Author: Jeevan A. Robinson | Date: 11 August 2019
If Montserrat can find a way to harness this groundswell of virtual patriotism, and make it be so towards active and tangible participation in the island's redevelopment, Montserrat would be 3/4 of the way towards truly being revived towards sustainability.
Each day, we are seeing the great works of Montserratians the world over, via social media, being put forward. From Eze Bongo's creative genius; to Montserrat's cricketers doing superbly on the international scene in the UK; to the island's calypsonians slaying all and sundry on the regional stage; to Yvonne Weekes, Myrle Roach, Howard Fergus and others writing for all - Montserrat is wealthy!
Now, you may raise your brow and scuff at the notion that we are wealthy when all we hear daily is this constant negative chime that the economy is poor and things are bad. I submit that economic prosperity is dimmed but it is not extinguished.
Montserrat is wealthy because our people are our wealth.
Frankly, I do not want to be drawn into this cyclical hoo-la-loo (Yes! I just made up that word!) about how we need to empower our own; hire our own; love our own and all that sweet sounding flair of "performance rhetoric" as I choose to call it. What Montserrat requires is to get on with these things the country knows it needs to thrive - with the enrichment and support towards our human capital being placed first.
It is this human capital - drawn from the local community and the international Diaspora community- that will see Montserrat rise. To close the island off with insular chatter and that mind-numbing garb about who lives there and who does not, is a fool's errand of distraction.
A Leader must arise from the noise that focuses this debate; takes into consideration the emotions at play; and sets the policy and action platform so that all Montserratians at home and abroad can contribute to the island's resurgence effectively and via a centralised medium.
We are arguing too much; disparaging too much; disliking too much; pulling down too much. Time for a change of our conversation and look at how we can grab this virtual patriotism energy and yes - still talk about our island's future and growth - but now instead seek to grow more; support more; disparage less; et al.
I wrote last week that the economic revival of Montserrat is not simply tied to some great economic theory that some politicians want you to think it is tied to. Indeed so, those do have their place, but I submit that the basis of our culture - its richness and vibrancy must be placed at the forefront of Montserrat's economic resurgence. My point is simply to commodify Montserrat's culture and package it for an audience that is not only Montserratian.
It will take funding to do this no doubt. But when Montserrat is represented regionally and internationally why can't our masqueraders play and dance for those in attendance too. We have an international population, with Montserratians and their groupings all over the world. Time to stop talking about harnessing this diversity of the locations where we are represented around the world, and now change the conversation towards putting a plan together to get on with it!
The Jamaicans have done it. In every corner of the world, Jamaican culture is what tells the story of that island via their music, cuisine, sporting stars and such.
The windward islands are now doing it - taking their music and giving the Trinis a serious run for their money!
Montserrat too can do the same. Our wealth is in our culture. Our wealth is in our people.
Nation building is partly both a political exercise but more greatly, I submit once again that nation building is a social enterprise, that in this modern era of global inter-connectivity, must transcend localised geographical borders.
If we are still caught up on talking about who lives where, and who stayed and who left, then we are having the most nonsensical; stagnating and socially limiting conversation that will retard the future progress of Montserrat.
We are wealthy! Let's start using that wealth of cultural and human resource and set the island ablaze to the international community.
Note: Jeevan A. Robinson is Editor-in-Chief of Marketing, News & Information Media - MNI Media. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org