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Nation building in context

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There is no better time to discuss issues touching and concerning nation building than in the season where we recognise our National Hero. Our courageous and fearless Joseph Chatoyer was spirited by his commitment to patriotic sacrifice in a struggle for our people against Colonisation and his relentless efforts will forever be enveloped in the chambers of our heart. Oftentimes we interpret nation building to mean an abstract concept, only intended for a localised few. On the contrary, nation building is for every Vincentian.{{more}}

It is true to say that nation-building means different things to different people. To appreciate the idea of nation-building, one needs to have some definition of the subject matter, hence the question: what is a nation? For our purposes, a nation can simply be defined as a group of people who share a common geographical space and history. On the issue of ‘building’, the question is often asked, is it that an individual is simply born with an innate drive to build, or is it that an individual is moulded into being the builder that he becomes? It is an important issue to be addressed since nation building is of such great importance to the future success of our people that it must never be relegated to the levels of mere guesswork or chance. Instead, we must continue to scientifically approach the subject matter of moulding our human resource base so that we will be able to facilitate the development that we need for the betterment of our people.

Nation building must always be seen in the general context of development. What are the indicators that we must use to assess our work in making our nation a better place? Some questions we must continue to ask about our country’s development are therefore: What has been happening to poverty? What has been happening to unemployment? What has been happening to inequality? If all these have declined from high levels, then beyond doubt this has been a period of development. As it pertains to employment, in the National Budget of 2009, the Government has created seventy-one new positions; continued significant investment in the Youth Empowerment Programme, which is further cemented by the maintenance of a stable economic environment and the creation of numerous opportunities offered by the State’s Bank which facilitates private investment, and by extension avenues for private sector employment.

Our nation’s housing stock is constantly being improved. Our Government’s housing programme is exemplary and the impact is far reaching. For not only are homes being built at a rate like never before for Middle, Low and No income persons, which speaks to the development of the physical infrastructure, but socially, when the State intervenes directly to improve the housing stock aimed at benefitting the poor and working class, it is a direct attempt to address the issue of class inequality. We have a nation to build it is clear, but we must never allow for the creation of a circumstance where our opportunities far outweigh our capacity.

Tribute to Larry Bascombe

The late Larry Bascombe has left indelible footprints in the sand as it relates to his selfless efforts in his struggles to advance and encourage youth participation in sports in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines. He was a nation builder of class who was never afraid to take a bold stance on the most controversial sporting issue. His independence of thought, fearlessness and aggressive passion for all sporting disciplines assisted to lift the bar in almost every facet of the sporting arena. Sports in the Marriaqua Valley and surrounding areas have benefited tremendously from the work of this giant.

We will never forget the challenge of this excellent commentator to “Give pride and place to the Nation State of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines. In a society where our youth are becoming involved at all levels of work, academia and volunteerism, it is paramount that we ensure that the bond possible through sports is both existent, and functioning, in order to cement the many other chords which bind us as a people. Larry’s contribution to sports in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines was aimed directly at ensuring this.

He has left behind a legacy, one which is characterised by a type of patriotic passion unique to those who advocate unselfishly for the progress, advancement and betterment of our people.

Youth to fill the Gap

Consider this as a vision for our society – a country where our citizens, particularly our youth within the prime of the economically active age group, are informed about and engaged in all major issues that affect their lives. As our young nation builders are encouraged, our youth must seek to become actively involved in the development process. For far too long we have just sat on the fence. For instance, our nation is in the middle of the process of rewriting a most antiquated document through a vigorous process of Constitutional reform, our young people must join the cause.

There are three frequently cited reasons used to exclude the youth from the highest levels of participation in nation building. Firstly, young people are generally perceived as lacking the necessary skills and qualities; secondly, young people are not afforded the opportunities to share power with adults; and thirdly, young people are portrayed as lacking the motivation. In our circumstances, the Government has strategically implemented a series of policies to ensure that the future of our country, of which our youth will have to take charge, will never drift into the abyss of poverty, and that our youth are actively brought into the loop. Our youth must be constantly challenged about taking up their roles and duties as responsible citizens.

Certainly, the important role that education plays in the development of any nation is beyond question. With a radically reformed education system, today, our children are guaranteed a place in a secondary school. The increased access to University education has already had the impact of moulding a cadre of individuals certified with certain specialised expertise. It is safe to say now more than ever before that we are becoming more progressive in our efforts to equip our young people to stand in the gap. As our society constantly evolves, it impacts directly on the changes which must be made by all stakeholders in the education system. Simply, with the development of a comprehensive education policy, we must all be constant in our efforts at the wheels. We all have a significant part to play in building our nation!

Saboto Caesar is a Lawyer and Unity Labour Party Senator.

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