Notes from a small island
A weblog by Jonathan Ali

Monday, September 01, 2003  

Yesterday saw us observe the nation's 41st anniversary of independence. Regular readers of this blog might imagine I wouldn't have anything good to say about that, only doom and gloom about our state of affairs. That isn't true. Like Edward I do see positive aspects to our situation, but I think that these have less to do with good governance (which we do not have) and more to do with the circumstances brought about by our unique history, our physical smallness, and our fortunate prosperity vis a vis our oil; circumstances that have fortuitously accreted to bring about a society that is, for all its ills--particulary the recent upsurge in crime--easy-going, adaptable, naturally sophisticated, tolerant.

Of course, because Trinidad pretty much coasts along on its own, most are content not to do more to take us higher. And while there is, thankfully, a natural abhorrence of extremity in such matters as politics and religion, our complaisance, our cynicism (I wouldn't say apathy) hampers true progress. ("We like it so," the calypsonian famously sang, ironically; now it seems as though that sentiment is taken almost always literally.)

The main challenge, apart from engendering responsible leadership, is to get people to engender responsibility and confidence within themselves, to see this country as theirs, their responsibility; theirs to mould and direct and improve, something history has denied them. (Doing that just might get us the leaders that we not only deserve, but also need.) It is in this sense, in our lack of responsibility, in something as simple as not seeing the wrong in throwing litter on the street, for example, that I feel we cannot say that we are truly independent.

This has little if nothing to do with the idea that we are not independent because we are in thrall to the US and the EU and the international lending agencies. As Edward says, we have deep links with these entities because it is in our interest to so do; it would be rank suicide--economically, culturally, socially--if we didn't. The question isn't the relationship but the nature of the relationship, moderating between our need and desire for foreign aid and expertise and goods and services, and our need to do by ourselves, for ourselves, to create a nation that cherishes and celebrates and rewards its own, as much as (and in some cases, more than) it appreciates what is foreign. This is all part of the task before us.

posted by Jonathan | 12:48 PM 0 comments


save boissiere house
Bina Shah
Nicholas Laughlin
Caribbean Free Radio
Global Voices
Jessie Girl
Club Soda and Salt
Caribbean Cricket
Jai Arjun Singh
email me