October 24, 2014

Independence lament

Every now and then we get peeved about West Indies cricket. The recent big talking point for cricket fans is the aborted tour of India at a time when we were beginning once more to hope that our climb back to the top had started. I was going to say that is only for those blessed with an exaggerated sense of optimism, but aren’t all West Indian cricket fans so blessed? We have not held a serious talk about the state of our cricket.{{more}} I have a simple position on this matter. I am of the view that West Indies cricket flourishes when there is a sense of hope and optimism in the Caribbean. Today as we look across the Caribbean what we have is despair, a feeling that we are going nowhere and doing so hurriedly; a feeling that as a region we are falling apart. Do we expect West Indies cricket to be able to divorce itself from the mess that is the Caribbean today?

Are we optimistic about the Caribbean Single Market and Economy? We are certainly appalled by the constant bickering about the treatment of nationals in sister countries. Yasin Abu Bakr, Trinidadian leader of the Jamaat al Muslimeen was recently prevented from entering Jamaica where he was scheduled to attend a conference commemorating the 19th anniversary of the Million Man March. What is amusing about this is that the Jamaican government had to meet the US$36,000 cost of a private plane to take him back. A matter that has not gotten public attention is a letter written anonymously, allegedly by an employee of the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank referring to some serious problems there. The contents are alarming and really need to be looked into. I am not sure if the matter was simply dismissed because it was written anonymously. One can point throughout the region to despair.

My concern, however, is with SVG as we are about to celebrate our 35th anniversary of Independence. We were greeted with news of two murders on Monday evening. I am not sure about the count now but for a small country it is alarming and scary. We have apparently given up on finding solutions, being prepared to have rallies calling for Peace. There is nothing wrong with this but we have to go beyond that. Not only do we have to step up efforts to deal with the growing criminality, but we have to examine the underlying causes and be guided by this. We are not moving into our anniversary of Independence with much hope that the journey we started on October 27, 1979 is taking us anywhere. We seem to have stopped somewhere and are left with the option of removing the obstacles or turning back. We have to identify the obstacles and do what we have to do. Was there not a sense of hope on that memorable day in 1979, particularly after we had gone through the experience of the eruption of the volcano and the disruptions this caused? What we are confronted with today is fear and a sense of nothingness. The recent court case involving the Registrar has blown my mind. It is incredible and boldfaced. Would any of us ever again believe in the administration of justice? Do we not get the feeling that it is hijacked somewhere? The Bigger Biggs story is still bubbling.

Our main talking point today is about politics and the politicians. Admittedly there are well meaning politicians, but are we prepared to examine their horns and to see who is who? We treat politicians like Gods, refusing to recognize that they are persons who came from among us, but whom we have bestowed with power and authority expecting that they were going to be exercised on our behalf. On Monday we will take pride in our democratic accomplishments and status, but this is by chance and not because of us. It is so easy for politicians to become dictators once they are boldfaced enough and can intoxicate us with nice sounding words. We swallow hook, line and sinker anything that comes out of their mouths. We wait on the word, digest it and convince ourselves that it is the word of God because it was God who put them there. We are fascinated and embrace uncritically everything that is said even when things around us are falling apart. What we are good at is rationalising away the bad. Some of us pick up the crumbs from the master’s tables while others await their turn. We become Jumbies awaiting that magic touch that will take us out of our trance. Oh Master! Master! Let it be so. Say the word, we will see it rolling off your lips and imagine we are swallowing it and enjoying its sweetness. Life cannot be sweeter although we have been captured and our imagination imprisoned.

Wasn’t this why we broke the colonial bonds in 1979? How proud were we that we were no longer being oppressed by outsiders? We will celebrate the occasion by wearing our national colours, flying our national flags and singing the national anthem, all of it. I am not sure if many of us actually eat the national dish. We will be happy on Monday and then go back with sad faces to our realities. Have you ever seen more mess? We create our own mess and then wallow in it. I don’t know why while writing this piece I was being haunted by the memory of something from Aesop’s fables – “We hang petty thieves and appoint great thieves to public office!”

Happy Independence!

Dr Adrian Fraser is a social commentator and historian.