Books about Anguilla


Saturday, 12 March 2011


The Mind of the People: In a democracy the voice of the people is the voice of the nation, this is political terminology that still must be tested and proven in Anguilla. This period of taxation now being imposed could signal another state of depression on the country similar to that we’ve come to know about. According to our history taxation is one element that brought infuriating oppression on the people of Anguilla in the 1740’s. In one of my earlier writings I quoted from the locally produced book “Bless our Forebears by Colville Petty and we are reminded of a very difficult period in our history, when severe economic depression gave rise to a plan by the British Government to move our entire population to Demerara Guiana, it is said, that much of the conditions of that day was brought on by excessive taxation by the St. Kitts Government of which Anguilla was part of a forced union. The journey actually begun, but most Anguillians refused to go and chose rather to remain and preserve the rock, (as it was called when I grew up.) It is said that during that period of hardship Anguillians developed into a society of independent peasants (a class of people, farmers/ laborers of low social rank.) That stigma of “low social rank” followed us for generations; in fact, it was the 1967 revolt that brought our plight face to face with our future. The story says that the Anguillan character was developed from hardship and the people were made independent because of a difficult life. Much has not changed, our people, educated or not remains an independent, determined and resilient people today.

I felt pressed to write about “the mind of the people” because again we are tested. Our history of oppression should never be typically our way of life, phased in, phased out. Because of our determination, we have evolved with a strong sense of character, determined to face the future with pure realism. My sense of country brought me to acknowledge that being a small island government plays a very important role in our expectations and impending successes, and it is incumbent on us that we demand nothing less than appropriate governing. That brought me to my extended topic “the wisdom of government.” Our Government, and every one embracing the responsibility to govern must be cognizant of our past, our history must be guarded with vigilance and a prudent optimism that it may never be repeated. We must be driven by a conviction (certain confidence) and govern by a certain philosophy (viewpoint/values) not idealism, that leads to dictatorship.

The level of taxation now imposed could have a drastic negative impact on the country and could do much more damage than the intended resolution. The immediate cost to our living standard would be affected and without doubt our ability to continue on our path to a better quality of life is now impeded. We now suffer a very serious setback due to current conditions. Usually with this degree of hostility against momentum, an incentive package is propagated together with such devastating measures, to motivate the people and encourage growth. In spite of the bad news the country must move on, we simply cannot slip back into a state of depression and lose hope. Government has lost its way, and failed to even inform the people that the measures taken will work for them in some mysterious way, at least to say, take courage and let’s do this together in anticipation that in two years we would have stirred economic growth and we all would be better off. This is clearly a far cry from what was promised us all, it leaves the electorate without answers.

The Wisdom of Government: A review of the period 1994 –1999 governing period indicates that there was a pragmatic and sensible approach to government; ironically, that government was made up of a most unlikely combination today the Hughes-Banks Government. The review shows that this government brought innovation to the country, how we generate new capital, the transshipment procurement was a clear example; how we capitalize on sustainable investment and brought modernization in the area of the first properly paved roads and quality accommodation facilities to the island. Unfortunately after five years that government failed, there are still details unfolding of why this team disintegrated, but certainly a bitter rivalry ensued. The elections of 2000 resulted in Victor Banks being reelected; he returned to government and firmly established himself as a representative with a mind for the people. He continued the progressive approach to governing and continued the path away from the hardship we’ve known and on to a better life for all Anguillians.

Hughes obviously slipped back into the opposition benches and actually lost his primary focus of leadership, we saw a fragmented opposition. The United Front government became the country’s newest political force. A combination, Osborne Fleming and Victor Bank emerged as the predictable team that would show the ability to work together and governed for the common good of the people of Anguilla; for the first time in our history our country understood “the wisdom of government” and what that meant to the plight of a people. There is no doubt that the country changed for the better, we experienced a pattern of growth for a consistent eight years which changed the face of the country. Together they broke the spell of peasantry and hardship over Anguilla and put us on a path to prosperity. It is remarkable how people forget; even those with fair intellect were distracted and misguided in rejecting Victor Banks at the polls by unjustifiable reasoning of impropriety, rather than judging this man by the decency of his character and desire to serve his people. I am sure that by any standard Banks probably counted it a privilege to have served in government at any cost. A significant segment of the population feels that they brought more prosperity to Anguilla than all of our prior history and resulted in the most talked about governing period in the history of the island.

Anguillians are equal participants in the growth of our island; unlike other islands, we own a significant slice of our economy, from the banking sector to insurance, the hardware business to our supermarkets and stores. The small hotel and villa accommodations are mostly owned by our own people. We are full participants in our own economic plight; this was a key part of the economic structuring of the past government. Moreover, during that period we saw the Social Security system became a most robust entity with a very strong financial footing, we established the Community college and a medical school on the island. We probably have some of the most well built homes anywhere, and our communities are of a standard, well urbanized. We probably have a better road system than most of the islands around us and certainly have excelled from the desolate dry pit of the 1840s. For the first time in history we saw jet liners landed on our soil, our people were clinging to any available space on the airport fencing to get a glimpse. Our communities are well engaged and assorted; our visitors and expats live among us as part of us, they adjust and become part of our society, they join our local organizations and participate in our social life style. I know isolation, segregation and separation; there is little of that to complain about on Anguilla. The past Government laid a solid foundation to build upon.

At this junction in our history when we are again challenged, we must guard against gradual retreat and regress to our former state. A noteworthy group of our pioneering citizens have for some time been accusing our honorable Chief Minister of being still sympathetic to the cause of St. Kitts in the ’67 revolt, we must never forget the severe oppression meted out on us a people. Our government must be very sensitive to every moment in our history and guard against our state that we never again go back to that age of despair. Certainly, this time in our history must be guarded with care and attention; I contend that the mind of the Anguillian people must remain alert to our conditions and where we go from here. My concern is “the wisdom of government!” Are we going to protect the gains we’ve made throughout our history to this moment? Or are we going to squander the trust of a people so worthy of your confidence. Are we going to divide our character through political devices? Or console the masses with the wisdom of leadership, and direct our future to succeed. The spirit of this generation of young people was lifted far above the peasantry we knew, and was known by our forebears, they have no knowledge of such suffering and should never be expose to an era that’s behind us, I am sure they would never dear to imagine. They see the paradise known to our visitors only; we see our destiny ahead. Be careful to guard our freedom and the success we cherish. Our rise from peasantry to a land of plenty must be guarded; can we rise to the challenge, can we trust the wisdom of this government?

By: ejharrigansxm

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“Nothing in the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity” – MLK.