DESPITE a multitude of outstanding Saint Lucians used as references, there still seems to be a growing discontent and disrespect for a nation state approaching forty years. Daily, the debate about whether Saint Lucians need to feel proud about the goings-on in their country grows, even as developed countries treat us as “unequals”.
From public office to private sector and domiciles, there are many Saint Lucians who have and still continue to shine immeasurably, often defeating painstaking odds to achieve remarkable feats for the betterment of country. Levern Spencer, Daren Sammy, Ronald “Boo” Hinkson and Dame Pearlette Louisy are but a few of those sterling examples for whom we should all be proud.
But a nation, despite its down moments, does not achieve anything in silo. No man is an island and despite Saint Lucia being an island, it takes the efforts of many to even contribute to the greatness of one. Which is why, for instance, greater importance needs to be paid to one of the most important symbols of our country: the national flag.
Last year marked 50 years since the flag was adopted to replace the British Blue Ensign defaced with the arms of the colony. That year – 1967 – was the year Saint Lucia became an Associated State of the United Kingdom. When Saint Lucia became independent on February 22, 1979, it was that very flag designed by acclaimed painter Sir Dunstan St. Omer, a Saint Lucian, which went up a flagpole and symbolically broke the shackles of colonial rule.
But while other nations are so respectful of and celebratory of these milestones, the 50th anniversary of the flag went virtually unnoticed last year. No pomp and ceremony about the very symbol that has for years served as a reminder of what crafting the fabric of a nation’s soul using four colours. The anniversary came and went as trivially as water off a duck’s back.
Nevertheless, there still is some measure of redemption that can be had from the situation. In 1986, Sir Dunstan’s son, Alwyn, entered a competition to create a symbol to commemorate Saint Lucia’s tenth anniversary of Independence.
The intention was to design a National Monument that was supposed to be located at TrouGarnier. His design was a monument paying tribute to our national bird, the Amazona Versicolor, in abstract rising in flight. To this day, bureaucracy has plagued the commissioning of the project, despite Alwyn making many pleadings and exerting a considerable amount of energy to see his dream come true.
Notwithstanding the tight financial spot successive governments seem to suggest the nation finds itself in, Saint Lucia will be celebrating its 40th anniversary of Independence next year. While the major project Alwyn originally proposed might be a bit expensive – creating a working design from his three-dimensional model alone amounts to around $1 million – the project can be scaled down to pay tribute to Jacquot and the flag.
Nearly a decade ago, then Castries Central MP, Richard Frederick, took the bold step of commissioning a park where prime land used to house a preschool. The decision drew the ire of many, including the Castries City Council, which fell under his portfolio. Today, Serenity Park stands testimony to going against the grain of bureaucracy and giving the people something of which they can be proud.
Castries Mayor, Peterson Francis, has demonstrated that he has the vision to transform the city one bold step at a time. In that regard, he should at least consider the proposal being put forward here. While many around the world are proclaiming that their countries are better than ours, it is about time that we seriously prove that nationhood truly means something to us.