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People's power

David Comissiong

by Latoya Burnham

The current political system in Barbados is dysfunctional and civil organisations like the September 3rd Foundation may be examples of how society will have to develop going forward.

Stressing that he was not suggesting there was no need for Government, head of the foundation, David Comissiong said the initiatives to create the kind of society the people wanted, might have to come from the people themselves.

Using the foundation as an example, he said it was the members of it who had come together, decided what they were going to do and taken their initiative to Government for support, which they gained. But to start with, it was not Government-driven.

There was cultural penetration aimed at youth, making them believe that material possessions were important, glamorising antisocial behaviour and violence, while down-playing spirituality.

He said if Barbados was to recapture its youth this would have to be fought and strongly, and the only way to do so was through forming a “true nation” where the youth had a stake.

“That is the attack. We have a tremendous task ahead of us because we have to resist that in a context where young people have their laptops, computers, BlackBerries, Facebook, Twitter and all the rest of it. Clearly we can’t shut out those things but we can develop our own resistive mechanisms based on the concept of us really coming to terms with building a true nation; … a true nation that gives young people a sense of their own culture, their own history, a community that belongs to them, that roots them, gives them relevant functions,” he said.

He was speaking at the foundation’s lecture on the anniversary of the death of the Campus Trendz six, on the topic of The Causes of and Solutions to Youth Alienation and Crime in Barbados.

“Ultimately it is about how do we build this nation. We have to do some very, very serious rethinking and sad to say, I think our political system is dysfunctional, I don’t know if it was ever truly functional, but it is certainly dysfunctional. The way that the two-party system functions with this tit-for-tat; when one does X the other says no, it must be Y, and it is all about this to and fro. That kind of approach is not conducive to new creative national thinking.

“It is my deep concern that that dysfunctional system is not capable of forging the new perspectives, the new directions that we need to move in if we are to deal with some of these serious challenges and really buckle down to the task of building an authentic nation,” he stated.

Comissiong said he firmly believed the way forward was to take action in hand.

“I don’t think we can sit back and depend on the politicians or the official system of governance to solve these problems, to take us forward. I think enlightened citizens have to come together. We have to join together. We have to identify each other as individuals, as institutions; we have to find that coalition, to use a George Bush phrase, that coalition of the willing to come together across social classes, across ethnicity.

“We have to find ways of coming together as a people and doing the creative thinking and creative action as a people. That does not mean that there is not a role for Government, don’t get me wrong, of course there is a role for Government, but I think the September 3rd Foundation is maybe an example of how we are going to have to do it. Where we brought together people who are deeply committed to a particular issue,” he said.

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