Dr. Fraser- Point of View
June 15, 2018
We love our nice time!

Some time, maybe two years ago, some persons were advertising SVG as the place to go to ‘lime’.

It was, they were suggesting, the ‘liming’ capital of the region. A strange way to advertise our country, I thought. Why would anyone want to have his country advertised as a place to ‘lime’?
But they were right, for really, we are about having a nice time. That is when we come alive. A ‘lime’ is the only thing that pulls us out. We will find the action wherever it is, come what may! Flow and Digicel have understood this for a long time and have been capitalising on it.

Recently I have seen videos of CDC School Tours, sponsored by the Agricultural Input Warehouse. This was an effort to promote Junior Calypso, Soca and Pan. I assume that exams were all over. In any event the students were having the fun of a life time.

So far so good. I am not sure if this was the only or best way of promoting those shows, but that is beside the point. To what extent do we take other issues of importance to the schools to get them involved? Would it not be a good idea to have in the schools a serious discussion on carnival and what it means or should mean to us? Or on the ‘calypso’ from which the youngsters are moving away despite the Junior Calypso competition?

There will always be occasions for ‘nice time’, perhaps to turn our attention away from the depressing issues in our society. But once the ‘nice time’ is over, the appalling conditions remain. We still have to face our situation without the necessary mental preparation. So, we have to move beyond ‘nice time’. Our excuse is often that it is ‘we culture’, so apparently anything goes. But what is culture? To many it is about Carnival and Nine Mornings and whatever go with them.

St. Kitts/Nevis had recently embarked on revising their national cultural policy. The PS in the Ministry of Culture said among other things that the pillars were – culture as national identity, understanding culture as part of the international society, having a cultural benchmark for social norms, and capitalizing on culture driven economic activities.

I looked at our government website and did not find anything about cultural policy, but one can get a sense of what it means by looking at the objectives of the Department of Culture and the goals of the National Cultural Foundation. I am heartened to see it stated that culture “must feature significantly in any development plan” and that any plan for the future of the country must have as a prime consideration “the liberation of the innate creativity of humankind”. Included among the objectives is “to instil national pride . . . and develop greater social discipline and commitment to nation building”.

All of this sounds good but how have we gone beyond the rhetoric and translated these  into nation building tools? What, for example, are we doing about developing greater social discipline and commitment to nation building? I say all of this to make the point that  culture is not about nice time and about ‘getting down to it’.

We need a serious look at this for if culture is about the combined values, beliefs, norms, and goals that define us, we have to accept that culture is not stagnant and that there are always forces impacting on it. As we intervene into the global community the only thing that can define us and deepen our sense of self will be our culture. We need then to understand that it is more than ‘nice time’,  and that it is an important ingredient of nation building.   

Dr Adrian Fraser is a social commentator and historian