We alone can free ourselves!

It occurs to me that what I am about to write will reach readers a day late, our normal publication day having coincided this time around with Emancipation Day, yet another national holiday when, like the rest of the private and public sectors, the island’s newsvendors will take the day off. Never mind, better a day late than never.
It’s a safe bet that most Saint Lucians would have taken the opportunity to repeat what we normally do when we’re not expected at work: party with friends at the beach, not necessarily venturing into the water when we’re loaded down with the spirit of Saint Lucia, driving at insane speeds to nowhere in particular, or catching up on lost sleep. Indisputably, a week of carnival jump-ups can take a serious toll on our energies.
More than likely a government minister will have delivered the usual pre-recorded address via the electronic media.  Alas, this time around I’m afraid I missed it. But then it would be most unusual if such speech contained anything new and inspirational, despite our great need of hope in these hopeless times. For years and years, local prime ministers or their peacocking stand-ins have on Emancipation Day touchingly recalled the unspeakable atrocities our African forebears suffered at the hands of slave traders. A horrific story to be sure. Alas, it is most unlikely that the official address would have contained even a subtle reminder that the enslavement of Africans by their hundreds of thousands was, one way or another, aided and abetted by not only kings, presidents and leading agents of God but also by the African people themselves.
Of course, the last-mentioned truth will not make me new friends. It can’t be easy acknowledging one’s forebears had sold out their own in the interest of personal reward or self-preservation. But then I suspect the main reason my reminder will prove upsetting to some of the more Afro-centric among us centers on the fact that we continue, one way or another, to sell out one another.
How? Well, what do you call it when we encourage politicians to pull the wool over the eyes of our less informed, uneducated neighbors? What do you call it when we convince our more naïve brethren that certain initiatives are in their best interest when we know only too well the opposite is true?
What do you call it when for personal gain we lie down with lying politicians instead of speaking out on the side of truth? Is it not also selling out our country when in the best interests of our favorite political party—and in our own selfish interest—we keep our eyes and our mouths and our minds shut when we should be screaming bloody murder in the national interest? Is this not equal to the cowardly Africans permitting the slave trader to take his neighbor’s young sons and daughters into the holds of his stinking slave ship?
Then there’s the other kind of enslavement associated with drug abuse. How can a man or woman speak of national pride when he can bring himself to sell drugs—whether in powder or liquid form—to young children? Small wonder that in some parts of the world the penalty for drug trafficking is death, for surely creating a nation of drug addicts resides close to mass murder.
Perhaps the worst slavery is that which we impose on ourselves when we doubt our potential. True, we may by virtue of our size and economic status be denied opportunities afforded residents of the so-called rich territories. But then, just as money can’t buy you love so it cannot buy you character and belief in self. Proof of that resides in such as Usain Bolt and Darren Sammy, not to mention our own current representatives at the London Olympics. In all events, we have arrived at the stage where sports scholarships can deliver the best America and elsewhere have to offer in terms of opportunity. We need only want them badly enough to do what it takes to get them.
Yes, so this short message may be too late for Emancipation Day. But that is not to say it is abruptly inappropriate—not when slavery in one form another continues to plague our daily lives.

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