by Man from Baker Hill
Common sense explains that the collective cultural mindset of Montserratians has been conditioned by all the events of our past history. We are the way we think. We inherited it. We have become! And maybe our vision of ourselves is somewhat distorted. It seems to me that we are unable to see clearly how to design a pathway suitable to our needs. Similarly everyone else, especially our regional neighbours and benefactors, will have a distorted view of Montserratians and will find it very difficult to help us. But, can we blame them for the way they look at us or the way they treat us?
These last few years I always have a notion that people are laughing at Montserratians. And I am constantly trying to unravel that puzzle. So I ask myself, who is that Lady? Yea, the Lady with the harp that looks very unlike us. Shouldn’t our Lady be a Brown Girl in the ring? Certainly, our lady must look like brown sugar and plum, plum… plum and spice. After all that’s how our ancestors taught us to sing about our dream lady; ‘and she looks like sugar and plum, plum; and she is plumb.
After so many years of pondering and wondering, I have a plan that might help to stop people from laughing at Montserratians. We must start by learning ‘to do right’ to ourselves.
It is time for Montserrat to re-plumb. For example, what on earth does the lady with the harp mean to Montserratians? Tra-la-la…la! It is our coat of arms; so it is supposed to signify how we carry ourselves, how we see our ancestry. But I say, let us re-plumb. Change our Coat of Arms now! That unreal coat of arms is the cause of the inexplicable misery we experience, especially the volcano. And as the ancestral spirits tell me, it is one of the reasons why people laugh at us.
Who selected our coat of arms? And why choose a harp? I wonder if any Montserratian can play the harp. I wonder how many Montserrations can identify with their coat of arms even though it has been in use over 100 years. In fact, research explains that it was chosen in the year 1909. Good grief, let us change it now, this year. It is time to re-plumb.
In addition, the shamrock thing! What has a shamrock to do with us, Montserrat? What is this sham rock? Is it something carved from a rock? Is it a picture of an insect? Is it a figment of the imagination like the UNICORN in the British coat of arms? Are Montserratians just a bunch of damn shams living on a rock? Montserratians, please get real!
We have no sense of national purpose. But what can be expected from a people who carry a ‘sham rock’ in his heart and a ‘lady with a harp’ on his heart. What on earth those two symbols mean to our children? We will never be able to explain ‘the sham rock and the lady with the harp’ to our children that love to dance. Yes, dance! Dancing seems to be huge in the culture of Caribbean people. And Montserratians were told to dance with the brown girl in the ring who looks like sugar and plum…plumb; and who is plumb.
We must re-plumb. Too many things have happened to us. So many stupid things are happening with Montserratians. Our neighbours are grinning at us from ear to ear. And some of us have begun to feel their peering eyes and wonder why they poke fun at us. Some of us even wonder if the money taken from the Barclays bank vault is part of the reason for the distorted view our regional neighbours have of Montserratians.
But no, it can’t be the ‘volcano money’ taken from the bank that makes them laugh at Montserrat. I believe that they laugh at us because we have an uncanny way to put each other down. I also believe that they laugh at us because we take jealousy and envy to a peculiar depth; so much so that we prefer to elevate Non–Montserratians to manage our institutions. It seems to me that Montserratians seek out every reason to explain why they must not elevate or support their own.
Last week Bennett Roach asked me about the person whom the government appointed as the Registrar of Lands. I did not know who the person was; but I tried to explain to him that Mr. Gerald, the person who I thought was the Registrar of Lands, had retired. A couple days ago I understood that Mr. Gerald was pushed down and another unqualified non Montserratian was given the job as Registrar of Lands.
Yesterday I listened to the manager of our airport, a non-Montserratian, reporting on ZJB about a seminar that he attended on behalf of Montserrat. My God as early as 1970 or thereabouts we trained John ‘Gas’ Ryan to be our air port manager. Why did we have to go to St. Kitts to find a manager for our ‘wee little’ airport? And how de we get here ‘in 2012 from there in1971’, to have to beg St. Kitts for an air port manager? Is there no Montserratian capable for the job or suitable to train for the job?
And the list, of instances where Montserratians elevate others above themselves, past, present and likely future is long, I can, but will not go on and on.
But last night I reminded Bennett that every government department and some other big institutions prefer to send their printing and advertising work overseas, rather than giving the work to a local printer, and there are only two; so too, many businesses prefer to record reduced sales rather than advertise in the one local newspaper in print or online.
Let me make my point now. People laugh at Montserratians, not because we took the ‘volcano money’ from the Barclays bank, but because we employ non–Montserratians to manage our money in our banks… in the 21st century. They laugh at us because Montserratians do not display smartness except in the areas of envy and jealousy of one another, greed and the lust for power to keep each other down.
It is time to employ learned Montserratians to manage our monies at St. Patrick’s Co-operative Credit Union and the Bank of Montserrat Limited.
It is time to ask the government why it did not renew Sonny Phillip’s contract at Land Development Authority. It is time to ask why send home a very efficient civil servant because she is fifty five years old, (and another not even 55 yet) when the Law sets the retirement age at sixty years. After all, the Law states that she MAY retire at fifty-five. May, will never mean shall!
Montserratians, it is time to change our mindset. It is time get a real sense of national purpose; time to get rid of what we have become; time to clean out the pipes in our minds and re-plumb. It is time to burn all the ladies with the harp. It is time to throw all the damn little shamrocks into the sea. My God, we need a brown girl or boy in the ring, who looks like sugar and a plum…; and who is plumb sure about what being a Montserratian is supposed to mean.