Submitted by William Skinner
Since the abolition of slavery, the Caribbean region has been heading toward a date with destiny. Many of us have hailed events as defining moments. In most cases those moments lingered a while and then faded into historical reference. The abolition of slavery was a significant moment for our physical being but the scars of mental slavery still shackle us to a belief that we have reached the apex of our civilization.
The rise of the working class in the 1930s and onward to individual state independence, would have further cemented that we had arrived at a stage of development that was almost miraculous. It is a remarkable feat, that we went from slavery to independence in a historically short time. We should therefore be forgiven if we thought: The Strife Is O’er, The Battle Won.”
We were skilful with our limited resources and those countries within the region with more bountiful resources than others, were generous in their assistance toward their often-struggling brothers and sisters. We even forged ahead with regional unity and gave birth to the regional movement known as CARICOM. Outside of the occasional family squabble, the Caribbean has enjoyed longer periods of regional unity than we thought possible. Daily we try our best to develop our collective communities but the realities of individual countries, often forced to act on their own rather than a unified force, remain a monumental challenge.
The date with destiny finally arrived via a vicious carrier or messenger, we now know as COVID-19. The abolition of slavery; rise of the working class; independence, hurricanes and of course the glorious days of dominating the world of cricket, now seem to be fading occurrences as we grapple with the new norm. The COVID-19 has revealed that we have been meticulously unprepared for the date with destiny. AS the new norm descends upon us, there is wide spread panic and we are now bombarded by often weak and visionless speeches by leaders, who in many instances have abandoned common sense. We built our future on sun seekers and international treaties. We are treated like school children being forced to pass tests and grades that often have little or nothing to do with our cultural, social, or economic realities.
In a rather perverse way, we actually attached ourselves to the saying: “Why buy a cow when you can get milk free.” We now face the brutal reality that there is no free milk and we really have no unlimited access to cows we don’t own. Its time to buy our own cows and produce our own milk. It’s time to own the Caribbean farm and take it off the auction block.
As my friend’s grandmother asked him, when he was going through a rough period in his new environment of the USA and was contemplating a return to the island: “Did you come for the improvement or the exchange?”
Our date with destiny has arrived and no iron bird our floating hotel will save us from this brutal reality.