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Caribbean people have a common bond says London

Caribbean people have a common bond says London

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As a Caribbean people, we have many similarities, but we also have our differences; and it is because of these differences that regional integration may seem challenging, but definitely not impossible.{{more))

And this was the premise of a lecture, the second in the Girls’ High School (GHS) centenary lecture series, delivered by Shafia London, former student, national scholar, and the Executive Director at the St Vincent and the Grenadines Chamber of Commerce Inc.

The lecture entitled ‘Regional Integration – Achievable and Sustainable?’ was held at Frenches House on Thursday, June 10.

According to London, despite the many failed attempts in the past, such as the short lived West Indies Federation, we all have common characteristics that bond us as one Caribbean force.

The shot of rum and coke, the 6 sixes of Sir Garfield Sobers, the aphrodisiac powers of sea moss and conch or the bond that unites us as a Caribbean people in the Diaspora – we cry together in despair and triumph when times are good.

London gave a comprehensive look at the various aspects of Caribbean life that bring us together.

She spoke of the need for the region to integrate in order to compete globally.

London contended that the territories across the region would not be able survive the global economic climate alone.

After all, we probably occupy but a mere fraction of the economic pie.

She maintained that as a rough estimate, the region’s tourism industry only enjoyed a tiny percentage compared to other global markets.

“It is all well and good to perpetuate an inter-island competitive spirit, but this should not be one of unfriendliness,” she said.

Rather we ought to encourage healthy competition within, but compete on a global level.

“There are no real advantages of us continuing to relive the days when the separation of our islands by territorial waters served as a convenient boundary,” London opined.

She also claimed that local control was part of the psychological remnants of economic and political fragmentation left by the European powers of our islands.

West Indies Cricket has for years been bringing the region together, London pointed out.

“As Caribbean people, we groan together when West Indian cricket grovels; and jump together when it triumphs,” she said.

For years, Caribbean people have united together in sports and were once a force to be reckoned with. This according to London was a prime example of unity.

She pointed out that the region even had the ability to enact legislation during the staging of the 2007 World Cup for the free movement of persons across the region.

“So then,” London asked, “What is stopping the process of Caribbean unity from going forward?”

But perhaps the one institution that has contributed immensely to the concept of regional integration is the University of the West Indies, where for years the region’s intellectual talent has converged and relationships developed.

She ended by reiterating the point that the Caribbean islands though small and bearing little purchasing power, could be a force to be reckoned with.

“Notwithstanding all the challenges, we have had successes with bananas, with the University of the West Indies, with LIAT, with Cricket. So Caribbean Unity is yes challenging, but attainable because of those successes; and the longevity of these legacies reminds us that Caribbean unity is indeed sustainable.”

London followed up her well researched lecture, to lead a productive, but brief interactive session.

The night ended with the conferring of an achievement award to Courtnae Bailey, a 2010 graduate of the Girls’ High School.

The next lecture is scheduled to be held on July 8 where another former student, Minister of Government, Rene Baptiste will deliver a lecture on ‘The Role of Culture and Creative Arts in Society – the Vincentian Reality’.

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