Letters & Opinion

Listening to Distant Drums and Drowning in a Sea of Nothingness!

Image of Carlton Ishmael
By Carlton Ishmael

For many reasons and for many years, all we do is show the external of this country.

It’s always about the Pitons and Mount Gimie, the greenery and our black-and-white sand beaches, or our Rum. We boast about our drive-in volcano and talk about our fine hotels and lush resorts.

Granted, all these features and sites do sell the country, but where are the Things St. Lucian and where do visitors see our Visual Arts? And where do they sample our Music or watch one of the many plays penned by our Walcott Brothers and many other accomplished playwrights?

Where do you find our performers or eat our local dishes? Is there an exhibition place or museum to see our history, or get our poetry, or experience part of our heritage? Do we show-off our wooden canoes or how our local fish nets or fish pots or other traditional things are made? Do we ever let them sample our cocoa tea or drink a local coconut water, or see how cashew nuts are roasted, or castor oil is made?

What ‘Truly St. Lucian’ do we display? Where are our home-made crafts, local coal pots or other earthen artifacts to be found? Where do we get our literature or documentaries stored, or even our music?

The point I am trying to make is that the real St. Lucia is never seen or known, our dancing is not seen, and there’s no music at visiting or departure lounges. We sell all that is found elsewhere, or is common to everyone and is found everywhere. But then, how do the local artisans and our performing artistes get their moment to perform, or be able to showcase their art?

Do our clothing designers or local greats get featured anywhere?

Why do we suppress all that is US and show all that is of nothing near as good as our culture? Why do our radio stations insist on playing mainly foreign music? Where are our videos? Or movies done about us?

We always talk about unemployment but do nothing to improve local talent or showcase it.

Who are we trying to please? Who really are you helping? Who are supposed to profit from visitors? When do we truly get a piece of the pie? What part of St. Lucia the tourists take back? Why do we sell everything that is imported and have only small quantities of what we do visible?

I feel that the powers that be are playing to a different beat, they hear the music of a distant drum and wonder why a whole generation has gone wayward. They question why there is No Love for Country, or what we sometimes call National Pride.

We seem to have no purpose to stay here and care little about life or country. But I say ‘Wheel and come again’ because until we embrace what belongs to US, we will always be second class in our own country.

We have to invest in US, we need a new lease on life, we need to belong and stop only wondering where the next dollar will come from, or how will we put food on our tables. We need to show that there is more to life than being academic and we need to let our people know that if they are creative, they can and will also survive.

We need a real change of our values.  We have to change the way we do things. We must change the present education or mindset. We are drowning in a Sea of Nothingness.

We need to breathe, revive and be counted. We need to look down the road — and build a future. Otherwise, we will have a new national anthem that’s more like Jim Reeves song that says: “I hear the sound of Distant Drums, far away, far away… And I must go, and you will stay…

Now, I am sure we don’t all want our children to be singing that song in school every morning, so we had better start thinking about and doing things for US, before it’s too late…

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