Grant relief to the people and establish a bold mission to remodel Dominica, a quest which must be driven by a united purpose sparked from individual desires; this is the equation for establishing the agenda for a new Dominica.
This article is being presented at a time, eleven days in the aftermath of hurricane Maria, when all indications are that the authorities on Dominica face the daunting task of rebuilding from the virtual rubble which has been left behind following Maria’s ferocious winds and torrential rains on September 18 – 19, 2017.
Haunted by the images of total carnage and reports of several deaths and many more citizens unaccounted for, and compounded with the fact that hundreds of individuals have steadily been fleeing the island on a one-way mission with hundreds more attempting to do the same, I was moved to write. I have no answers as to where we go from here but I have some thoughts on a possible first step. My ideas are offered with the modesty which is demanded at the moment.
All I have to share at this hour are my thought and desires for my native land. Knowing that no one person will ever be able to even suggest the way forward, this essay only ventures to hint – in a minuscule way – the approach of an agenda that would or probably could guide the way forward for a nation which has been rocked back by nature…as far back as it could have possibly been pushed.
No one was prepared for this. How could we have prepared for this? Maria landed on Dominica as a category 5 weather system. Upon making contact with the island with wind speeds well over 160mph, the gusts rapidly intensified in the region of 200mph as they rushed through the gullies and valleys of Waitukubuli. Water washed the island sweeping almost every living and non-living thing in its path.
Devastation and despair ensued. I cannot sincerely imagine how tough it must be on Dominica at this time and I shall not even pretend to know. The fact that I did not actually experience hurricane Maria takes me out of the actual equation of knowing, but I somewhat understand what our people must be going through based on the reports which I have received.
There has been this constant refrain of accounts which mirror each other. Independent experiences cohere in a unified reality. Simply put, Maria has taken us back to basics. Basics here meaning, a situation where we must rethink, reshape and reconstruct: rethink our people-to-people relations, reshape our unified identity and reconstruct our social communities and infrastructural landscape.
For this to happen, we must all be involved in the Dominica renaissance – which must happen! Let us not simply patch up old ways and lay the foundation on shallow thoughts and ideas and expect that Dominica will miraculously “rise” again. This is simply not going to happen. Thinkers of all persuasions should have been engaged eleven days ago, or two years ago, or thirty-eight years ago. In fact, the founding principles of our great nation should have been thought through by Framers who espoused the ideals of our Dominicanss.
Attention seeking, over acting and self-serving grabbers must take a back seat, or should be politely asked to do so. Dominica is simply not the arena for this, especially at this time. I write these things not because I like to or even wish to write, but I write because I feel compelled or inspired to. This message asks us to begin afresh. We have had 40 years to make that restart so why not start now? Hurricane David was a cleansing as Dominica emerged from the tumultuous 70s, but based on what I have experience in my lifetime, we did not aptly reshape our ways and there seems to be no prevailing and identifiable ‘Dominicaness’ about us; although we are a culturally unique people in several ways.
Tropical Storm Erika was a reminder and still we did not aptly reshape our ways and there seems to be no prevailing and identifying ‘Dominicaness’ about us; although we are a culturally unique people in several ways. Now, we have a perfect opportunity to redesign our future as a proud people and pass on this new beacon of a nation to our survivors. I hope this time we shall aptly reshape our ways so that a prevailing and identifiable ‘Dominicaness’ will emerge, on the strength of the rich and unique cultural tapestry of our people.
Do you wish to pass on a Dominica like the one which predates hurricane Maria to our children and their children? Do we wish to pass on a Dominica which predates tropical storm Erika to our children and their children? Should we pass on this Dominican attitude and reality which predates hurricane David to our children and their children? If you answered no or even hesitated on your conscious reflection on any of the preceding questions, let us run this leg of the relay well and pass on the baton of a healthy and model nation to future generations who are anxiously waiting to sprint to the finish line.
This call asks us to embrace our independent ideas, build or strengthen our families and communities, solidify our party political allegiance and other such alliances, stand up for our spiritual and religious persuasions, harness our innate passion and dare to be different. Let us not be duped into believing that one general sense of blind philosophical order is going to see us through. No! Instead, it is the strength of our unique difference which will and should unite us.
The strength of our individual resolve determines the robustness of our unity, but this unity must be worked at and our unity must be sensibly managed with unselfish fervor. I respond to the sound which seems to me to be a rallying cry; an alarm for unity. Or then again it could be this thinker’s postulation, but I share it all the same. Hopefully, others may think as I now do and spark a flame which will ignite the torch that must light our future.
This little flame of which I speak may be among the other brightly shining lights of hope which may have already been burning, and now we must bring them together to create one big light which the world and its outer layers will not be able to miss or ignore. But this is the tricky part. In order to do this, sensible and selfless leadership resolve is vital.
We have what it takes so let us do what it takes to position Dominica on the path of success. Maria has offered us a desired future and we can simply choose what we know to be in the best and unselfish interest for all of us and the generations to come. Or, we could grab the quick fixes with no thoughts of tomorrow only to be whipped by our descendants for failing them. I select the option that results in “the best and unselfish interest for all of us and the next generations,” cognizant of the reality that this will not happen on its own and that the task may not be easy.
Work must be put into whatever we desire for ourselves, our family, our community, our country and the world by extension. If there was ever a time when a people were called to action, this is that time. If there was ever a time when the task of nation building was urgent, this is that time. If there ever was a moment in world history when a people were given a perfect opportunity to seize the moment and skip over adverse circumstances, this is that moment.
Dominica, this is our brightest hour and a bright light exists in the deepest darkness of that cold Dominica night, eleven days after the passage of Maria. Grab hold of the light and shine it for all to see. It is ‘you’ who will and must make the difference, so do not discredit you and despise your fellow citizens to glorify a few. Let our mission be guided by this all-encompassing new and better Dominica agenda. This element which is needed to connect all the sectors involved in the renaissance: political, spiritual/religious and civic, is the will of the people.
Wake up and let your will show and be felt. We must be individually driven in our cause and united in purpose to create the agenda for remodeling this new Dominica. We must demand sensible stewardship from our leadership, who must manage with unselfish fervor. We are best at being us so let that guide our innate convictions and conscious actions as we journey on.