As we say goodbye to 2011
The good old days
I made my way from Kingstown to Barrouallie at about 5:00 pm on Christmas Day and was struck by the empty streets. In the past, particularly in the country areas, after enjoying their Christmas dinner and family companionship, it was usual to see persons gathering on the streets, some of them admittedly inebriated. There were few vehicles on the road at that time, this year, at least between Kingstown and Barrouallie. These are different times, and with television at home to look at, and with the economic situation becoming a state of worry to many people, it is understandable if we see changes in the manner in which people spend their Christmas.
There are some of us who hold on to the concept of the good, old days which we fail to realise might have been good only for some. In any event, as the years go by, one can expect changes as persons respond to different stimuli in the physical and social environment. Very often, we hold on to things which we consider to be part of our cultural heritage, forgetting that some of the things which we did in the past and continue to do today came about because of certain features in the environment. Once those features change, our practices also change as they adapt to new influences. We have also to realise that we did things in the past which today we need to reject because of their detrimental impact on the environment or on our health or because they are out of place in todayâs environment. On another note, which has to do with the revival of cultural practices and maintaining aspects of our cultural and historical legacies, there is a particular matter that I must take this opportunity to comment on. This has to do with the revival of the Garifuna language. Some people have been calling for the revival of the language which our original inhabitants used and which is now lost to us as Vincentians. If persons want to learn the language out of curiosity, there is nothing wrong with that, but to make an attempt to get it into schools as some persons were suggesting is bordering on the absurd. Language is a living thing and its attraction will depend on our ability to use it to communicate. If we were to bring persons from Central America where descendants of the Garifuna people live to begin to teach the language to Vincentians they are not going to be teaching the language as it was spoken here. It would have undergone a number of changes having blended with the other languages spoken in that area. My main point, however, is that there is little to make it attractive to young persons in an environment where we have completely lost that original language.
The Christian Councilâs Message
The Christian Council in this yearâs Christmas Message has once more placed some emphasis on the divisions within our society. It states: âAs a society, we have tolerated division; some of us have promoted it actively… This national pastime is destroying our nation. We have serious challenges facing us that require all of us working together…â It identifies some of the scourges that are destroying our country. This is something that certainly needs to be emphasized. The question is how do we begin to overcome this problem? It is my view that changes to our political culture and environment are necessary and that this is where the Christian Council needs to focus its effort. Just speaking about it is not going to get it resolved. Some action is needed or the Council will be repeating this again next year.
Dr Adrian Fraser is a social commentator and historian.