Round Table with Oscar
October 13, 2015
Vital visioning for the village/ community

To train up a child, it takes an entire village. (African saying). That saying was true then, when the village was an enlarged family circle, a social network within boundaries, with values and challenges passed from one generation to another.{{more}}

The village was not just an assembly of families, though. As Shirla Philogene, one of our writers, notes about her native village: “…there was (also) the estate part of the village, owned by two colonial brothers who were of Portuguese origin. They provided employment and thatched houses for the workers and their children. Then, there was the pastoral part of the village comprised of the school, the headmaster, the church, the servers and Father Abraham.” (Between Two Worlds, 2008)

Such Vincentian communities not only raised up children moulded in the image of their parents, they nurtured dreams and inspired visions among oppressed villagers.

It was those children, trained up in that colonial-estate grip on property and power in the early 1900s, who, when the first general elections came to SVG in 1951, swept the Liberation Army of George Charles, Ebenezer Joshua and Co into the Legislative Council.


Today, to train up a child, the government network plays a large part. Just reflect with me how much has changed in the role that home and family play in the upbringing of children today. Half of our student population goes to school early in the morning and returns late evening. 10 of the 12 daylight hours, Monday to Friday, are away from the family. A small proportion of parents and guardians has the time and the ability to interact with the materials that their children are studying. Occasions for household play and prayer and ‘socialisation’/formation of character, get tossed out of the schedule. Discussion of personal issues, and joint participation in community events become the exception, rather than the norm, and the school community, teachers, counsellors, student peers and peer culture, becomes the ‘entire village that trains up the child and young person’. To a large degree, adults find this kidnapping of our children from our grasp to be a great convenience. Have we not whispered to ourselves these words: ‘O how I wish the vacations were over’! We take the measure of our children’s character and excellence to be tied to the region’s education test agency, the CXC evaluation. This body, (CXC), like Sparrow’s Cutteridge of colonial times, may serve some purposes very efficiently, but it does not respect the place of the community in the formation of national vision and children’s culture. When the state/ government trains up a child, the child becomes an industrial product and an imminent commodity. When the state invades and captures the village innocently, we are at risk.


It seems impossible for today’s political leaders to be bearers of visions or be moved by dreams. For one thing, the world in which they seek position rotates around deceptions and duplicity. Dreams call for honesty and integrity in imagining a future for the community, while leaders embrace the future in themselves. The two dream impossible leaders in our context, on the basis of their own projections, are Dr Gonsalves and Mrs Anesia Baptiste. They both emphasize their own personal goals and our need for them to govern us. That attitude prevents them from stirring and nurturing dreams with the nation and people at the centre of things. I submit this point of view for serious consideration.

And yet, the position of Prime Minister of St Vincent and the Grenadines, in our Global ‘Village’ world is truly a position without honour and dignity. Believe me, a Prime Minister of SVG, who has to go smiling, cajoling and in short begging all over the place to bring some benefits to his/her suffering people is disgraceful, even when she does it ‘successfully’. But that is what the Global Village wants and expects our leaders to do. The truth is very clear to me. You cannot beg and dream real dreams at the same time.

The only people who are free to dream and generate visions are the citizen electorate who free ourselves quietly and unerringly with the truth. There is nothing on offer in this upcoming elections that is visionary, but we have the capacity to make a cold assessment and analysis of ourselves in this moral and political environment, and begin to ponder and discuss the social bases of our own future as a nation, supposedly on our 36th anniversary. If we did not dream in 1979, we can start now.