We are now into what we consider the Christmas Season, although as I have said on numerous occasions, it is a season when we pay little attention to what is its real purpose. For the Christians it is a period when we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ.
We however use the word Christian very loosely and broadly. Some of us use this time to remind ourselves that we had at some point laid claim to being Christian although today we hardly practice or even proclaim its beliefs.
It is normally a good time for the churches which can expect a much larger attendance than is customary throughout the year. Commercialism remains dominant and we prepare for it by adopting the ‘Black Friday’ North American practice. It seemed not to have been as crazy as previous years when persons stood in lines from or near midnight. It is a time when vendors hope for the best including the seasonal ones, utilising the barrels that relatives and friends send to them.
The season also signals the end of the year when our celebrations take another form and transform themselves into what we call ‘OLD YEARS NIGHT’.
This year was a somewhat tragic year for me. I lost three uncles, Alban Quow in January, Ben (Benjamin) in July and Norman in November. I guess this is something over which we have little control. But life goes on. In fact, it appears to me that since the start of the pandemic we have been experiencing a larger than usual number of deaths not related to the virus, some especially involving younger people.
The challenges remain in a number of other areas. I think particularly of those persons “North of the River” who on numerous occasions had difficulty getting home and of course the students who at times were unable to attend classes. 2022 was again another year of high homicide rates. Some appear to be gang related but there were others where it becomes obvious that our only manner of settling conflicts is by violence. When we think of the number of deaths, we also have to be reminded that many of those who were shot or subjected to other forms of violence were fortunately able to survive.
Unemployment remains high creating even more problems when one takes into account the high rate of inflation. With this goes an increase in poverty, something which we prefer to push under the carpet, hoping perhaps that by some miracle it will be sorted out. Of course, this is wishful thinking, and the fallout will be manifested in different ways, including increasing conflicts and crime.
Tensions remain high and one can recognise this from the talk on the ground and the anger displayed on the faces of many people. What worries me most is that the authorities give the impression that things are okay and display acts of hostility to those who are honest and brave enough to openly discuss the state of affairs.
There are a host of other things that need to be addressed urgently. The road from Cane Garden leading through Long Wall is disgraceful and has been so for a number of years. It is as though no one cares. Often, we try to do things to please the tourists. But all “Tour Buses” going to the country pass through that area to allow the visitors to take photographs of their Cruise Liners. Having said that, it needs to be pointed out that although we are glad to welcome visitors to SVG, what we should be doing must be first and foremost for the satisfaction of Vincentians.
As we move into 2023 It will be good to see organised bodies making an effort, perhaps even jointly, to have public discussions on the state of affairs in this “blessed” land of ours. Things will be said that some will not like but in the long run it will be better for all of us.
Dr Adrian Fraser is a social commentator and historian