Independence: What Independence?
Annually we participate in the independence celebrations. But independence is a misnomer and a fallacy. The Dominican mind, society, and culture are, in many respects, mirror images of their slave and colonial counterparts, and a symptom of the Post Traumatic Slave Syndrome.
Whilst watching a documentary on the slave trade, I was reminded of a fundamental truth: the legacy of slavery is to be found not only in the ruins and dug out artefacts of the concentration camps of the Caribbean and other slave centres but in the minds of Blacks and Whites. Whilst archaeologists excavate the physical landscape for the ruins of slavery, we must delve into the mindscapes of the descendants of slaves and slave owners to uncover the virus rooted deep in the psyche of Blacks and whites, shaping their psychology, culture and society. This mental inheritance is both unconscious and unacknowledged, and is the Post Traumatic Slave Syndrome that visionaries such as Bob Marley, Marcus Garvey and Franz Fanon, the revolutionary writer from Martinique, commented on.
The Post Traumatic Slave Syndrome lurks deep in the Dominican mindscape and infiltrates the very fabric of Dominican Society and culture. The belief amongst European slave owners and colonialists that Blacks were only capable of hard labour and merriment are clearly evident in the extent to which the Dominican society and culture are saturated with everything bacchanal whilst the more reflective activities are marginalised. The cultural policy- if it exists- is skewed towards the bacchanal industries-fetes, alcohol, and drugs. Art, theatre and literature are judged insignificant. The literary festival, for example, struggles for survival each year. Agriculture and other natural resources are wholly underdeveloped. The tourism industry is ill-defined. Is it any surprise that the economy is moribund? Yet there is no shortage of resources for bacchanal and its affiliated industries, the only industries that are thriving in Dominica. Anyone who aspires to transcend and reach for something other than the mediocrity of these industries, will find that the Dominican society and culture are straitjackets to stifle their dreams and imprison their imagination and creativity, preventing them from blossoming. What then is left for those who do not wish to engage in these industries, who crave for something more, except to leave the island? No wonder there is a massive brain drain in Dominica.
But that's not all. The physical environment which is crucial for mental, spiritual wellbeing and health is polluted and uninspiring. Rivers are contaminated and are drying out. The streets and forests are defiled daily, and our capital city is in desperate need of a face-lift.
Social, political and spiritual institutions thrive on the devaluation and disempowerment of the individual and are crumbling from moral and spiritual decay as a result ; the healthcare system is in crisis and psychological and social enmity are common. What is more, the socio-economic status of the island is based on dependency and begging, which together with bacchanal and its associated evils, are the new religion and morality.
Our women denigrate themselves and they in turn are debased by men who are desensitised and rendered powerless by the society. Our children and childhood are likewise devalued, noticeable in the fact that there are no child-centred activities and play. So called "family fun days" are simply excuses for bacchanal, alcohol and drug binges. This abnormal society is apparent in the homes, which are often abusive, single parent households.
The child who has caught this psychological virus is averse to education, which reinforces their distorted worldview and sense of self. In the end, there are only fetes, dependency, begging, and madness to look forward to on the streets of Roseau. What a life!
Yet Dominicans continue to accept the indefensible. This is a clear manifestation of the low expectations they have of themselves, the government and anyone else who profess to lead them. It is also symptomatic of the virus of the mind or the Post Traumatic Slave Syndrome.
There will be merriment during the independence festivities, without the realisation that the chains have been removed from the body to the mind. Bob Marley's mantra for emancipation from mental slavery is a call for mental and spiritual revolution.