Independence: The finely woven silk of sentiment
THIS story starts, as many do, with a beautiful woman, and with man seeking power, affluence and recognition.
There existed a fine lady, empress perhaps, situated in the beautiful Caribbean Sea, loved by her people and desired by suitors who wished to possess her. The empress was far too beautiful and free-spirited to be possessed by anyone but her adoring people, however. So she looked among her expatriated people and said: "Send forth your finest tailors and weavers, let them forge me a gown which shall make me as free and beautiful as my own spirit and the spirit of my people."
From among her people, two mysterious tailors came to the forefront, praised by many of her suitors as having learnt from their best outfitters and modistes. Day and night these tailors worked, in clandestine sessions overseas as they copied -- poorly -- from the designs of their teachers.
The tailors told the lady that they embarked on nothing too new or novel, but the charisma and flair with which they wove and stitched engrossed the empress and her people. This gown, they said, would be woven with the marvellous silken fabric which could only be seen by the patriotic and people who loved their empress. Anyone who couldn't see this gown then, obviously, did not love their lady. As they sewed in their far-off rooms, they spread whispers that they sewed with love and the sentiment of nationalism. Obviously, there weren't any aspirations of possessing the lady.
On one sultry August day they finally presented the lady with her new gown as mirth and pride filled the streets. The philosophers and the common man glorified the new gown. How beautiful, how novel, how splendid! Whether they saw what they wanted to see, or saw what they were told to see is one of those time-worn questions that cannot be definitively answered. Perhaps they hoped that the lady would become her gown, and that their love would grow for her, thus allowing them to see the gown in all the 'splendiferousness' they were told to see? The neo-modistes collected their bounty and were lauded by the people as deserving of high power, worship even. Such charisma, such grace... look how each is like one of us, even though they are so learnt. "One a dem fada even born yah," was among the comments.
Let them possess our empress and take us into a future deserving of the beautiful gown they had woven. But which one? Both so deserving. Arguments broke out in the streets as the people separated and chose sides with either of the two tailors. They took colours onto themselves and worshipped the tailors with childlike devotion. Meanwhile, the tailors laughed to themselves in their homes enjoying the wine, bounty, and love they had earned. "Maybe they should take turns in possessing our empress and their kin shall submit themselves to us every four years for review," was the thought. Oh, but which colour to choose? Which one will fit better with the marvellous gown they had stitched? colour-coding? Or
More than half-a-century later, we still see the beautiful gown on our wailing empress, the land of wood and water -- except without the water, and who knows what beautiful furniture we'll make from the wood.
She is so wonderfully outfitted in the silk of sentiment, finely woven from the hopes and love of our suffering people. The spawn of the charismatic tailors tug on our heart strings and remind us that the gown is so beautiful as they play like children at a Westminster model of government. The Westminster model, however, is handicapped in its stone-etched inflexibility and barefaced exploitation by our colour-coded politicians.
There shouldn't be any misunderstanding here. I love my country. I love our 'tallawah-ness' and bolts of musical inspiration. I love our people. Perhaps, though, we should realise that colonial dependence has been replaced by a sick, thinly-veiled game of monopoly in which there are two players, but one pattern of bank depletion. It is a game in which anyone seeking to make a change must align himself to one of the players, thus becoming sullied by the miasma that is bipartisanship.
Perhaps I am mixing children's stories here, but we must cease to drink from the poisoned chalice of partisanship. I urge my fellow youth to reject this game. Too many times I have seen bright young men and women, seeking change, align themselves with one of the parties and in a short time start to wear either green or orange-tinted spectacles which blind them to any wrongdoing by their similarly 'spectacled' predecessors.
It is a poisoned chalice, and until the people who love their empress dearly say 'enough is Enough' and refuse to accept buffoonery and boldness simply because of colour alignment, then it will continue to be poisoned and 'independence' will remain a teary-eyed sentiment.
Let it be clear: this is not some magic fix for our variegated problems. However, it is a first step to rejecting indiscipline, political hypocrisy and corruption which allows us to accept a standard of governance far beneath what our empress deserves.
But what do I know? I am a mere 18-year-old babe in the grand scheme of things. One who has only read books and heard stories of that time. Perhaps, though, akin to Hans Christian Andersen's story, a babe is best placed to scream: The empress isn't wearing any clothes!
Yakum Fitz-Henley is a student of law and life. Comments: firstname.lastname@example.org