The Bacchanal State
Dominica is being transformed into a bacchanal state, a vision that is incompatible with the model of a "nature isle".
This bacchanal party culture takes place throughout the year. Every event is engineered as a party, a bacchanal. Not even the most sacred weeks in the Christian calendar-Christmas and Easter- are spared. Easter, one of the holiest weeks for Christians across the world and the foundation of Christian beliefs and values, has become, in this most Christian of countries, a time for feting. Before the Easter weekend the airwaves werefilled with adverts for fetes and the topic of conversation was which fete will be attended on Easter weekend. There were no shortages of places to go. Every village had its own bacchanal. Mero alone had four fetes on the most sacrosanct of weekends. It was carnival all over again.
There is absolutely no end to the Bacchanal, which begins with the pre-carnival jams and continues with the street bacchanal, the carnival itself, through to the pre-independence and independence celebrations and post-independence jams to the New Year when the bacchanalia begins again. An important part of this bacchanalia is the loud party music from street corners, bars, rum shops,and motor vehicles that occur daily.
This bacchanal culture has become the opium of the people, creating an uncritical attitude to life, inducing in them a wakeful sleepiness, draining all sense of social and personal responsibility, and producing a dependency attitude and belief system. As with all drugs, it stimulates a craving for this opium, this bacchanal, a constant yearning for the next fix, the next fete, the only thing that gives their lives meaning and purpose.
The defenders of the bacchanal culture argue that the bacchanal culture serves the fledgling tourist industry, attracts customers to venues, aids in the sale of products; it is a celebration of the Dominican culture and a means to make a living. But these explanations are problematic on many levels. The bacchanal culture promotes alcoholism, drug abuse, aggressive and violent behaviour. In all the bacchanalia there are no family and child centred activities, as a result children are socialised into the bacchanal culture with its attending ills.
The bacchanal culture is completely out of harmony with the concept of Dominica as a "nature isle". Other events such as the literary festival and the arts are not given as much attention or resources as the bacchanal culture, the consequence: vast areas of untapped talent and potential income generators remain underdeveloped and stagnant. The young innovative brain, frustrated by the lack of opportunities, leaves the island or joins the bacchanal culture. The bacchanal culture then is a culture of failure, designed to create unthinking automatons. It is impossible for anyone to engage in any meaningful thought, study or intellectual activity with so much partying and noise.The bacchanal culture is also a reflection of a lawless state, where every law is knowingly trampled underfoot.
There is a taken-for-granted belief that Dominicans are not blessed with any imagination or creativity, and are incapable of generating more imaginative and creative ways of earning a living, of selling a product, attracting tourists and celebrating the Dominican culture, which is clearly false. God provided Dominicans with an abundance of imagination and creativity which must be utilised to cultivate more productive ways to do all of the above.
The bacchanal culture is the symbol of a dysfunctional society, a society in crisis, and a reflection of deeper unconscious and damaging psychological processes. The bacchanal culture represents a society that is spiritually and morally bankrupt, socially dysfunctional and economically stagnant.People therefore turn to the bacchanal culture and its associated harmful effects to give their empty lives meaning. The bacchanal cultureis also an illustration of a traumatised psyche and a destructive value and belief system seeking escape or solace from life's responsibilities in bacchanal.
Clearly the bacchanal culture impacts negatively on every aspect of life in Dominica, effects that remain unacknowledged. In a nutshell, it teaches Dominicans to be dysfunctional human beings to the continued detriment of Dominican society.The remedy for the bacchanal culture is a revolution of mind and spirit.
Colton Paul The Dominica Noise Abatement Association