Letters & Opinion

Sadly, we’ve become a people without a country!

Image of Carlton Ishmael
By Carlton Ishmael

It never ceases to amaze me how we treat our heritage or our ancestral way of life. Once a year we put on our costumes and try to speak creole and eat as much creole food as we can.

We forget that if we kept in touch with our roots and culture, that most of the illnesses that we encounter today, can or could be healed with traditional medicines. We also have not realized that if we wore more garments of a traditional nature, more nationals would make a legitimate living through their creativity. If we chose to purchase more local fish and crayfish, even land crabs and eat more backyard animals, more ordinary people would be able to eke-out a living.

There is much to gain from localization and appreciating that which is created by us. It is easy to buy, or get ready-made items, but nothing beats the original.

We spend so much time and money to enrich the supermarket chains and pay little attention to quality, and the amount of processed foods that we use and eat, our diet is laced with preservatives and we assist ourselves in contaminating our bodies. Our shoe makers cannot make a living because we don’t wear local-made sandals, but go for foreign-branded shoes.

We look more like Europeans than West Indians, or African descendants. We build great big homes to impress others and destroy our close-knitted families. And we have considered teaching Mandarin at schools before considering teaching Creole. All praises therefore to our musicians and some artiste who have kept the Creole language alive, through their songs and music, but generally most of us give little regard for things cultural or creole, unless it is Creole Heritage Month. We go for Rap, R&B and Dub, we love Country & Western, our radio stations play 90% imported music and we think that makes us cool.

Going back to our roots could be the answer to our survival, but as long as we put foreign things first, we will always be part-timers. We suppress the herbs and go for pills and imported medicines; we give our children corn flakes for breakfast and don’t introduce them to avocado and farine (Fawine ek Zaboka), or casava, or roasted plantains. No more Toloma, or Lowanjette, no grounded local coffee, cocoa sticks take a back-seat, a good breakfast is to go by Rituals, a good lunch is by KFC and a good drink is a Scotch because it makes us feel important.

Wow! How I wish we saw the value of our Creole heritage. How I wish we saw merit in our culture.

We listen to the media, we get influenced by advertising, we travel and want to do like we see others do elsewhere, we talk Jamaican, we spend two weeks in New York and come back talking Yankee, we have gangs, we keep killing each other like foreigners do, we steal and rip-off each other, trying our best to do like others do in other countries, and we have lost our identity and all the values passed-on through tradition.

Our problem is: we lack identity. We do not pay attention to our history. We have forgotten our past and seek a future that is alien. It’s now all-about fast cars and motorbikes, even though we see many of our people dying from our newly-adopted lifestyle. It’s about living fast and dying young, living in the times, living like the Joneses. We feel we have become global, we are international and we are a product of the world, but in truth and in fact we have become a people without country and no true identity. Yes, this is who we are: a people with a body but without a soul for the land that gave us birth.


  1. This article has hit the nail on the head. St Lucia could do so much to BOOST the economy by PUSHING agricultural industry. Agriculture is not only for food, but for housing, clothing, medicines, well-being, and the list goes on. St Lucia should not be importing fruit juices from Barbados – which does NOT have an agricultural economy. (Do the math.)

    Unfortunately, from school, we are indoctrinated into working FOR people (mainly so called “investors”) and not for ourselves; by investing IN ourselves and what we can produce. It is high time to curtail the “cottage industrialists”, and start honing the “commercial industrialists”!! It may take a generation – but St Lucians NEED to begin working for themselves, by themselves on a commercial level. If only we have help from BIG BANKA, and government agencies and officials.

    Well done, and well said Carlton – but we need to go many steps higher and further!!

  2. boost farming ??? remember the Tomato farmer in the south where cows destroyed his farms and he got little or no help to reimburse him for the damage/loss.
    Long as problems like this exist who will go into farming ?

  3. How did this happen?

    One of the downfalls of St.Lucians is the bad habit of – follow fashion

    When television, cell phones and the World Wide Web grabbed our people by their mauvais mess, that was the end of St. Lucian selfhood.

    What the caterpillar left the locust ate.

    The 80’s generation said
    Ma ca fair ish moi shays fig

    And the children of the 80’s knew nothing about- faire jardin.

    The 90’s generation said.
    Ma ca bai ish moi mange bwapain

    And the children of the 90’s learned to eat cornflakes

    Who is left to teach them how to sew a dress; seya bois pour faire cai- yo

    Who is there to make them understand – pas jalouse bagai mone. Oh pas savre-sa yo faire pour- le.

    No stone rolls that is not pushed. Who caused today’s generation to abandon life and opt for death?

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