Here’s to a blessed Christmas, and a bright and prosperous 2024

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This year is rapidly winding down, and our fair State is aglow with holiday lights, Christmas trees and assorted decorations. Stockings are hung, and little excited children will be peeping “to see if reindeer really know how to fly,” according to Nat King Cole, the crooner. Many folks will be taking a sabbatical from their diets, and will be indulging to their heart’s content. We’re talking about fourth and fifth helpings of rice and peas, ham, turkey, sauces and puddings. The naughty plan to atone for their dietary transgressions in the early new year.

We here at NEWSCO Observer Radio, and The Daily Observer, would certainly like to wish all Antiguans and Barbudans the very best for 2024. May the year be one filled with many rewards. We also wish to thank all our listeners and readers for your loyalty throughout this past year. Your love and support made our work all the more worthwhile. And of course, a big ‘Thank you’ goes out to all our advertisers. Advertising dollars are the fuel that will keep media entities going, and we were fortunate and privileged to have done business with you. We look forward to continuing and enhancing our mutually beneficial relationship.

Our wish for 2024 is that we will strive to be “a kinder, gentler people.” Let us move away from some of the over-the-top and nasty rhetoric, seeking to find common ground, working towards more comity and goodwill. We believe that much more can be accomplished if we eschew the vitriol, and embrace each other as brothers and sisters. It is the need of the hour.

Meanwhile, let us never forget to reach out in meaningful and tangible ways to our brothers and sisters who are less fortunate. We are still seeing a goodly number of derelicts and vagrants on the streets, and rather than looking the other way, let us stop to inquire as to the person’s well-being, and seek ways in which we can assist him or her. These are the things that really matter in life, quite frankly. In assisting those who can’t do for themselves, we are doing heaven’s work.

The reality facing us here in Antigua and Barbuda is that 2024 will be a tougher year. We will have to tighten our belts, seeking ways to stretch the dollar. In that regard, it is not difficult to imagine that some of the poorest among us will drop through the financial cracks onto the streets. Let us do something about our homeless/street population.

As far as our school children are concerned, here’s hoping that we will see a significant improvement in the after-school behavior of many of our students. The mindless violence and hooliganism that we witnessed this year, and the year before, for that matter, ought to become a thing of the past.  We trust that the authorities will be able to clamp down on the wanton violence, and that counsellors, teachers, parents and the clergy will be able to bring about a change in the mindset of those who are bent on criminal mischief.

In terms of grades, we cannot be happy with some of the CSEC results, especially in the public schools not named Antigua Grammar and Antigua Girls High. The Ministry of Education must take a deeper look at the reasons why many of our schools are underperforming, mediocre at best. We cannot afford to short-change and fail the men and women of tomorrow.

Clearly, while we look forward to 2024 with much optimism and hope, we are cognizant of the fact that there are storm-clouds on the horizon, and that many are the challenges that will inevitably confront us – water, roads, infrastructure, rising prices, and so on and so forth. We must needs be prepared.

May the Almighty help us.

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