Full Disclosure
October 19, 2007
Independence of state or people?

We celebrate our National Independence on the 27th of October each year, but what do we really mean by National Independence? Is it just an independence of our State, reflecting a purely political exercise, marking a transition from British rule with an intention to establish a form of sovereign self governance?{{more}} Or are we celebrating our achievements as a people progressing towards a unique Vincentian identity? Some may choose the middle ground in suggesting that we are really striving for both. However, the reality at times reflects a contradiction, since many may be able to produce cogent evidence that although we have obtained an independence of state though not in its purest sense, we have failed to adequately make a parallel transition of commensurate degrees as a people. It is in this regard that we must be watchful to ensure that we are not sending a certain message to the rest of the world, that since 1979 we have grown to become more dependent as a people, while our state apparatus strives for further buttressing as a sovereign unit.

It is now settled that the ability of a country to follow a sustainable development path is determined to a large extent by the capacity of its people and its institutions to critically address the prerequisites, which guide social, political and economic achievement. It is in this light that our communities must at all times be seen as fundamental institutions in the development process.

Our pursuit and acquisition of Independence in 1979 constituted a bold and courageous undertaking which has enabled us to become a sovereign nation. It was at this point that we established irreversibly the emergence of our nation-state. A sovereign state yes, but how successful have we been in attempting to ensure that this superstructural impact reaches the circumstances of the common man? The realities we face as a people are not static, but are ever changing to accommodate the social, political and economic evolution of the Vincentian man. The challenge becomes very apparent in circumstances when we attempt to apply ageless values to the new age we live in. It is, therefore, imperative that we change with the changing times. There is no doubt that an analysis of our present government would show an aim for positive changes, be it in the field of education, healthcare and the like, but can we boast that we have really been able to change the many things in our mindset that so easily seem to beset us?

Independence gave us the responsibility for our governance and virtually the right to determine our future. This is contrary to the experience of our colonial past. As youth, it is high time that we recognise that there is a much-needed independence from within. In this regard, we cannot afford to entertain lethargy as an alternative to thrift.

The enormity of the challenge appears insurmountable at times. However, our greatest asset is the determination and commitment of our people to surmount all difficulties and take our nation forward. There is nothing to lose but all to gain if we as a people focus on the development of our human resource. Human development should emanate from one’s self. The upliftment of the self must be projected from an inner energy, which is indeed a personal concern.

Our young nation has made remarkable strides in the various aspects of national life. We continue unrelentingly to develop and strengthen our democratic traditions and the foundation for the further pursuit and enjoyment of civil liberties, equal rights and justice by our citizens. However, it cannot be over emphasised that the greater the challenges, the harder we must work, the greater the challenges, the more we must also read and think. Growth and development is never unaccompanied by challenges. The solutions lie in the development of our people. In so doing, we must recognise the creativity and genius of our people, and their role in the transformation process aimed at producing a highly effective Vincentian society. This is at all times of first importance.

Hence, the greater the challenges, the more we must remember that we possess the requisite talent, though hidden in some instances, the brain power, and most of the resources to get the job done. What we must beseech of each other is a personal commitment towards nation building. We must not foster a poverty of ambition. In all our doings, we must not forget that we have an obligation to help those who are less fortunate, since we must also help others to rise as we also rise.

The common intention must always be to create the best set of policies for the advancement of our people. This enshrines making a positive difference to the capacity and skills of all members of the community in question. Empowerment is, therefore, our focus. In more specific terms, this empowerment is likely to involve equipping people with skills and competencies which they would not otherwise have; realising existing skills and developing potential; promoting people’s increased self-confidence; promoting people’s ability to take responsibility for identifying and meeting their own, and other people’s needs; and, in consequence, encouraging people to become involved in their community and wider society in a fuller way. Our Independence must, therefore, bring out our passion for nation building.

As we celebrate our Independence, and as we look ahead confidently to the future, let us always be guided by a national interest. Let us fight for true independence of our people, and in so doing, remember that our struggle is part of the general struggle of all peoples of the world.