10 Sep Why Caribbean people should stop celebrating Independence Day
Every year Caribbean countries celebrate Independence Day. It’s a day citizens are given a holiday to rejoice that we as a people have broken free from the stranglehold of the British rule.
According to the historical accounts I’ve read, apart from the societal change that saw Caribbean people caring less for their imperial rulers, the islands had largely ceased to be profitable to the colonial owners, hence they ‘allowed’ the countries to win their Independence. The old ways that allowed them to reap huge profits from them, were being torn apart by change. The colonial owners were quite happy to let their responsibility go.
Each year I see the celebratory messages, the parades, the national decorations being hung from buildings all across the country.
And I wonder to myself, ``Exactly what are we celebrating?``
We have copied the British:
- Government system and style
- Legal system, laws and courts (Some of us have more faith in the Privy Council than God)
- Driving habits (we might be a bit worse actually)
- Education systems (it is stifling our way of thinking and our youth)
- Healthcare system
- Dress and language
Our founding Caribbean fathers wanted to dispense with the British rule then copied all of the systems from the Empire and proceeded to rule like them. One generation on, we are less independent than before. We are still trying to copy them, only we are doing it poorly.
We are a society that lacks independent and original thinkers.
We are a group of countries who have been taught not to think and create for ourselves.
In fact, we crucify independent and original thinkers every chance we get. Go ahead, ask anyone who has tried to do anything outside of the status quo. Unless, you are from a rich family where you really don’t need the buy-in from others to push through your idea, introducing an original idea into the Caribbean is really hard.
Thinking independently doesn’t mean starting a radical group or becoming disruptive. It means becoming informed and educated in your subject matter and making a clear, rational decision on your own without feeling pressured to conform to a norm.
The best definition I’ve come across for original thinkers is TED Speaker Adam Grant (video seen below):
Originals are nonconformists, people who not only have new ideas but take action to champion them. They are people who stand out and speak up. Originals drive creativity and change in the world.
We in the Caribbean certainly lack these 2 groups of people.
Please spare me the examples of Caribbean people who are excelling and are champions in developed countries. They are not a product of the Caribbean. They are a product of the system which has allowed them to be outstanding.
We are not an independent people. We are a bunch of copycats bullshitting our way through life, hoping that we aren’t found out.
I wonder if my generation will be one to rise up and be the one to create systems and a way of life that really suits the Caribbean people and facilitates us to reach our highest potential. Sometimes I think we are quite happy just being cogs in a wheel getting through life only focused on going from one party to the next. Sometimes, I think that we get it. We understand the importance of creating a way of life that is definitely our own.
I try not to lose faith. I can’t.
But as I think and question, “How do original and independent thinkers in the Caribbean thrive when we are still dominated by people who have not been taught to think for themselves?”
I shudder. I may get sad, but never, never can I lose faith.