An opportunity for a brighter tomorrow

0

The world has been brought to its collective knees by this pandemic. Small countries like ours are especially vulnerable to the fallout. I believe life for us will never be the same.

Tourism has been hit almost more than any other sector, and I grieve for the pain and loss felt all over the Caribbean. And yet through it all, I feel hope. Let me go back a bit.

While at college, I did a paper on diversification of the economy, and was taken aback to learn that among the planners and the leaders of our nation there was talk about diversification as far back as the 60s! I unearthed a speech by Dr Eric Williams that highlighted the need to get our proverbial eggs out of the petroleum basket.

Coming back to the present day, I feel this time is unlike any other, and is perfect for a real push in the direction of a national effort towards true diversification.

There have been times in history when people have been collectively galvanised into a task that was seen as important to the very existence of the nation. Look at Japan after World War II. Look at the Asian countries after the tsunami a few years ago. It would seem that only a crisis can bond a people, leading to a united effort for a collective good. I don’t know why that is but, sadly, that is the way it is.

The only thing we can do is seize the opportunity to come together not only as a country, but as a region, to put our shoulders together and rebuild better, for our very survival is at stake.

For a long time, our regional leaders like Sir Shridath Ramphal and William Demas alluded to the need for a rethink about how we do business in the Caribbean, but it always fell on infertile soil and little came of it. I really believe nation-building in a fractured territory such as ours has not served any of us well, and has left us vulnerable to every tremor on the world stage.

So, yes, I see an opportunity for this beautiful country of ours to retool and refit for a brighter tomorrow. I am convinced this can come only if we are on the same page.

I believe it can happen only if we all see that our survival as a region is at stake because, as I said earlier, it is only a crisis that will galvanise us into true regional unity.

Gary Almarales
St Helena