SVG at 40 – The meaning of Independence
Editorial
October 25, 2019
SVG at 40 – The meaning of Independence

At age 40, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) has come of age.
We are a tiny nation on the world stage whose views are sought and respected. We have achieved much, with very little; scaled heights many thought beyond our reach, including being elected to a non permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council.

This milestone of the 40th anniversary as an independent nation necessarily invites reflection of where we were, where we are, and where we would like to be as we continue on a trajectory of national empowerment, national pride, and national responsibility in our unceasing efforts to write our own destiny.

We have achieved tremendous improvements in our people’s standard of life, educational opportunities, health care and social security. The nation’s physical infrastructure has improved.

We give due praise to the great successes we have had in arriving at this point. But those very successes command us to establish metrics of success which are implementable, measurable, and achievable within an expeditious time frame. Our greatest challenge undoubtedly is gearing our country to confront the power of climate change. We have indeed taken some steps in this regard. But let us be brutally honest.  Climate change represents an existential threat of the first order. We may survive another 40 years if we do nothing. But it would likely be a life of immense suffering, the scale of which we can begin to glimpse by simply looking at the effects of the catastrophic hurricanes which have battered our sister Caribbean islands.

We are also in the midst of a generational shift which is inexorable and potentially destabilizing. Quite frankly, the generation which led us into Independence are quickly entering their autumnal years and a new generation of Vincentian leaders must emerge to take the reins of the nation and guide us through the rough seas which are ahead of us.  This process has also begun. But it needs to accelerate immediately because as we remind ourselves and are daily reminded, time waits for no one.

In this vein of no procrastination, we have to deepen our commitment to maximizing the economic opportunities made possible by the building of the AIA. We are indeed aware of new hotels being built. These of course need to be accompanied by other infrastructural projects and people centred product development that would enable visitors to seek out and return to SVG as a top Caribbean tourist attraction. We are indeed in the midst of a profound economic transformation the like of which we have never experienced before, to wit the development of a modern service economy. For 200 years our agrarian past dictated our economic ambition. No more. We now stand on precipice of an economic revolution which calls upon every Vincentian at home and abroad to engage the global economy in new ways that fully exploit our greatest capital venture, the most beautiful airport anywhere in the Caribbean. And we should not be afraid to say so.

What we should fear is allowing criminal conduct to undermine the enormous successes we can achieve elsewhere in Vincentian public life. We do not need to stress that the security of life, liberty, and property are critically important indices of the quality of our civilization. But we must insist that these are guaranteed only if we do the work individually and collectively to bring peace and harmony to our streets and homes.

Our women and children in particular demand such safety. But let us be also absolutely clear: there is no ‘white knight’ riding in on a horse to bring safety, peace, and prosperity to us. Forty years after colonial rule should have taught us one thing: these good things in life we must do for ourselves. And that is the meaning of Independence.

Congratulations to the Government and People of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines! Happy Independence.At age 40, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) has come of age.

We are a tiny nation on the world stage whose views are sought and respected. We have achieved much, with very little; scaled heights many thought beyond our reach, including being elected to a non permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council.

This milestone of the 40th anniversary as an independent nation necessarily invites reflection of where we were, where we are, and where we would like to be as we continue on a trajectory of national empowerment, national pride, and national responsibility in our unceasing efforts to write our own destiny.

We have achieved tremendous improvements in our people’s standard of life, educational opportunities, health care and social security. The nation’s physical infrastructure has improved.

We give due praise to the great successes we have had in arriving at this point. But those very successes command us to establish metrics of success which are implementable, measurable, and achievable within an expeditious time frame. Our greatest challenge undoubtedly is gearing our country to confront the power of climate change. We have indeed taken some steps in this regard. But let us be brutally honest.  Climate change represents an existential threat of the first order. We may survive another 40 years if we do nothing. But it would likely be a life of immense suffering, the scale of which we can begin to glimpse by simply looking at the effects of the catastrophic hurricanes which have battered our sister Caribbean islands.

We are also in the midst of a generational shift which is inexorable and potentially destabilizing. Quite frankly, the generation which led us into Independence are quickly entering their autumnal years and a new generation of Vincentian leaders must emerge to take the reins of the nation and guide us through the rough seas which are ahead of us.  This process has also begun. But it needs to accelerate immediately because as we remind ourselves and are daily reminded, time waits for no one.

In this vein of no procrastination, we have to deepen our commitment to maximizing the economic opportunities made possible by the building of the AIA. We are indeed aware of new hotels being built. These of course need to be accompanied by other infrastructural projects and people centred product development that would enable visitors to seek out and return to SVG as a top Caribbean tourist attraction. We are indeed in the midst of a profound economic transformation the like of which we have never experienced before, to wit the development of a modern service economy. For 200 years our agrarian past dictated our economic ambition. No more. We now stand on precipice of an economic revolution which calls upon every Vincentian at home and abroad to engage the global economy in new ways that fully exploit our greatest capital venture, the most beautiful airport anywhere in the Caribbean. And we should not be afraid to say so.

What we should fear is allowing criminal conduct to undermine the enormous successes we can achieve elsewhere in Vincentian public life. We do not need to stress that the security of life, liberty, and property are critically important indices of the quality of our civilization. But we must insist that these are guaranteed only if we do the work individually and collectively to bring peace and harmony to our streets and homes.

Our women and children in particular demand such safety. But let us be also absolutely clear: there is no ‘white knight’ riding in on a horse to bring safety, peace, and prosperity to us. Forty years after colonial rule should have taught us one thing: these good things in life we must do for ourselves. And that is the meaning of Independence.

Congratulations to the Government and People of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines! Happy Independence.