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A people focused Independence

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As we reposition ourselves to ensure our survival in today’s world, central to the process must be an unwavering ambition to empower our human resource base. A people focused approach to independence, linking the positives derived from the attainment of political sovereignty, to the quest to seek innovative ways and means to address the many challenges which we will face as a people is a recommended way forward.{{more}}

Being born a near fourteen months after our nation’s attainment of political independence, I am only able to speak authoritatively of pre-independence issues from an analysis of the work of historians. Nevertheless, since the independence of our nation is in a state of constant evolution, I am able to capture many post-independence experiences within a time frame and context worthy of discussion.

On many occasions, articles are penned describing concepts, or analysing the impact of events in an abstract sense. However, it is always important to take the time to share your innermost experiences as you seek to address many of the questions which confront us from time to time.

Independence may mean many different things to different persons, at different times in their lives and for varying reasons. The way you view independence or fail to appreciate its dynamism is shaped by your socio-economic environment. It, therefore, begs the question as to whether we are at a stage where, while we celebrate our national independence on the 27th October each year, are we able to personalise the moment by answering the question: What does independence mean to me?

Being from a purely rural background, the son of a farming family and community, it is without question that independence or dependence, and the definition that I value for any of the two, must be tied closely to agriculture, or simply farming as a form of livelihood.

I recall quite vividly, a debate at the Cave Hill Campus. When the issue of agriculture arose, I hastened to share, that “my childhood was predominantly dictated by the elements.” It was with great ease that I further explained that being a child from a farming community, where banana farming formed the basis of your survival; that your appreciation of the wind, rain and sunshine are purely to be understood within the context of the resultant impact on the banana plant which was your primary source of livelihood. I closed by showing the link directly that if I had not attained a banana scholarship from the Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Banana Association that my ability to afford a secondary school education may have been in jeopardy.

It is at this point that I must pause to recognise the contribution that the banana farmers have made to my life, the life of families, communities, our nation and our region, to the sustainability of our relative economic independence, and political sovereignty. Banana farmers have produced and continue to produce not only a fruit rich in phosphorus, potassium and vitamin A and C, but they have impacted on the human side of this nation directly and indirectly to produce great farmers, teachers, nurses, lawyers, doctors and policy makers. In other words, banana farming has assisted in transforming our way of life, to the extent that any discussion of personal independence would be void if it fails to contain the enormous contribution made by the banana industry to the socio-economic advancement of our people.

An analysis of independence by the post-independence generation (referring to children born after 1979) must also be studied within the context of the importance of education in positively influencing the self. One may easily be very certified, and still negatively dependant. However, very few who take the time to endear themselves to the people would not be able to rest at ease without aspiring to remove the negative qualities of unbridled dependency. One’s ability to grasp the basic concepts which determine the basis for life, and intelligently administer them to solve current problems forms the foundation upon which an independent livelihood can be built. It is in this light that many support the zest with which the courage to intensify the implementation of our nation’s education plan has been structured and implemented, to the extent that it has resulted in a veritable revolution.

It is, therefore, suggested, that a man’s independence can be shown to evolve around three basic concepts. Firstly, the need to ensure sustainable livelihood; secondly, the realisation of our dreams to educate one’s self and by extension to assist in educating others within our social environment; and thirdly, but by no means last, a firm belief in the Supreme Divinity of God, are fundamental to our survival. Any subtraction from this formulation may provide a fertile ground for disaster.

As our society advances, the manner in which we appreciate our national sovereignty must also seek to keep abreast with such changes. Further, as we chart our way through a basic needs shopping list for our society, we must feel confident that whatever the circumstances, that deep within us are the answers which can bring about the much needed critical changes, which will positively change our relations to labour, our fellowmen and to our recognition of the importance of nature.

Saboto Caesar is a Lawyer and Unity Labour Party Senator.

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