Development congruent with culture & sport
There were discos and places for dancing that no longer exist: Pussy Cat Disco, Warehouse, Sea-Moon, Green Lantern, Nite Box Disco, Grotto, Parish Hall and this was just in Roseau and surroundings. We are not even talking about Dread X in Marigot and some 20 others in Portsmouth and nearby communities. By comparison today we have Jackson's Shop, Davos and JR's. What a joke!
And what about regionally and internationally respected musicians: Mr. Christian and his music school; People's Action Theatre; Movement for Cultural Awareness; Alwin Bully UNESCO cultural chief; Swinging Stars and the Letang Family?
There were: Fred Nicholas and Bentley James of Arrow fame; Francophone's multiple award winners; Ophelia; Gordon and Jeff Joe; Guitarists Mike Morrow, Frere Soul, Chubby and Co, Avril and Zyro Henderson; master keyboardist Roy and Brian Shillingford, Armstrong James and Pembo, Cleve Jean Jacque or saxophonist Natty Wayne or lead vocalists such as Linford & Glen John, Levi Loblack & Phillip Horsford or showman Greg Breaker.
What about Kairi School of Music and Aunty Pearle Christian, De NC- two time OECS Monarch, and to cap it off, the Bouyon pioneers WCK and Cornel Phillip. They were making regional waves at the end of this era. Then it really ended when I thought we were on the verge of something big.
This country not too long ago exuded confidence. We walked with our heads up driven by the arts and our sports. Like Antiguan test cricketer Vivian Richards we walked with a swagger. When we flashed that passport, and it was just because we boasted of the first female Prime Minister of the region, who incidentally prioritized factory sheds at Canefield to a stadium- the first major death blow to sport on the island or not just because we were beholden to no man, we grew and ate our own food- NO HAND OUTS.
When I traveled to Barbados for the first time I was asked about Ophelia and I felt good to explain and even exaggerate on the prowess of my one-time high school teacher. Today, I always seem to have to come to my country's defense.
Presently, any honest Dominican will tell you that this swagger has gone. We wrestle, unable to convince ourselves, to convey that we are proud to be a Dominican; at least that is what is expected of a patriot. Why do we always seem to struggle beyond the flora and fauna God has given us? Or striding in national wear during independence?
Too many of those countries were lesser mortals in culture and sports and have now surpassed us. We once commanded 7-8 players on any Windward or Combined Islands cricket team; now we are left with only Kavem Hodge and we are still not sure how many games he will play.
This is what we have come to. You would think it's time for an inquiry into the demise of sports and culture in this island, but no one cares. These two departments always seem to get some token ministers and so by extension token financing. Imagine there is no clear-cut policy with respect to the loss of income for music and sports representation in Dominica due to COVID-19. The National Cultural policy framed by consultant Anita Bully is up for review. What is really required is implementation.
Can you see the broken link or do we pretend not to see it?
Exports were up; we were hailed the region's food basket when sport and culture were king. So much so, grapefruits, oranges and limes we once wasted by using these fruits to play football, and cricket; now we can't find or buy one to eat.
Where are the manufactured products of L. Rose or DCP or Bello which would send a flutter of pride in our hearts when we walked into foreign super-markets making us feel worthy of the title, Dominican? Ironically, today the land of water can bottle Kubuli no more.
We are known to have banned Gordon and Ophelia, jailed Chubby for taking a coconut while Grenadian runner Kirani James, Bajan singer Rihanna and Vincentian Kevin Lyttle have ran past us into international fame and acclaim with less ability than our own Michele Henderson.
St Vincent who only boasted of Mike Findley at one time when we had two players doing West Indies cricket duties now have quadrupled that representation. The same can be said of Grenada and St. Lucia. Our voices are muted for young, promising Athanaze for a Windward Island/ Zuke franchise selection, while Guyanese kick up a storm for the "over the hill" bowler- Permaul for Indies team duties.
I surmise that unless we study and understand what sports and culture can do for a country in terms of raising confidence and inspiring people to greatness, we will just be dreamers. Brazilians have been able to leverage football to become a proud nation despite their poverty; so it can be done. We should learn from the Jamaicans who have used Usain Bolt or Chris Gale, or on a musical note, Bob Marley and now Buju, to celebrate, sell and package commodities and by so doing help raise the psyche of their population, a rallying cry to success. Unless we do that we will keep wondering why we are, where we are as a people, while Citizenship by Investment (CBI) funds dwindle and dwindle and dwindle into oblivion.