You see, even though she is independent, she is still very young; a young democracy is what they call her. She doesn’t look her age though. She looks old, worn out, bruised and battered from the many wars that she has fought. She removes several bands from around her waist, and breathes an agonizing sigh, then wail, “I feel like I going crazy! Lord, I can’t ban me belly and bawl no more. Lord, I can’t take it no more.”
Like a beautiful young woman once filled with immense hope, dreams and promise; like a bright eyed young woman who has now lost her way; feeling desolate and sinking into an abyss, she wails, “Look at all this calumny.”
She sobbed, “Reading the headlines one would think that I am situated in the Middle East or Africa, and not in this beautiful turquoise Caribbean water. I had hoped it would have all been a passing tide, but never in all my years did I think it would come to THIS! Allegations of threats made against elected officials and members of parliament, a parliament divided, vote of no confidence requests, constant calls for fresh elections, challenges in the courts, claims of electoral impropriety, political tribalism, and now what some are calling a very jokey excuse for a democracy.
She throws her hands in the air, then hangs her head, and belts out the lines from Sugar Aloes’ song the End of Days, “This was never meant to be, man’s supposed to dwell in harmony… but because of selfishness.”
Her voice breaks, “Where is the harmony in all this…shouldn’t democracy result in harmony …my head is spinning… since this whole thing start everything is democracy, democracy, democracy… I never hear this word used so much so… we doing it in the name of democracy…in a democratic country this and that…but wait there… who is this democracy for…who… who this democracy belong to…the demos is not those who sit in parliament, it seems like they got this whole thing wrong… they are the servants, but the second they are elected all that is forgotten…they become the served…who they looking after this democracy for, is what I am asking…is so people behave in a democracy…this is what got me going on so…Mother Earth I feel like I losing it…because when I became independent I know that this was never meant to be…This is not how democracy is supposed to be…I telling you this is not how a democracy suppose to be…where is the real interest of the ‘demos’, that is the people in all of this…what is it that the people of St. Kitts and Nevis really want…what is it that the people think is best for me… do they want a never-ending state of political turmoil and uncertainty or do they want peace and tranquility…cheese and bread man, are you telling me now I worse off than Baghdad , Tehran, or Tripoli…”
She tries to compose herself, and turns to Mother Earth and say, “You see, I was supposed to be a land where peace abounds. I was the Mother Colony of the West Indies. I hold a UNESCO World Heritage site, the Brimstone Hill Fortress. I was the land of sugar, verdant, fertile, and sweet; now look at me, wrought with political strife and instability. Who would have ever thought it? Who could honestly tell me that this was how it was supposed to be. I am telling you, this was never meant to be…”
She asks, “How can I rightfully hold my head high in the international community? How can I look across the waters at my brothers and sisters and smile as if nothing is wrong? There are those who would encourage me and say sister you are not alone, just take a look at Grenada, they are going through the same thing as you now. I shake my head. They wouldn’t understand. I have set high standards for myself as a nation. I want to be the best democracy that there can be, second to none, making other nations green with envy, because when I hold elections they are always fair and free. I want to boast a nation calumny free. Wishful thinking isn’t it? This was never meant to be, this is what I keep telling myself. This was never meant to be for I was meant to be a land of beauty, prosperity and a land of tranquility!”
She drops to her knees, I suppose the pain and burden too heavy to bear, and says, “It has not been easy. It has not been easy. These past few years have not been easy. I must admit that with the closure of the Sugar Industry I was scared because there was so much economic uncertainty, and I had over forty thousand dependent on me, but I am a woman of great faith, and knew that I would get back on my feet. Just when I started getting my bearings, I got another “What-tap!” Crime and lawlessness plagued me for years. Report after report, headline after headline, and crime after crime. What else could I do but just “ban me belly and bawl? These were indeed very arduous times. Mother Earth, imagine I just got a little ease, now THIS! Is there no rest for the weary? This is not how I envisioned my life to be. Is this what comes with independence and sovereignty? Don’t tell me this, I refuse to believe it. This was never meant to be, I envisioned the sweetness of democracy. I envisioned a St. Kitts and Nevis in harmony.”
In a drunken stupor she says, “They keep saying, country above self, country above self, where in all of this is country above self, please tell me… where in all of this muck is country above self’? Where is it? I am asking you, where is it? Look me here I am drowning. Is anybody coming to my aid? Of course not, they busy throwing upper cuts and all kinds of political jabs, and each blow is me taking them. No; not a soul coming to rescue the perishing, but yet it is continuous political ping pong, and all I am hearing is country above self…stop say it and show me it! Put my interest first! Look me here! Do you see me? What about me? Is all this nonsense beneficial to me? Search your heart and soul and answer this question seriously, because I can’t take this anymore and this whole thing sending me ‘pulk’ crazy!”
Face forlorn she says, “Mother Earth I shudder to think of my future as a nation. It looks so bleak from where I am sitting. It does not look promising at all. Political tensions are rising. What will my story be? How will the history books tell it? Will I be reduced to nothing but ashes and rubble, in order to preserve democracy? What would it take for me to restore political stability to my once pristine shores? With all this infighting within parliament, political disunion within the ruling party, with all of this incendiary language, and allegations of threats, I can’t help but wonder; will there be civil unrest? Will it be a repeat of 1967 or 1993? I shudder with fear because if things don’t cool off we are heading straight back there. Do we really want to go back there? Will I be led down the same path that Grenada did in 1983? Don’t tell me not to go there, because clearly it seems like this is where I am heading.”
Like an infant, St. Kitts and Nevis cradles herself once more in Mother Earth’s lap, now shivering and voice quivering, “Mother Earth, I am terrified. I hate to say it but I am so afraid that if we are not careful history is going to repeat itself. Have we not learned anything from international, regional, and even our own history? The flames are being fanned, and all the international community is hearing is that St. Kitts and Nevis has a leader who is being compared to the likes of Saddam, Kaddafi, Papa Doc, and Mubarak, don’t you see the calumny that is about to befall me? Next thing you know US boots on the ground, coming in to liberate we because we have failed in our attempt at a democracy. Grenada was “Operation Urgent Fury,” I can’t help but wonder what the US will call this one. Mother Earth you may think I crazy but it look like is right there we heading, just take a look back in history. You think it aint one night I wake up in cold, cold sweat, frighten, hoping that all this nonsense would done. I tired ask, if history aint teach them nothing. I sit down sometimes and say to myself… ‘Girl St. Kitts and Nevis, history aint teach them nothing no. It aint come so…’ I keep saying, ‘Lord please come to a resolve quick. Hasten this thing; please come to some resolve man. I am begging. This whole thing has no taste. This doesn’t need any bottle and stone. This don’t need no threats, please for the love of Moses settle this thing quick.”
St. Kitts and Nevis looks off in the distance, and asks, “Have I now become the English speaking equivalent of Haiti? Why is there always the appearance of political unrest and instability in my dear country? When would the term ‘free and fair elections’ ever apply to me? Why am I constantly in the courts challenging the results of elections? Is this the new normal? Is this the meaning of democracy? Will there ever be a ‘true will of the people?’ These are the questions that I have been asking myself. How much more? How much more? How will all this play out? How and when will it end? This was never meant to be…I telling you that this was never meant to be…I envisioned a country in harmony…”
As the world celebrated Christmas or prepared for the coming of the New Year, as Kittitians and Nevisians at home and abroad anticipated coming home for the Carnival festivities or to visit relatives, a dark cloud of political instability hung over our dear nation. This dark cloud has been looming, for years now, it is a dark cloud that we only wished would pass with time, but it hasn’t, and now our nation is embroiled once more in the throes of a political battle, and I can’t help but wonder if ALL of the actors are acting based on the true will of the people or based on their own interest. I say this because I have yet to see the electorate march in the streets for what they really want. And when I say this, I don’t mean an electorate led by a political party, but a true representation of the electorate who are nationalists, not motivated by the political machinery but rather an electorate who wants what is best for the nation of St. Kitts and Nevis. I have yet to see our streets flooded not with bottles or stones, or with people wearing red, yellow, blue or green, but rather with citizens who are willing to demand that the people that they elected to serve them are acting or representing their best interest and this hurts.
Citizens of St. Kitts and Nevis are we really a democracy, or are we a democracy just in name? Citizens of St. Kitts and Nevis have we relinquished all of our power to those who we have elected to serve? These are questions that I have had to ask myself recently. Do we really know what our rights are as citizens? Citizens, do we really know that the power lies with us, and not with those who we have elected to serve? I think that this concept continuously eludes us. I can’t say it enough; the country does not belong to the elected officials. We elected them to serve, and from where I am sitting I am witnessing a game of political football with our elected leaders as the players and we the willing spectators, just grumbling and arguing back and forth. It has become like a gladiator sport, savage brutal, and we eagerly sit in the arena just waiting for our man to go straight for the jugular.
Democracy is not a spectator sport. Democracy is not a word that our parliamentarians should use as a mere political tool to win our favour, but rather democracy is the power that lies in the people. It is the people who decide how and by whom they should be governed. This nonsense has gone on way too long, and it needs to stop. Can we really afford this as a nation? The cost of continuing this nonsense is way too high. The world is watching. Sugar is no more, and we are heavily dependent on tourism and the financial services sector. Tourists won’t want to travel to a politically unstable country. Investors would not give us a second glance. What would become of our dear nation? We are still considered a young democracy by all accounts. Are we proving to the world that we are incapable of governing ourselves? I refuse to accept that there is no resolve.
People of St. Kitts and Nevis, speak up, what do you really want? This is the question. What do you wish to see? Arrow said it best. This country is yours all yours. It is not theirs, so why have you as a people, as a citizenry relinquished your power? This isn’t about PAM, Labour, NRP, or CCM anymore, our country, and our future is in jeopardy. What are you going do? Again, I ask what do you wish to see for the nation of St. Kitts and Nevis, because your country is crying, “This Was Never Meant to Be!”