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Emancipation Day – Some reflections

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Over the past 15 years more or less, I have spent every midnight July 31 and the early morning of August 1, at Earlene’s Square in Diamonds Village with fellow villagers. This year was no exception. On Monday night from as early as 7 p.m. the gathering was called to order and a prayer was done as we began what is now known as a “Freedom Watch”.

After the national anthem was sung, a film, the “Biography of Dr. Martin Luther King” was shown.{{more}}

This was followed by a brief discussion on the contribution of the late Dr. King in the fight against racial segregation.##:[more]## The significance of this film was to show that although physical emancipation had been obtained in 1834, there were still many civil liberties which Dr. King and his followers were ready to die for, and for which the struggle continued. This showed that the emancipation of 1834 left much to be desired.

However, there remained a very important question even after the film, and that is “does the struggle continue”? If this question is answered in the affirmative, then in what form should it be continued? The observation from the gathering was clear – that there is a large section of our youthful population who are in need of guidance. They are in need of the instilling of a youthful vigor equivalent to that energy required to ensure that our society does not fall into relapse on the retirement of our seniors.

Within this group of youth who are found wanting, there are persons who do not at all keep abreast with the current affairs of their country and are fed by the wayside with information which for the most part is unfounded. Within this group also resides great potential and ability, however there seems to be no systematic means of making this group marketable and able to be weaved back into main stream of society. Instead, this group of ‘have nots’ is seen as outcasts by those who have, and in many instances are avoided even by the Church, and are further labeled not as Vincentians, but as citizens of the “Dark Side” of society. An end must be brought to this urgently if we intend to live in peace and safety in this country in the next 20 years. We must never forsake our divine instructions that we are to “go into the highways and the by-ways” and minister.

Further, it is here that you find persons who criticize for criticizing sake.

This nation’s step to have Universal Access to Secondary Education should make them consider their attempts as an injustice on the youth development of this country. Many persons who have grown to adopt the ‘block culture’ of sitting by the wayside in despondency are the very same ones who may not have been afforded a place in a Secondary school after their Common Entrance Examination. Can you begin to imagine the extent to which a nation would have denied such an individual the opportunity for self-development and by extension for national contribution?

What we see today as a result of our past negligence is a group which has not been properly cared for. Although attempts at adult literacy is an excellent idea and has been a success to a large extent, a lot more has to be done to get into the minds and hearts of those who are despondent. Whilst those in authority are advocating positive change, a more modern mode of ensuring that information reaches the ears of the disheartened youth should be employed. That must be our focus. For far too long we have preached to the converted and have failed to reach the lost. This issue goes straight to the heart of poverty alleviation, our war against crime and many of its connecting issues. Probably the suggestion of large-scale technical and vocational centres may be a good idea to assist in solving the problem in the short to medium term.

Further, one cannot over emphasize that our population besides being comprised of a highly migrant people is comparatively a mere handful. This suggests that in order to keep pace with the rapidly changing current trends, we must indeed work harder than some of our neighboring islands. In St. Vincent and the Grenadines, our limited numbers is an indicator that we cannot afford to leave behind anyone. In our circumstances it becomes very real that the state cannot carry us on its back, instead we must take the state forward.

The reality in this our blessed nation is that there is almost a non-existent rural private sector. Owing to this lack in private sector investment in rural areas among other factors, an individual who is trapped by the system’s misfortunes faces a very dark future. Hence one sees the practicability in our Government’s having a Ministry of Rural Transformation.

Emancipation Day 2006 has come and gone, but the importance of the day lives on with those who live the reality of freedom. Thanks must always be given to persons such as Brother Oscar Allen for the inspiration which he brings to many youth as it pertains to issues of social development. What was striking and at the same time very enriching is the participation of youth such as Keve King among others who practically organized the event with the assistance of Oscar Allen.

As we move forward, let us, however, not wait until August 1, 2007 to remember that we are free. May God bless you.

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