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Our karaoke independence

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Dr. Richard A. B. Cox 09.NOV.07

Independent SVG was an infant of 5 when I left these shores for university. But even then I discerned that our sovereignty was more apparent than real. I returned in the 90s to find the NCB bankrolling international conmen, foreign tugs harassing the people of Canouan, foreign fraudsters housed in offshore banks were running the country, and Mitchellonomics, while reading the obituary of bananas, promoting tourists as our saviour. “Splendid” IMF report cards praised our “economic prudence” but remained mute on our boiling-point levels of unemployment, Ganja having become the cash crop, 25% of Vincentians living in indigent poverty and Kingstown decaying into a solid waste site.{{more}}

By the new millennium, I was back on the road, Ralph became sheriff and Ottley Hall was under the accountant’s microscope. I sang hosannas hoping the foreign siege would be lifted. Alas my hallelujahs were premature for Buccament Bay and parts of Bequia are effectively new foreign enclaves, while the Tobago Cays acquisition of this status is temporarily delayed, thanks to “terrorists”: Junnie Bacchus et al. Bewildered, I am forced to accept that we have permanently abandoned our solemn pledge given in the first stanza of the national anthem; due to a profound loss of faith in self. And, faith in self is absolutely necessary for true independence as our anthem reminds in its beautiful refrain.

This all-encompassing and crippling lack of belief in self is seen in all aspects of Caribbean life. Take our ethics and morals: we have abandoned tried and tested values, preferring Euro-American decadence. So some, renaming crime human rights, and with the encouragement and support of white people and foreign money, passionately defend murderers and indisciplined students. Small wonder that AIDS and crime are strangling the Caribbean to death and our response is more BET and importing police from England.

The CCJ, fundamental to the CSME remains in labour for we dare not cut our umbilical cord to the Privy Council; yo’ crazy! What do black people know about dispensing justice? The CSME itself was born not of appreciation for our historical, cultural and geographical oneness as tabled by George Beckford, Lloyd Best, Clive Thomas, and Willy Demas, inter alia. No, it’s a life raft that is suddenly necessary as we – always unwelcome, merely tolerated stowaways – are now forced off the sugar, rice and banana boats. And, with the World Bank, IMF (for Washington is our economic brain) and the EU lined up against us, the region is virtually cornered. Yet St. Lucia refuses to embrace LIAT but happily goes to bed with a foreign billionaire, for white and foreign are always better. From SVG to Barbados to St. Kitts, our patrimony is being sold to foreigners at the peril of our children’s future. The belief is that with white foreigners naturally comes prosperity.

In sports, the situation is no different. Football can only be properly learned from foreign experts; but here cricket takes the cake. Our team is now everybody’s “market goat”, and although we produced from Sobers to Richards, our answer to this perpetual humiliation is again foreign; this time Australia. Indeed the Caribbean male is all but lost; boys constantly underperform; they commit significantly more crimes than girls, UWI is 70% female, but yet the feminist agenda imported from foreign holds sway. Yes, white foreigners have determined that our boys and young men should perish and we have no problem with that.

Nowhere are we more faithless than in the field of intellect. In SVG, we had an agriculture experimental station where the world came to learn. Not anymore. All expertise must now be foreign, and better yet if white. Worse still are those who went north and came back with their high-priced neo-liberal brainwash, and, unaware of their lack of reasoning power, boisterously demand that we accept homosexuality, band the death penalty, campaign against violence only if it’s practiced against women, and accept mediocrity from our students. These perfectly trained ventriloquists are the sworn disciples of this most dangerous form of imperialism aimed at convincing our people that we have no grey matter.

And there are the “most conscious”, demanding that we recognise that we are Africans and look to the past and an imaginary African greatness for hope. They of course are responding to those with their “Arrival Day and Bangladeshi cricket team, as a good doctor puts it; as well as to those who go to Jericho to prove the have half a bottle cork of white European blood. Regardless, they are all dancing and singing to a narrow, divisive, irretrievable past, rather than embracing the beautiful, all-covering rainbow of our future. This is particularly dangerous Karaoke, for all harmony is deliberately destroyed. Lest there be any misunderstandings, I am not here preaching that history has no place, but the past must serve as a platform for the future and not bridle or impede it.

I could go on: for example Jamaicans need a visa to visit their head of state. What humiliation! But it is swallowed, for she is white and foreign. This is a living example that we have accepted our intellectual “pigmyism” and are convinced of our inability to manage our affairs. Even Rosie Douglas of honoured and blessed memory felt that Dominica’s survival depended on it being hitched to the EU. And, an apparently fiercely independent and super bright Ralph has commissioned Taiwan to design our development path. But guess what? If we are annoyed with Ralph and decide to fire him (yes, that is our right for he is in our employ), Arhnim is waiting in the wings with his State Department, IMF and World Bank prescriptions. Yes, it’s Karaoke left or right; we will always be singing and dancing to the tunes of others’. But for whatever comfort it might bring, we are not alone; like AIDS and crime, karaoke independence has infected the entire Caribbean.

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