National pride

Nationhood should be synonymous with national pride.  Last year, a columnist writing in an issue of the Barbados Advocate questioned the extent to which Barbadians still possessed their famed national pride, for he said, that among things, Barbados had become a country where people were mindlessly urinating in the alleys of Bridgetown, where obscene language had become too prevalent, where noise like that which had become popular in the mini buses were becoming a serious public nuisance, and where indiscriminate dumping had become a norm.

If we accept that nationhood is synonymous to national pride, we may want to consider the extent to which similar things have become the norm here in Grenada and therefore how much national pride we can boast of having and therefore to what extent we are a nation.

It is said that a country does not become a nation in just one day, a fact we should recognise, to be able to accept that we did not necessarily become a nation when the British government handed Sir Eric Gairy an independence constitution on January 7, 1974.

If we conclude that we are not sufficiently imbued with national pride, then as we celebrated the 42nd anniversary of independence, we should have considered even debated publicly, what is necessary to instill in us national pride, for national pride is due substantially to our attitude to education and how we are being educated.

There is a saying that education is for the edification of people. To my mind, while many of us pay lip service to the idea of being educated or educating others, the idea that generally education is for our edification, and not merely, a preparation for a job is not being sufficiently instilled in our young people, when this should be one of the main themes of the era in which we are living, if we are to create nationals of high self-esteem, who value human life and take pride in our cultural heritage and diversity.

If the theme that education is for edification has not yet become common among us, it may be because we are not yet ready to be edified.

In 1948, at the GBSS speech night, the headmaster, Mr. R.S Jordan, a Barbadian, who previously to this was a captain of the West Indies cricket team, observed that one of the aims of Grenada educators should be to work to recreate Grenadians.

During his speech he further observed that when boys entered the GBSS what they came to gain was not merely a certificate, such that examinations were allowed to dominate the curriculum and become an end and rather than a means, but an all-round development of moral character, intelligence and the social virtues.

These are words that are still very relevant for us today, as they advocate development of pride in our young people, which could later be translated into positive national pride.

Our national pride is also dependent on us valuing and respecting truth, which is also linked to the educational process. Truth was vital for our redemption from slavery, so we should never adopt a cynical attitude towards it.

One truth was indispensable for our emancipation, was the truth that emerged over time, that Africans were of worth and as human and intelligent as the people who had enslaved them.

Truth was also important for our attainment of independence. Perhaps the most important truth for this was the truth that we were capable of governing ourselves.  For years before, men like our own T.A. Marryshow, and the Trinidadians Eric Williams and C.L.R. James had championed the case for West Indian self-government. And of course, their faith in us was not misplaced.

Since independence, we have had leaders in the region, who generally have governed their countries well, although we are often severely hampered by our lack of financial resources.

For instance, the British government gave Grenada an independence gift of only EC$1 million (222,000 pounds), at a time when they were building university libraries costing over five million pounds (EC$25 million).

Derek Walcott, a Nobel Prize winner for Literature, who also did a stint of teaching at the GBSS refers to such a thing as the “cunning bitterness of the rich”, who gave us independence constitutions but very little money to go with them.

When looking at things vital for creating national pride we should never forget achievements, so that we can become committed to attain global standards in sports, education, music and the arts, science and technology and leadership.

Indeed, one of the main themes of the times we are living in should involve this idea of achievements for building national pride and self-esteem.

Self-esteem is always vital for achievement, for it imbues people with the faith that everything is attainable.

Devonson LaMothe

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