Our Politics Sickening! Our Democracy Farcical!
I was driven to this topic after seeing on mornings trucks lined up outside BRAGSA, waiting for goodies; lumber, cement, galvanise, I believe, to be distributed throughout the country, even to people who do not need them. What is most sickening about this is that it takes place every five years when we are called on to exercise our right to vote. Is this what we have come to 182 years after Emancipation when we are into our 40th year of Independence, a year of ‘renewal’ we are told!
Are we so desperate to stay on the plantations, not sugar but the political ones? One of the major areas of conflict in the period prior to Emancipation, arose over the ownership of provision grounds and houses that the slaves used and considered their own. They had, one slave claimed in 1833, worked long enough for them. The provision grounds, in particular, they cherished because they provided them with a degree of independence. They sold the proceeds at the weekly Market and some were able to use the proceeds to purchase their freedom. It gave them an opportunity to socialise and chat with their brethren on other estates. Along with their homes they provided the space to retain their African culture. In any event as they moved closer to Emancipation their aim was to be independent of the plantations, with the option to work there when it was necessary, provided wages were adequate and conditions satisfactory.
Emancipation and Independence later, were to them and their descendants an opportunity to develop themselves, by their own means. What would they have said if they saw their descendants waiting anxiously for handouts? I am simply here making the connection between Emancipation and Independence. But what was Independence about? It was not only about breaking the physical colonial bonds, but about emancipating the mind from the legacies of slavery and colonialism and providing a platform to develop ourselves and our country. The Westminster political system we inherited was to be used to achieve the goals we dreamt about. We boast about our solid democratic system, but Grenada has already exposed that lie.
Forty-one years after Independence the system should allow a Government in power to campaign on its record, especially when it has been in power for 20 years. The Opposition party should tell us what it intends to do differently and to critique what is happening. The media should be critical in this exercise, the 4th estate as it is labelled. In 2020 our education should allow us to have a healthy conversation, respecting each other’s views in the process. The political parties should present their teams for our examination, not preaching the invincibility of anyone other than the God we worship. We should be equipped to defend our democracy. Ironically, we are only able to exercise this once every five years but even then, fail to do so. We are captured by an education system that presents us with certificates that allow us to be sold to the highest bidder. The slaves were chattels. Today we continue to be used as commodities. Those we have given the right to govern on our behalf do what they know they can get away with.
We have not been exposed to critical thinking, for to do so will be to allow us to recognise that we are the real power and we select persons to work on our behalf, with the ability to extend that privilege or to take it away without being subjected to any machinations. But what do we expect of them? To build our physical and social infrastructure and provide us with the tools to be active participants in our development. To teach us to fish! Not to give us fish! Certainly not to try to impress us with material symbols!
Dr Adrian Fraser is a social commentator and historian