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Friday, December 21, 2012

Finding Identity

I figure its best to end the year with a post and to regain some momentum for a busy 2013. Dominica continues to be an interesting mish mash of politics , personalities and superstitions.

As someone once remarked to me it is ironic that two of the most powerful influences on the people usually have no qualifications and almost no responsibility for their utterances and actions.

Politicians and Preachers.

Across the region the problem gets replicated though its magnified in certain jurisdictions and lessened in others. The pragmatism of life means most people put their heads down and just deal with daily life, but if you sit back and ponder the ridiculousness of it all, it really is 'something else'.

2012 has been a rebound year business wise personally though the economy in the Caribbean is still stagnated.

Dominica hasnt resolved what it wants to be. Is it a tourism destination ? Not yet. Dominicans have not yet considered what it is to be a service based economy. Is it an agricultural haven. No. The farmer is a dying breed and the status quo businesses are actually ushering in the death of agriculture by pushing more and more cheap imported goods on a market which values price above health and taste.

Is it a manufacturing locale ? No. The energy costs are too high and the red tape is still too thick. Ontop of that you have a serious issue with work ethic, which makes me remember John Dyson, former coach of West Indies, talking to the fact that West Indian cricketers resented being told what to do. So sometime in 2013, a serious discussion should start with understanding what the island is.

Creating managed expectations is a key part of life. Many people have decided by the age of 30 odd what they want to be. Life doesnt afford them much opportunity to keep on dithering about it. Dominica is in country terms still an infant, but that debate hasnt happened and we are a generation away from both a population and a statesman (or woman) who can take us there. In the meantime politicians and preachers will talk about changing the names of mountains and fixing the roads. Enjoy the Season.

Friday, September 28, 2012

A question of confilict

As part of the appreciation of getting older, one of the things we start to appreciate is how we all fit into a small society. For many Dominicans, the country has not changed. We live in a homogeneous country, a demographic of people who look and sound the same for a lifetime, at every level. Within that small society, it is easy to forget what really makes Dominica tick. Relationships, built from familial links, religion, and dependencies born from necessity shape a number of alliances. Friendships do not matter, and I say so earnestly as there are no friendship built dynasties or cultures in Dominica. People are not successful because they are friendly. In fact they suffer for it. A man is more likely to consult his side woman than his friend in matters of crisis. In fact, conflict has formed businesses, political parties and even churches in Dominica. Conflict is the lingua franca of the country. People ally themselves on who they dislike and not who they admire. Trying to start a discussion on the mutual admiration of someone is almost a lost cause in our society. But you can get appreciation and even find some love from mutual dislike. Within that context whenever someone queries the future of Dominica, it is relatively easy to pinpoint the potential. When you assess that from top to bottom there is a healthy dislike inherent to the way people deal with each other, masked with fake smiles, constant hugging and now facebook friending, then you start to understand the challenge. You can only unite the country through a common enemy and right now, Dominicans do not have one. Maybe I can play that role by stating some uncomfortable truths. No political party in the history of Dominica has engendered economic policy. You cannot differentiate economic policy differences between the Dame, Edision James and the current government. So what we are engaged in for the last 50 years of political life is a pissing contest in popularity. So what is the future of Dominica ? Hurricane David gave us a glimpse. When people were uniformly connected by the fact that we all had no roofs, no water and no electricity, people were genuinely concerned about each other and the collective responsibility for what should happen next actually existed. It was brief, but it was there. However we cannot generate this kind of scenario (neither would we want to). We have to recognise that a meritocracy is alien to our societies. The masses would revolt if they were not rewarded for their allegiances. In fact a meritocracy would literally bring down a government, funny to say. I suggest we invite more and more middle class qualified Haitians to be part of our administrative class. Nothing like a black, well educated foreigner to unite the country into working harder to repel the foreign hordes. If you think thats just hype, I will say, just watch.