I begin with a confession that for some persons the independence journey never got off the ground. And pointing fingers at this stage will do no good. Better to recognize the truth and use it to shape a better future. Persons who are incapable of independent thought (that is, without regurgitating someone else’s opinion), have no place in the planning process that marks independence. Let me be clear. It takes a certain amount of radical thinking. And I confess that I am no radical, only a free thinker; one who questions what the eyes behold and searches for deeper answers to that which the imagination perceives – the rare possibilities.
Indeed, I often remind myself that Jesus Christ was a radical, not me. I would resist a political journey that would end in my demise, if I could help it. Jesus Christ did no such thing even though he was at times careful to warn those whom he had healed to ‘mention this to no one.’ Of course, people talked, and when his good deeds reached the hierarchy in Jerusalem he was seen as a threat. He was to be stopped at all cost and be put to death.
No one can say such a thing about me, or about John Compton or George Charles, or even George Odlum of the nineteen fifties and early sixties? The truth is that there were amongst the early political activists ‘prophets’ and ‘philosophers’ of little education and fewer skills, but there were also medical doctors, lawyers and prominent businessmen, and educated farmers among the early political visionaries and radicals.
I had participated fairly in the most important aspects of the foundation towards political independence – by which I mean attempting to educate the masses on this island on various aspects of their history and culture – including the use of Creole and the journey to be undertaken if one wished to be truly independent. For some independence was stillborn for at least two reasons. Fear that the masses would demand an independence constitution that would transfer power from the old aristocracy and plantation into their hands. Reluctance by those who wished for independence, to compromise with new ideas for a new constitution. Was anyone told beforehand that, independence would be meaningless without consistent hard work?
From this day forward, at least try and set the hypocrisy aside and reboot ‘independence’ by setting aside the exclusivity of the plantation and colonial mind set and instead taking on new ideas for 2017 and beyond even from those who are sometimes perceived as ‘the enemy.’
In addition to the reasons given there remains one major concern which some so called leaders are afraid to mention. I refer to the colours of the national banner – the flag. A sizeable number of citizens will remain unfulfilled and unhappy, as long as the national flag remains minus the red – and green for good measure. There are persons who believe sincerely that ‘red’ was marginalized and left to languish due to a fear of communism. The man who designed it may not have felt that way but what can one say about those who judged the contest and selected the flag?
The fact that there are persons who are quick to point fingers at whom or what may be responsible for the lacklustre thirty-seven year’s celebrations proves my point, doesn’t it? But it’s not too late to bend the future in an all inclusive national agenda, flag and anthem and all – including a new constitution along the lines of the Suzie d’Auvergne Constitution Review Committee, as reported.
How should we proceed? A picture of a man wearing a black T-shirt with the words ‘100% Saint Lucian” printed at its front and the ‘A’ in ‘Saint’ in the form of a map of the island bearing the national flag. Neither the words nor the design meant more than a simple acknowledgement of 37 years of independence. However, as the wearer was also Prime Minister of the island, it smacked of hypocrisy because that same man spends more time teaching his party faithful to hate the colour yellow because it is seen as that of the UWP – the minority party in parliament. By the way, he also teaches hatred for the leader of the UWP – Allen Chastanet.
A true confession by the Prime Minister (PM), acknowledging the yellow in the flag while pointing out the need for a little red (and green?), would have been a more manly thing to do at the 37th anniversary of independence. As things now stand the Prime Minister and his lot tried hard to impose red wherever they can and however they can on portraits of independence 2016 and on the psychic of the people wherever one turns. It reminds one of the heyday of the USSR. Unfortunately, such raw political force no longer works especially with people who value their freedom. People see the SLP sham and are angered by it.
The truth remains that the STAR promotion would have hit the mark had the words on the shirt worn by the Prime Minister on the back of last weekend’s STAR newspaper read: ‘The Journey has not begun for the Red.’ It would have struck the PM’s fiercest opponents as more truthful, honest, and more representative of the sentiments of his party. His honesty would have signalled a new sign of hope around the corner.
For those who have been on the independence journey it is now past high time to develop a new and more creative national independence agenda. The outlines of such an agenda will be suggested in next week’s piece.