Youth at the centre of the process of Independence
October 25, 2013

Youth at the centre of the process of Independence

Fri Oct 25, 2013

by Jamal Browne,
UNDP Caribbean Youth Think Tank Representative for St Vincent and the Grenadines

Thirty-four years of political independence is indeed a milestone worth celebrating – this as we reflect on the progress that we have made as a people and as a nation. As a chronology, my celebration of political independence this year is a tribute to the vision and resolve of the founding-fathers of our nation; it is a commemoration of the determination and optimism of our people in sustaining the process of political independence; and it is a recognition of the value of our sovereignty.{{more}}

Over the years, I have developed a keen interest in the accounts of local historians and scholars on those decisive years on either side of October 27th, 1979. I am particularly drawn to the personalities involved – more specifically, politicians and senior public officials. I often find myself questioning their motivation – not necessarily out of doubt, but out of sheer curiosity.

I am quite certain that while our then Premier – the late Right Honourable Robert Milton Cato – may have envisioned the splendour of political self-determination, in his own humanness, he was more inclined to hesitantly examine the responsibilities that came with such. He, nonetheless, rose to the occasion, and successfully pioneered a cause that was more of a commencement than it was a climax.

Thirty-four years on, and we continue to grapple with the expectedly arduous responsibilities of political self-determination. So, whereas we have experienced significant progress, we have also been considerably out-paced by nations faced with very similar challenges.

Today another opportunity beckons – only this time, it demands major contributions across-the-board. More than ever before, our society is in need of visionary, vibrant and resolute leaders in public office, business, innovation, research and development, the arts, and a range of other critical areas to lead us into a new era of political, economic and cultural self-determination. With hundreds of local youths reading for degrees and professional qualifications at home and abroad, we can safely say that our proverbial quiver is full, and that the future of St Vincent & the Grenadines is in capable hands.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon, in his 2012 message in commemoration of International Youth Day, declared that: “Today’s generation of youth…has unprecedented potential to advance the well-being of the entire human family.” Today, let us consider what systems ought to be put in place for our youth to see themselves as having a fair chance at making meaningful contributions towards nation-building, and the ongoing processes of political, economic, and cultural independence.