Our Readers' Opinions
January 28, 2005

Ideas, history and a united people

Editor: In 2004, an interesting sharing and exchange of ideas filled the pages of our local newspapers. There were two ideas or recommendations, which captured well two important needs of our nation.{{more}}

The Vincentian newspaper of October 15, 2004 printed an article by Dr. Kenneth John titled “Urgently Needed: Our own History”. In that article, Dr. John writes: “Independence, sovereignty, nationhood all need a relevant education as an underpin. A true history of the country is a seminal source from which the required inspiration may come.”

This call for a “true history” of St. Vincent and the Grenadines has been made consistently, yet such a history is missing. We neglect this aspect of our national life as if it has no value. Too many Vincentians easily dismiss any talk of history. But how do we know where we are without knowing how we got where we are? How do we become a free nation when there are no established cultural references? How do we become confident builders of a productive society without knowing ourselves as a people who have a history of thought and action? How does the young generation become fully committed to nation-building without knowledge of their heritage?

In my view, the education revolution will not be fully realized without a genuine history of SVG. The education revolution aims to prepare people for living and production. As a result of this education revolution, Vincentians are supposed to become conscious builders of a productive and just society. However, in order to become conscious builders of a prosperous society, history has a major role to play in this regard.

In addition, the Searchlight newspaper of October 20, 2004, also carried an article by Oscar Allen titled “The Culture Of The 1970s”. This is what he says: “…The culture of independence is not enough today; the nation is fractured, justice is compromised and peace is beginning a new migration.

“Another united people’s movement – but not a party – must shape the peace of the coming 25 years.”

This call for a united people’s movement that is non-partisan is necessitated by the critical challenges we face as a nation. Political tribalism is raising its ugly head higher and higher, and it threatens to de-stabilize the nation. There is the additional challenge of economic production, which must increase in quantity and quality, and social disintegration must be arrested. Government alone cannot do these things.

In unity, Vincentians could meet all these challenges and build a new productive and prosperous society.

These two ideas or recommendations are closely linked. A true history of SVG will strengthen a united people’s movement and motivate Vincentians to become more committed to building the nation. It will help to make the cloudy skies blue and it will remove the fog from the roads so that we could have a clear view where we are going as a nation.

Similarly, a united people’s movement could advocate for such a history of SVG to be written or properly documented. In many countries, the people had to demand a true history for their countries. Otherwise, nothing was done about documenting progress, setbacks, and lessons learned. Furthermore, the experience of some countries shows that quite frequently those with authority over the political, social and economic life seem not to recognize the value of history in positive national transformation. Only a people’s movement was able to force these authorities to promote a true history of their countries.

If these recommendations offered by these two distinguished Vincentians are adopted by the Government and the people of SVG, we will be in a better position to strengthen the foundations for constructing a productive society that serves all Vincentians regardless to party affiliation, social group and class. Maxwell Haywood