Independence Blues

IT really is interesting the number of contributors to this newspaper who have been sharing their views about the state of their country, on the 36th. anniversary of its independence. The common thread running through these critical reviews is that we are off course as a nation and need to re-assess; that there are numerous areas of serious concern that need attending to if our independence is to have any real meaning.

The state of any country at any given time must reflect the quality of its leadership and its people. We are not referring only to political leadership, but to all persons who hold positions as leaders in organizations and institutions, in communities, and are charged with making decisions and taking actions that are intended to redound to the benefit of the people.

We look at St Lucia at 36 and find that in many areas we have actually regressed because of the failure of our leaders to act on our behalf. Independence gave us the opportunity to take control of our destiny and develop our country and its people for the eventual benefit of both. So how is it that we find ourselves in a situation today where we are struggling economically, deteriorating socially and decaying morally?

Why is it that we have failed so miserably to put two of the resources that are emblazoned in our motto– the land and the people—to work for the betterment of our country? A simple case: with all the arable land that still abounds, why is our agricultural sector in such poor shape? We jump and shout with every little achievement but this does not take away the fact that our food import bill is still staggering upwards and we have turned our backs on the one industry that is sustainable.

With tourism touted as the new economic saviour, we have already squandered huge chunks of our patrimony and created a situation where more and more St Lucians are finding themselves crowded out of natural God-made amenities like our beaches that our people should be free to enjoy. Now we are contemplating selling the citizenship of this great little country of ours for money. Is this what independence was supposed to mean to us?

Where are our bright spots after 36 years of independence? All we see are token achievements and short-term gains in the productive sectors, education, sports, human development and everywhere else. Our most sustainable achievement has been political tribalism, disunity and total despair.

Undoubtedly, St Lucia has produced many outstanding sons and daughters. Most of us know only a handful of them, like the Nobel Laureates, but the Creator en- dowed St Lucia with many brilliant minds that have been put to use in countries all over the world, as far as Africa. Yet at home, we are nearly scraping the bottom of the barrel finding capable people to run our affairs. When last did we have a government or a parliament that could be described as a credit to our country on the basis of their ability to take us forward?

This independence anniversary finds us in a most disappointing, dismal and hopeless condition and looking ahead we can see no sign, not a single one, that things are going to improve anytime soon.

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