Thursday, October 20, 2005

Frequent T&T Review contributor Cary Fraser writes a letter to the Stabroek News today in response to Tuesday's Stabroek editorial, which asked "Who are the modern counterparts in the Caribbean of Eric Williams and C.L.R. James?" and went on to remark that:

The challenges posed by independence in the sixties and the subsequent efforts to build nation states have been considerable. The New World generation of Best and Girvan led the way in talking about the decolonisation of the mind, the rewriting and re-interpretation of our social and economic history and the need for a re-assessment of our role and our identity free of imported dogma. But one cannot help feeling that the period of post-independence turmoil is still to produce that classic work or works that the situation demands and that might enable us to begin to see in perspective the social and economic upheaval inherent in the rapid change of the last forty years that seems to have left these small Caribbean states rudderless and vulnerable in a sea of globalisation.

Fraser replies:

the emergence of Derek Walcott, Vidia Naipaul, Wilson Harris, Martin Carter, George Lamming, Lloyd Best, William Demas, Elsa Gouveia, Walter Rodney, among many others, in the post-1945 period reflected the coming of age of the wealth of talent that the region had nurtured during the late colonial period. The work of this successor generation built upon that of their predecessors and created a body of work that has a relevance that will transcend their respective lifetimes. Perhaps, the fact that so much talent emerged in such a brief period of time has led us to think that the region will continue to generate this level of talent on a systematic basis. I would suggest that our experience with cricket over the same period should encourage us to be more measured in our expectations.

The 1945-1970 era in the West Indies was a period of extraordinary creative ferment in the region but it also resulted in the export of population, including some of the most talented individuals. It may be useful for regional leaders, from the political arena and from civil-society, to think about ways to engage the diaspora in helping the region to negotiate the present and the future.

In other words, best and brightest, gone away. Our political leaders continue to send their own children abroad--where are Mr. Manning's sons, Mr. Panday's daughters? not here in the country their fathers are so gleefully screwing up--so how can we expect talented, ambitious young people not to leave for big cold cities where they can train their talents & fulfil their ambitions? And slowly, slowly, slowly these little islands sink further into the waves.

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