Many citizens of the independent nation of St. Kitts and Nevis bore well-founded skepticism that the collaboration between longtime political adversaries would be a success.
Not long after its official launch, Team Unity was branded a political “concoction” likely to implode. This unprecedented tripartite collaboration proved to be the 21st century phenomenon that citizens would flock to in droves with heightened hopes for healing a divided nation. Indeed, out of doubt, hope for a brighter federation was born.
It is in the web of division that Team Unity found its voice, sparked by ordinary people willing to try a fresh, new alternative to governance. Everyday people whose pleas would otherwise have fallen on deaf ears became the real architects of the concept called Team Unity and the much touted paradigm shift.
Thomas Kuhn, an American physicist, historian, and philosopher of science defines a paradigm shift as “a change from one way of thinking to another. It’s a revolution, a transformation; a type of metamorphosis that does not just happen, but rather, is driven by agents of change.” The names of the change agents in our federation are too numerous to mention, but their relevance to such an historic cause will never be forgotten.
For months prior to his illness, educator and social commentator George Washington Archibald sounded the clarion call for Dr. Timothy Harris and Sam Condor to cross the floor and sever ties with then Prime Minister Dr. Denzil Douglas. Not long after the 2010 general elections, rumors ran rife about the internal strife of the Dr. Denzil Douglas led St. Kitts and Nevis Labour Party. Those who were advocates for change spoke out vehemently in favor of a new way forward. Washy’s efforts, in collaboration with former Ministers of Government Dwyer Astaphan, Richard Caines and the men and women of Operation Rescue, proved to be powerful. They took their message to the streets, the airwaves and social media. Slowly, their call for parliamentarians of the then opposition to unite resonated with listeners.
By September of 2013, citizens converged by the thousands on Greenlands Park in the capital city of Basseterre to witness the historic launch of what has now become a 21st century political phenomenon called Team Unity. The culture of divisiveness and tribalism that had become heavily entrenched in the communities throughout the length and breadth of the federation was one of the major indicators of a desperate need for a paradigm shift.
Politics has become grossly tribal for some citizens of the twin island nation. Many have vested their “all” in politics and the politicians who lead have become the fixation on which lives are hinged. Hundreds hailed Dr. Denzil Douglas as their “god”, convinced there was no other leader in the over 80 year old St. Kitts and Nevis Labour Party who could move the country forward. In fact, many who lauded the status quo in the federation of St. Kitts and Nevis before February 16, 2015 had difficulty accepting that after almost twenty years in power, the need for a change in leadership was fundamental.
Under a Team Unity government, change has come. Part of this historical change requires a shift in attitudes and a renewed approach to healing and restoring faith in fairness and good governance, irrespective of one’s proclaimed political allegiance. Following what many regard as one of the most keenly contested elections in recent history, the culture of entitlement and love of self that has dominated our society will require time to become transformed into communities of love, respect, hard work and civic pride.
Time and again, political pundits have spoken about the need to reset the political clock. It is incumbent upon the new Team Unity Government not to miss the mark as far as its role in achieving this goal. While people do not expect a perfect government, they do expect a shift away from the divisiveness that has come to define us. It will take time and commitment but it can happen.
The culture of blind allegiance to political parties may well meet its demise under this Team Unity phenomenon. With the interests of our Nevisian counterparts at stake, the “Labour for Life and Pam Til’ I Die” culture will also shift as the collaboration of three parties whose vow is to country will be under the people’s microscope. In the interest of the entire nation, our new government will be forced to use an entirely different yardstick in governance. This is the hallmark of the paradigm shift that Team Unity will engender.
Team Unity carries the weight of the hopes and dreams of a people who dared to say yes to a paradigm shift and no to a self-proclaimed “boss” and his minions who lost their way.