what we grow rather than importing food. There will be at least 5 new factories. We will have our own national university that will be built in Georgetown. From this we will get a lot of money for while University education is free for Vincentians we will make huge sums from fee-paying foreign students who no doubt will be coming here in droves because of the world class education we are going to provide. Of course, given the kind of money being made in other areas we will be able to hire world class scholars, and this will in turn help to attract students. Additionally it is the thinking of the Party that we will be able to make more from an education service industry than we will ever get from tourism.
One of the most revolutionary ideas mentioned in the Manifesto has to do with the creation of a referenda structure. Any project involving over $ 5 million will be put to the people through a referendum. Given the number of big projects that are likely to come on stream we will most likely be having more referenda than meetings of parliament. There is something very democratic about this because it will be the people who will decide. I imagine these would be arranged in such a way, given their frequency, that there will be little cost to the country. In any event, regardless of the cost, we will have a more democratic country. Instead of the big shots going in parliament and deciding peoplesâ fate without their involvement, the referenda structure will make all of us the decision makers. In removing gender inequalities, all statutory boards will be made up of 50% women. I am suggesting that the Green Party go further to show that it is serious about this. It should begin by ensuring that 50% of its candidates are women. It is probably going too far to suggest that a woman should be leader. This doesnât matter because they will be the beneficiaries in a number of other areas. Let us then move on to have 50% of the Police Force made up of women and we can probably carry this through in all other areas.
The areas that will constitute the pillar of the economy are the high quality deep sea fishing industry, bulk export of water, voluntary export of human capital, a good government investment, a high-quality agricultural sector, university education service sector, boosting small businesses and environmental trading. I suspect the Party will have to pull back on the issue of the voluntary export of human capital because with all that will be happening in the country, the University, the number of projects and industries likely to come on stream there will be need for human capital. So we might be unable to allow even voluntary export of our human capital. After all if we are going to get all of this there is no need to migrate. The Green government will reduce the voting age from 18 to 16. My suggestion is that they remove it further to 14 because with the free world class education from pre-school to University we should have bright and mature 14 year olds so why not go further and expand the revolution! If we are to go by its manifesto the Green Party is about a peaceful revolution that will create a genuine democratic society. Arenât you excited?
Dr Adrian Fraser is a social commentator and historian.