By Tyrone Hodge
Almost everyone would agree that education is one of the pillars of a democracy, and without it, we find ourselves at the mercy of the uneducated. In Anguilla we’re either AUF or AUM. And thanks to Miss Lolita Davis, I wish to add a brand new label, that of foreigners, fakers and fools. Now these categories are interchangeable, in that one can belong to just one, or one can belong to all three.
Tyrone Hodge is an Anguillan currently living in California and an educator, who values education and one’s heritage. He has written extensively for the Anguillan newspaper and is a panelist of the Mayor Show, which originates in Anguilla every Saturday, in which we focus on identifying problems and offering solutions. His father was Walter G. Hodge, one of the original stalwarts of the Anguilla revolution of 1967.
We have been consistently at a disadvantage and we basically go along to get along. When did we become so passive? We have allowed ourselves to be conned in one way or the other without so much as lifting a finger of protest.
A leisurely drive around the island will give you an idea. It doesn’t matter from which end you start, whether east or west, north or south, the results are the same. Someone has to accept responsibility for what has been allowed to happen, and it not just the fault of one government but all of them.
We have produced some of the most brilliant people on the face of the earth and yet when you look around, we consistently elect a bunch of ne’er-do-wells to govern our country. It just doesn’t make sense. When we go to the doctor, we’d like to know that he or she is highly qualified to look after us, which is usually evident by a diploma hanging on the wall and all that goes with it.
We then go out and elect people after they’ve fed us a bill of goods that we fall for hook line and sinker, without so much as giving a second thought as to whether or not they are qualified, and we then sit back and look on as year after year passes with very little being done for ‘we the people’. And what do we do in response to this type of behaviour, vote them out the next time around and put in the previous bunch or ne'er-do-wells to restart the process all over again.
Folks, that does not make sense. That’s Einstein’s theory of insanity: “Doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.” The knock against us is that we are politically unsophisticated and therefore are novices when it comes to knowing what’s going on. One can argue that this sort of thing is intentional, for an illiterate voter, will not present much of a challenge to a leader or a government for that matter.
So there again, it goes back to being highly educated. We need people who possess the intellectual gravitas, that je ne sais quoi, to speak truth to power. We have been adopting a wait and see attitude. In that everyone agrees that an educated electorate is a must if a democracy is to survive, why then do we find ourselves going along with the things that have been done to us and for us?
It has been argued that government can’t do everything for us and that is true, but we do expect our government to do for us those things that we can’t do for ourselves, and at the risk of sounding redundant, I will name just a few. Things like an infrastructure, an exceptional education system, one in which no one gets left behind, a public safety system, a food supply that is healthy, one in which everyone has enough food to eat, and many others.
Everyone right now is jockeying for position should this government fall, and to bring back more of the same, I think, would be counterproductive. I’ve said many times that we need outside of the box thinkers, leaders who can anticipate problems and come up with solutions at the same time. We need leaders who are not afraid to speak truth to power, leaders who can bring the nation together. To be honest, we have had it with party politics.
In Anguilla, we have been willing participants to the whimsical ideas and actions of just about everyone, from the foreigners, the fakers and yes, even the fools. We have allowed foreigners to come in to our country and pretty much write their own ticket, and in some cases allowed them to walk away and left ‘we the people’, holding the bag. We have watched the fakers come in and pretend to be our friends, when in fact they came in with their own agendas, and of course, the last of the triumvirate, the fools. Well, that is the group who more often than not wind up accepting the status quo, while our governments agree to a quid pro quo.
I used to think that we were a representative democracy, but that seems to be an exercise in futility, for our representatives, even though they depend on us to return them to office, act in ways that are not conducive to good governance or our best interests. They count on the fact that we have short memories and will not remember the bad legislation that they were a party to much to our detriment.
Sadly, our people are not solely to blame. We have been a people who were left for dead. We were a people who were ridiculed by our Caribbean brothers and sisters, in the same way that an older sibling would taunt a younger one. And what was even more hurtful was the fact that those tasked with our welfare knew and did nothing about it. When you heard from our protectors things like, “It might as well be under water as above it” and “’Tis only fit for goats,” what did we truly expect?
My fellow Anguillans, this is a call to action! We are a people unlike people anywhere in the world. We are independent because we are land owners. If our land is taken away, we are no better off than the poor folks down in Haiti, and this is not a knock against Haiti. Haiti is still suffering from the repercussions of standing up for themselves, while the rest of the world has chosen to allow her to be brutalized by the powers that be.
We cannot allow ourselves to be made to crawl for that which is rightfully ours, and we should be damned if we allow some people in Antigua who are yet to set foot on Anguilla dispose of our properties, properties that some of our forefathers paid for with their own blood sweat and tears. Do any of you honestly think that you are going to come to Anguilla and take possession of any foreclosed property?
Our chief minister has advocated for a class system and I find that ironic coming from him. There is an old saying coined by American Laureate James Baldwin, “Know from whence you came. And if you know from whence you came, the possibilities for going forward are endless.” Mr Chief Minister, “Know from whence you came.”
Again my people, where is the spirit of ‘67? Would we have tolerated this crap that this government is currently doing? Let’s keep score? This government campaigned on the promise, or should I say premise that they were going to make things right and by that I mean, save the indigenous banks, repeal the Stabilization Levy, get the economy going and a host of other things. I do believe that their manifesto is still online where one can check. Our chief minister was very adamant about these things.
At the 82nd Monetary Council meeting, after Dr Ralph Gonsalves waxed poetic about the indigenous Anguilla banks and their incestuous lending practices, and it was our Honorable CM’s turn to accept the baton as the chairman of the monetary council.
Mr Banks then proceeded to talk about how Anguilla’s banking situation was a unique one, and it did not fit the one size fits all formula. He then talked about the reason why the indigenous banks existed, the reasons being that in addition to being loyal customers, Anguillans were also owners as well. At least he got that right.
Mr Chief Minister, it is the height of hypocrisy to hear you say that. To hear you call our situation a real living experience is preposterous. You went on to say that, “We have to make the case that there are particular concerns that we have as a people, as a nation that must be a part of the process.” Really, and what might they have been -- pray tell. So Dr Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, what the hell happened?
You know during the election it was the height of hypocrisy to see former chief minister, Mr Osborne Fleming, on the same platform extolling the virtues of Mr Banks, the same Mr Banks who Mr Fleming allegedly said that the day Mr Banks gets his hand on Anguilla he’d do to us the things that usually happen in a brothel. So one has to ask the question is there no one with a shred of common decency left in our country?
Our leaders have always led from behind, following in the footsteps of those in front who I might add in the words of Peter Binose, “couldn’t manage their own household budget, much less that of a country.” We wound up reacting to this government in a way that would imply that we were simply shocked. How could this be?
We have very short memories, and if we’d given much thought to what our chief minister was saying, we would have asked the question: Aren’t you the same one who colluded with Sir Dwight Venner and signed the agreement to amalgamate both indigenous banks back in 2009? How can you now stand in front of us on this platform and argue that you are going to save the banks?
We failed to ask the pertinent questions and in so doing sealed our fate. If we do nothing but simply go along with this government, we then can’t complain when we see the destruction of our way of life. Whether or not, we get out of this death spiral, is anyone’s guess.
While no one will readily admit to it, what we are witnessing is the wholesale sell out of our country and if we allow it to happen, we have only ourselves to blame. I mean look around you. We are seeing the demise of Anguilla’s institutions, not to mention our culture. Everywhere you go you are seeing someone else’s culture encroach on ours. No one is assimilating and at the risk of sounding xenophobic, I challenge anyone to dispute my claims. We are the host country and we welcome their culture, but not at the risk of losing ours. That can’t be allowed to happen.
At the rate we are going, we will have to resurrect the poor house, for if Victor and his damned banking bill, the Central Bank and the Asset Management Company get their way, we will definitely become paupers as was so eloquently stated by Reverend Miles on the Mayor Show.
We now find ourselves in the midst of foreigners, fakers and fools and how we deal with all three will determine whether or not we survive the onslaught that is headed our way.
We are being called whiners and the rest of it and some see us as lazy, not trying hard enough, just sitting around waiting, for handouts from the UK, the US and the EU. We are even being referred to as a rock with two chickens and three goats and that’s okay, but it’s our damn rock, our two chickens and our three goats. What have you got, other than a penchant for whining?
We’ve had a chance to see how others view us and that is nothing new to us. We have been denigrated all our lives, and we might even consider it a badge of honour. So to those who think that we’re a ----hole, where do you come from? You don’t even count since you didn’t have the balls to use your real name. You want throw stones, fine you are entitled to do so, but have to guts to show your hand. We can agree to disagree, but you don’t get to call me out while hiding behind someone’s skirt.
Anguilla is at a time and place where we need leadership to step up and lead. If you not part of the solution, then you are part of the problem. The Asset Management Company is supposed to start liquidating Anguillan properties in March. How will we react when someone shows up saying that they are now the lawful owners of a house of a piece of land? Is this what our government meant when they told us it’s all about you?
We cannot sustain what is currently going on and I’m afraid that if nothing is done, then the likelihood of losing it all is more evident than ever. We need to put a screeching halt to this ill thought out idea before it’s implemented, for if it’s allowed to go forward, ’67 will pale in comparison. Let’s hope that our leaders heed the call and do the right thing. Until next time, may God bless us all and may He continue to bless Anguilla.