August 31, 2002
By Bukka Rennie
This IS our 40th anniversary of Independence and we are yet to begin to think differently and divergently. The shackles on our minds are still intact.
Williams, our founding father, told us on this day back in 1962 that we were in fact a "society" but not yet a "nation". And we were left to contemplate on what it takes to make a society, any society, a nation.
Was the key to being a nation the coming to the fore of responsible self-government that would knock desperate, disparate, hostile groups thrown together by acts of fate into a cohesive whole with a mandated mission for modern development?
Could there be nationhood without proper rites of passage for manhood and womanhood? Could there be a discussion of the one without an unravelling of the other?
Frantz Fanon exposed for us "the pitfalls of such national consciousness" confined as it were to a mere sense of geography and external trappings - like flag and anthem and borrowed Constitution - but devoid of genuine human transformation. The process must start and end with people.
The last time "Independence" was discussed in this space, Tom Paine was quoted as having advocated: "Man did not enter into society to become worse than he was before, nor to have fewer rights than he had before, but to have those rights better secured. His natural rights are the foundation of all his civil rights.
"He therefore deposits his rights in the common stock of society, of which he is part, in preference and in addition to his own. Society grants him nothing. Every man is proprietor in society, and draws on the capital as a matter of right.
"That which is called government, or rather that which we ought to conceive government to be, is no more than some common centre, in which all the parts of society unite."
In other words, how much government is required is dependent on how much we are truly men and women, and how much we cease to be desperate and disparate isolated elements.
The greatest and most just laws are the laws of nature and, if we can see our way to live by these natural laws, dictated by the fact that we are social animals, the less government will have to act as an imposition and the more it will function as a co-ordinator of our affairs beholden to no one group or person but to the community as a whole.
Independence is not only about independence from foreign controllers, but more so freedom from control from any body or group or structure above and beyond the people united in their communities of bonded interests.
It is about freedom from individual mavericks and touts. It is about freedom to think with a collective focus and purpose. We have to debunk the frontier town mentality, the every-man-for-himself madness, the grab and the hustle.
However, that is exactly how we were fashioned to think and behave by our colonial nuturerers. And this has been reinforced objectively by the present underlying moral decay of the present international capitalist system.
As Rev Ernle Gordon in his Emancipation piece warned: "The real fear is the Western way of life is in danger of not being able to sustain a certain standard of living perpetually and the World Economic Order has rejected the moral basis for human development."
And he went on to suggest even that we have bought into a concept of "a Jesus who agrees with the market economy and operates like an entertainer and Hollywood star." as portrayed by American televangelists. How independent can we ever be with such borrowed thinking processes as well as borrowed spirituality?
We are yet to become our own centre; that is why we cannot even now, after 40 years, muster the courage and confidence to tear up the borrowed Constitution nor hammer out a coherent economic policy with a home market as the raison d'etre.
One felt hopeless when recently at a South Chamber luncheon, local business executives applauded a British energy expert, Peter Roberts of Synetix Methanol, who came to tell this nation we should not yet go the way of "gas-to-liquids" but should wait until 2008 or 2010 when these technologies are better developed in the Metropoles and we can then more appreciate a foreign investor's point of view and options in regard to such a project.
We say to hell with waiting; jump into the fray now and be part of the process of developing technologies relevant to our own cause. Because it is then and only then foreigners will "appreciate our point of view and our options."