Friday, 22 February 2013 02:30
By Eli Fuller
I was flicking through the local radio stations and heard what sounded like a parliamentary debate on the Economic Citizenship programme.
The passion in the voice of the speaker - who clearly was against the idea - was intense. Whenever I hear people speak about it, they act like having an Antiguan passport is the best thing a person can have in their possession, and that permitting others to get it somehow dilutes its value. Antiguans have to be some of the proudest nationals in the world. They make sure everyone knows that they are from Antigua.
"Me bharn yah," "Antigua me come from," or "Me nuh bang water" are some of the first phrases in dialect any new resident learns when they make the move here. I see more and more young people with tattoos of the flag on their arms, or the name Antigua inked across their backs, or of the word Wadadli across a forearm. Many local artists sing about Antigua in their songs, and there is no shortage of people naming their businesses after the ancient Amerindian name for the island.
Despite Wadadli being a slightly modified version of "ouladli" found in that famous Carib to French 1666 dictionary, it's still cool to see and hear the word which was used by the Arawak people now long gone and often forgotten here. Island pride or country pride isn't unique to Antigua, and I have witnessed it in many of the countries around the world that I have travelled to.
However, what is different to me is that many Antiguans seem to be blindly patriotic or proud of the fact that they are Antiguan. As a proud Antiguan reading this, can you easily answer why you are proud to be from Antigua? What makes it so special to hold a passport from this little country? Think about that while you continue reading.
There are so many examples of things that are happening in our country which make you wonder where the patriots have gone. I'd like to touch on one of these examples. Recently, on my walks at dawn with my young son, I have been astonished by the amount of garbage on the sides of the road.
I am currently renting in Hodges Bay, and it truly makes me wonder where these people who throw the garbage come from. They can't be the same proud Antiguans who were “bahn ya," who didn't "bang water" - can they? It's a shame to say that the answer is often a resounding YES.
Every day, our proud and patriotic people do things to this little island which corrode the very thing that we should be most proud of. The pristine and beautiful environment which all of our ancestors found here when they first "bang(ed) water" to get here has never taken the beating it's getting at the moment, and we all need to do more as patriots to save our patrimony.
I don't think I ever remember seeing as much garbage laying around the place as I do now. Even with regular cleanups, the garbage returns daily. Fresh KFC boxes and cups, Guinness bottles, and styrofoam food containers are more easy to spot than wildlife down at the beach. Whenever I see people discarding trash, I say something. It shouldn't be acceptable to watch people discard garbage on the beach, in the bushes, or on the side of the road.
Yesterday, I drove to the government's Hospitality Training Institute at High Point, and realised that I had to write about this issue. I had to say something. Here is a school of young Antiguans and Barbudans who may be the future leaders of our nation, and right outside the school there are piles of garbage up and down the road.
Where the students wait for the bus, a pile of garbage grows daily. If these future hoteliers ignore the trash sitting at their feet and don't have the interest to do something about it, then I am not sure what we can do as a nation.
Proud Antiguans have to find a voice and remember what it is that you are proud of. Be brave as well as proud, and stand up for what is right, otherwise before long, your pride may be something as historic as the Arawaks.