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An Evolution or a Revolution


The dynamics of our past political dependency on Britain can never be fully appreciated by a mere cursory reading of any history text. One must always look askance at failure to fully appreciate the transition from an island of slaves to one of freemen dependent on their Colonial masters for governance. Therefore, the transition which ushered political independence must be considered not only as a move to attain full sovereignty or self autonomy as a people, but as a concretization and securing of the gains received from as early as emancipation in 1834. {{more}}

One must feel a great deal of sympathy for an analyst who subscribes to the view that our nation was not yet ready for Independence. It would not be surprising though if such persons ask, “Were Slaves ready for freedom?” In being critical one must take care to be analytical.

If one expected political Independence to have a revolutionary impact in all spheres of our society in an immediate sense, then I guess some are disappointed. However, the more reasoned expectation is to consider political independence as a means to an end and not an end in and of itself. Instead, independence has to be viewed as a process, a transition from a pro-colonial past to a home-grown pro-Vincentian structure cemented by the struggles of our people.

Is Colonial dependency ruling us from its grave?

Our present legal and political system was molded by the very same systems from which we sought to become independent. One may even add that since most of the social norms were maintained in some respects as mere ornamentations, and in other respects as active guides for the future, we can still consider the reception of Independence to be a true transition of our people. This begs the question as to what then were the real changes brought about by the “Independence” which we celebrate each year?

Firstly, as a result of political independence, our nation secured the authority to make its own laws which were binding on its people. In other words, the power to make laws was relinquished by our former Colonial masters.

Secondly, all positions in the State, be it a judge or commissioner of police, became open to the citizens. During our period of dependency, such positions were reserved either formally for the British or informally for the local elite.

Thirdly, Independence brought with it a sacred document in the form of our written Constitution containing provisions for a Bill of rights, laying out fundamental political rights and civil liberties.

It is however interesting to note that these achievements were secured by our nation a mere 26 years ago and not earlier. What is more than baffling though, is that those who are entertained at “Club Pessimistic” on the one hand contend that St. Vincent and the Grenadines was not ready for Independence, yet such person go to great lengths in comparing our nation’s youthful success with nations which almost a decade and a half before us had already bravely pursued the transition, and had begun to experiment with various forms of government. Barbados, Trinidad and Tobago and Jamaica must be commended in this regard.

Good governance is central to our nation’s development in a Post-Colonial era. The governance of our nation has been removed from the mother country and placed in the hands of men and women who are offshoots of our local circumstances. Hence, the onus is on our leaders to secure and continue the evolutionary process, which formally began in 1979.

The writer refers to leaders as not being only those who are selected to hold Ministerial posts. Instead, each and every Vincentian must consider himself or herself as being a leader in whatever sector they may be placed, to work together with the common aim of perpetuating progress and securing the fruits of our independence.

In a dispensation of regional integration, the role and function of the Caribbean Single Market and Economy once properly planned, structured and conceived would act as a further expression and deepening of our political independence and sovereignty. Despite our reservations, the removal of the Privy Council, and the institution of the CCJ as a court possessed of both a final appellate jurisdiction and an original jurisdiction must be entrusted in the hands of men and women from our region. The finality of such will come with time.

Furthermore, the aim of our government to pursue Constitutional reform, and the present Revolution in the administration and reception of education is most commendable. This is a sure sign that our system of governance and social enlightenment is reaching out to the needs of our people. As a citizen of a truly free, democratic and independent state we must be eager to secure our nation’s Independence. STAND FIRM!