Recently in Barbados, in delivering the annual Errol Barrow lecture, Dr. Frank Alleyne, a top Barbadian economist, stressed the importance of small Caribbean states, developing what he referred to as an intelligent population, for the development of self-sufficient economies.
In saying this, Dr. Alleyne was quick to point out what he meant by an intelligent population was not being merely certificated, but having the ability to analyse issues, which to my mind would include the willingness to do self analysis and be self-critical.
He lamented that our economies were still too structurally dependent on those of the developed world, such that what happened in the developed world affected us, often adversely.
Dr. Alleyne was mindful of the fact that this structural dependence was due in part to the fact that we were producing less than the 1950s and 1960s. He believed that we were less structually dependent then because of the uncommon common sense of our fore-parents who worked harder, and who created indigenous institutions such as the Post Office Savings Bank.
Dr. Alleyne lamented the fact that in Barbados at the moment, few of the Commercial banks were Barbadian. Dr. Alleyne’s road map for the development of small Caribbean states then, would include an “intelligent population”, uncommon common sense, greater productivity and the creation of indigenous financial institutions.
Dr. Alleyne, not being a politician, could tell us things like these, which we hardly hear from our politicians. They say politics is war by other means, and in their partisan wars, the greatest weapons of our politicians are often lies, pretensions and play-acting, which they impose on us, often with the help of their friends and supporters in the media.
It is said that generally in the world, many people see lying as the key to gain popularity and influence with, and power over others. So they regard telling the truth as something very dangerous. Tell the truth they say and you are a lost man. For instance, you won’t be able to win elections this way.
But lying is not being fair and just to others. Lying is a way to cheat others mentally and otherwise. Lying is key to promoting and maintaining injustice. And lying is not what we tell others, but also what we choose to conceal from them. In other words, we can perpetrate the most dangerous falsehoods by the sin of omission.
Lying is a way of placing obstacles in people’s way, so that they are unable to come to terms with themselves, their poverty, their priorities, their oppression and exploitation.
Lying often defines a relationship in which the powerful diminishes the potential of the weak, impose on them a low self-awareness, for instance, and deconstruct their belonging identity. Lies are often couched in terms that are sensational in order to mask the truth.
And this sensationalism, like our present carnival-style election campaigns, discourages meditation and deliberation. Often, if we repeat the same lie often enough, we begin to believe that it is the truth. Our pretensions or play-acting is lying by other means.
There are many people who would support the view that in Grenada, national elections, like carnival should be held every year. And so would our politicians. Many of them talk about developing our human resource, but most of them seem more interested in perpetuating an “electocracy”, rather than in creating a truly mature democratic society.
Few of them seem to know the extent to which education is vital for this. They seem not to know also, that not only must we possess an “intelligent” population in order to sustain democracy, but that for people like us with an enslaved and colonised past, our education system must be geared for change as well as to edify and dignify us.
Mr. Tillman Thomas, serious demands that our political leaders be accountable in government, can come only when we, by and large, possess a population which can analyse issues, and which is capable of understanding who really possess political power.
And in the last thirty years or so I cannot remember hearing you say or do anything to suggest, that you differ from those who feel uncomfortable with the idea of educating the man in the street, and so would prefer to work with them just how they are.
Mr. Thomas, what percentage of Grenadians who voted for the New National Party and the National Democratic Congress in February, really understand what is meant by or is interested in the accountability of our politicians?
In the fullness of time, people reap what they sow. And he, who sows a little, reaps a little and he, who sows the wind, reaps the whirlwind.
Devonson La Mothe