February 22 is a day all Saint Lucians should celebrate, after all, it is the day Saint Lucia got its independence from Britain, the commencement day in which Saint Lucia begun to chart its own destiny based on decisions made by Saint Lucians, right here at home. February 22 is supposed to be a day of liberation, a day of deliverance. But are we truly liberated and what exactly are we delivered from?
Historians could write a book based on the aforementioned questions. They could list a number of things we were liberated from on gaining Independence 42 years ago. And they would be right. But any historian worth his/her salt would realise that as a people, we are not entirely liberated.
Forty-two years of steering our own ship and yet we still have not understood some of the basic factors needed to truly liberate us and put us on a track of true progress.
For instance we are still under investing in education, as noted by educators as recently as this week.
It was Marcus Mosiah Garvey who coined the term “mental slavery” in a speech in 1938 and meant it in the context of knowing African history and in developing one’s own mind. He said the man who does not develop and use his mind is bound to be the slave of the other man who uses his mind. Garvey made it clear that a people without the knowledge of their past history, origin and culture is like a tree without roots.
We can say that over the years, as a people, we have failed to realize that our success educationally, industrially, politically and economically depends on us, a nation founded by ourselves.
As a people we continually allow ourselves to dance to the tunes played by others, even our politicians who have a superficial agenda of national development.
The lack of a real education, one that could liberate our minds, has allowed for the detrimental politicisation of the country to the point that today political parties see themselves as opposing whatever the other party does or says and are incapable of agreeing on one plan for national development and following through on that plan whichever one is in power.
Criticism of any party in power, constructive or otherwise, is avidly attacked by those not in power and rapturously supported by any political party that is in power.
Clear thinking can hardly wade through the political muck that passes for political enlightenment in Saint Lucia today. The plethora of talk shows that bombard the country on a daily basis are either supportive of one political party or another.
Too many debates of no particular substance which are hosted by persons who sing strictly from the hymnbook of one political party or another are tolerated in this country,.
How many of us can properly build on the foundations built by our two Nobel Laureates who we claim to love and admire? How many of us have reverence and are in awe of the sacrifices and achievements of these two gentlemen, who together, have done more for saint Lucia on the world stage than the scores of politicians who claim to be working in the people’s interest.
True we must celebrate our day of independence this year and each year to come, from generation to generation. However in doing so, we need to remember from whence we came and to decide where we, as a people, want to be five, ten, fifteen years from now.
We must ask ourselves why, after 42 years we are still struggling to put real work into play to bring Saint Lucians together? Why, after 42 years controversial decisions are taken by governing administrations with little or no participation from citizens? Why, after 42 years we are still fraught with problems not only in our education system but in our health care and other social systems? Above all, why, as a people do we let selfish agendas play out to the detriment of our Nation?