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Community involvement leads the way

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The traditional Vincy Christmas is with us again. We have had official openings of the “lighting up” communities and the grand launch of the Nine Mornings Festival, replete with splendour. The popular Carol-singing competitions are underway as the Christmas atmosphere envelopes the whole of our country.{{more}} Significantly, the major Christmas activities rely for their success on what has always been the basis of our unique Christmas festival – community involvement. Is there not a message there for us?

If we take these three aspects of the revived Vincy Christmas, the community lighting-up, Nine Mornings activities and the carol singing, it is this active community involvement, more than anything else, which makes them what they have become. The enthusiastic involvement of young and old, men and women, neighbour and friend results in an outpouring of the creative talents of our people. These are manifested in art, song, dance, drama and various other aspects of our culture. It is as though these talents were just waiting on the opportunity to flower.

One can now visit almost any community in St. Vincent and Grenadines and get a glimpse and taste of Vincy Christmas. In addition to the Christmas revival, it has provided a solid foundation on which we can market a vibrant and valuable tourist product – Nine Mornings in St. Vincent and the Grenadines. It is a product which can prove to be a valuable gem if we polish and perfect it, even as it enriches our cultural experience. Ours is the challenge to seize this opportunity.

At the same time, and on a wider scale, what can we learn about the value of such community participation? It certainly provides more than a point that therein lies the key to our thrust for national development. It is all well and good to have good macro-economic policies, but in the final analysis it is our people, at the community level, on whom the burden of success or failure will lie. Facilitate and support their participation, repose confidence in their abilities, and the benefits will be demonstrated for all to see.

Perhaps this is a telling indicator of the need for us to treat the issue of local government reform with a greater degree of urgency and seriousness. In more ways than one, our people are demonstrating that at the community level, they are perfectly capable and willing to undertake the tasks of managing their development. They do not have to rely on political parties and central administrations. In fact, activities like those surrounding Christmas are proving to be unifying forces in contrast to the political divisions. Let us absorb this message and put it into practice.