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Beating the drums of Vincentian national identity

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Michael Jordan, considered by many to be the greatest basketball player who has ever lived, was once accused of bragging. And Jordan issued his now famous reply, “It ain’t bragging if you can do it.” 

Jordan’s recognition that being rightfully proud of one’s accomplishments and bringing them to the forefront of public attention need no apologies, is a principle that Vincentians might do well to emulate.

We are at a point in our national development when we are seeking to carve out for ourselves a name in crowded international markets, where our sister Caribbean islands and places beyond the Caribbean are themselves making valiant efforts to stand out.

This is where Vincentian inventiveness and distinctiveness come in.

We carry on our back page a story about Sunset Very Strong Rum, which many Vincentians proclaim to be the very best over-proof rum in the world. This award winning rum is a product of St Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG), which Vincentians say has no match. It is the distinctive properties of this beverage and the bragging rights associated with it which create a tremendous appeal among Vincentians around the world. As a nation, there is much we can take away from the story of our strong rum.

What else do we, as a nation, have that cannot be easily substituted by others? In positioning ourselves to compete internationally, this is the question we need to answer. Just what are the Vincentian qualities, resources and products which make us stand out and how best do we develop and market them?

Are there agricultural commodities grown in our rich volcanic soil whose quality is such that international markets will pay top dollar for them? What about our natural resources? Among them are the beautiful sailing waters of the Grenadines, including the Tobago Cays, our La Soufrière volcano, with one of the largest craters in the world and our Botanic Gardens, the oldest of its kind in the Western Hemisphere. What about the

handicraft made by our artisans from our grasses, leaves and beads. How can we develop and market these resources to increase their appeal?

There is also our Nine Mornings festival, which surely stands out as a unique festival without counterpart anywhere in the Caribbean.

Once we have identified what is special about us, we must claim it and proclaim it to the world. We must also embrace the very essence of those claims. At the heart of those claims is the idea that St Vincent and the Grenadines possesses a value, a dignity, a pride that is nonnegotiable, irreducible, a steady anchor in the storm of changes that confront us every day.   

We must be prepared to meet these changes without fear. Indeed, we should welcome them. Here, too, we have role models who have confronted the future with a level of creativity that should inspire all of us. In this issue of MIDWEEK Searchlight, we begin the celebration of the 2017 winners of the Best of SVG awards with a series of articles, which will run in both Midweek and Weekend Searchlight until the end of the year.

We at the SEARCHLIGHT will always be ready to beat the drums of our collective imagination as Vincentians to make a distinctive contribution to the world. We ask all Vincentians to do the same.

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