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50 steps to maturity


rhondathompson, [email protected]

50 steps to maturity

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Within the past two months, Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago, two of the larger islands in the region, have each celebrated 50 years of Independence. After centuries of colonialism in which their peoples’ forefathers had been denied the right to self-governance, they have been totally in charge of their affairs.
It is a magnificent tribute to the descendants of colonially governed and oppressed peoples that they have been so spectacularly successful at managing their countries; that standards of living have been raised; that the depressing social conditions of the colonial years have been ameliorated; and that peace and order have been the hallmarks of these two nations.
It is a wonderful irony that both Jamaica and Trinidad are being led by female prime ministers, for such a circumstance indicates by itself the major social and political strides and contributions women have been able to make to nation building during the past half-century.
Not a single woman had emerged in any of these countries during the heady days of colonialism, which was producing many citizens whose claim they grew up stupid under the Union Jack represented more than the title of Tom Clarke’s eponymous book.
Independence has brought many benefits to the region. As a group of islands in the Caribbean Sea, we now have the fate of our futures in our own hands and we are able to better tailor policies to suit our peculiar conditions.
But the road to Independence was replete with potholes, the most major of which was the collapse of the Federation. It was a tragedy of immense proportions that within that framework there was no workable solution to be found.
Regional cooperation
It still seems a good idea, however, for there to be regional cooperation between our islands, even if another federation is still way off. The immediate reality is that we can do more together than we can do alone, and that is a harsh political truth, even if some leaders prefer to be a big fish in a little pond.
In the meantime, we need to do all we can to deepen the functional cooperation which exists between our countries.
In the past half-century there have been many fine examples of regional cooperation, not the least of which has been the university situation, in which our students have lived worked and studied with their regional peers, while preparing for the future careers. In this way functional cooperation has flourished in a most pleasing manner
The Caribbean Court of Justice presents another such opportunity for deeper functional arrangement. In 1962 the Federation was lost when Jamaica actually withdrew and Trinidad, through its then leader, recognized the political equation that “one from ten leaves nought”.
It would be an historic act of affirmation of our regional inter-connectedness if both Jamaica and Trinidad were to mark the fact of their 50th anniversaries of Independence by signing onto the appellate jurisdiction of the region’s highest court. Such action would strike a mighty blow for regional maturity, and could be the first step in securing the economic future of the region by presaging a deeper political and economic arrangement.
Meanwhile, we heartily congratulate Jamaica and Trinidad on their achievement.

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