Are Vincentians Patriotic?
This is a question I ask myself very often whenever I observe other countries. It almost feels offensive to question my fellow citizens on their level of patriotism, but I can’t help but feel like we’re lacking. They say comparison is the thief of joy, but sometimes it can be a measuring stick to show growth. The Caribbean is a melting pot of different races and ethnicities, and St Vincent and the Grenadines is no exception, we share influences from the Caribs, the British, the French and Africa.
I think one measure of patriotism is how well the rest of the Caribbean can distinguish you from the others. Without a doubt you can always identify a Jamaican, a Trinbagonian and a Barbadian, but why? How are they able to exude patriotism without even a hint of their flag?
When you observe the calendar year, besides Independence Day, Heroes Day and Carnival, we do very little to celebrate culture and heritage. As a child, Independence Day always felt special, and I anticipated it every year as the months passed. However, as an adult I almost feel like as a country we simply tolerate it. The businesses display their obligatory decorations in blue, yellow and green, then take it all down within a week. The school children wear the national colours and put on a special show with singing and dancing. Perhaps the singing and dancing contributed to the appeal as a child.
We also have the annual parade at Victoria Park, but even that has lost its appeal. It is not that I think we don’t care; I know for a fact Vincentians love their country, but there is almost a feeling of defeat, a “why bother?”.
I must mention that I went to the Creole Food display at Heritage Square and it was lovely. I really appreciated the efforts of the vendors in showcasing local foods and local goods. However, I could not help but note the irony that a place called Heritage Square is used more for drinking and debauchery, than it is for heritage displays. Perhaps drinking rum has become our heritage, it certainly seems that way with the men.
I wish this piece were enlightening, but I honestly do not know the answers to the questions I asked. I cannot figure out what we are missing that the other countries have. Perhaps we need to rethink the yearly celebrations and add more. Perhaps we should run campaigns to inspire the citizens and remind them how great their country is. Finally, perhaps the economic depression plaguing the world has particularly impacted our morale; we simply do not have the energy to celebrate anything other than Christmas and Carnival.