Two educators make passionate plea for societal changes that demonstrate independence

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By Latrishka Thomas

As the 38th Anniversary of Antigua and Barbuda’s Independence draws nigh, there is widespread discussion among residents on the state of affairs in the twin island nation.

One such intense discussion took place yesterday on OBSERVER AM when noted architect and lecturer, Colin John Jenkins, and teacher, writer and women’s’ rights activist, Zahra Airall, were asked to share their wish lists in relation to the country’s political independence.

As Jenkins spoke fervently about several matters that concerned him, he said that first on his list would be “greater political maturity”.

“We need more robust debate on the issue, not just throwing talk or throwing jabs; actual debate,” he said.

He also highlighted the need for more stakeholder involvement and true transparency which he emphasised by saying: “transparency is about time; timeliness of the transparency. Not to say you’re looking into it; you’re dealing with it and two years after you still have nothing.”

He also called for increased self-dependency, greater care for our youth and elderly and for policies to be based on research.

Meanwhile, Airall, while impassioned with an appetite for change, said that although she is not xenophobic she is “very, very saddened by the fact that Antiguans Barbudans are not displaying the national pride that we see from our brothers and sisters from Dominica and Jamaica and Barbados.”

 She made reference to a few historically significant and indigenous practices of the small islands, namely the Antiguan quadrille, the Mocko Jumbie, or the John Bull. “When last have you seen one on the street?” she queried in reference to the latter.

Furthermore, the activist, who has always been a proponent of gender equality, included that topic on her wish list.

She said that she yearns for the Antiguan and Barbudan society to be more developed to the point that “when you go to make a report at the police station, they are not asking a woman ‘what you did to anger a man?’… that they are not asking a man if he’s a punk for coming to report a case of sexual or domestic abuse”.

“I would love to see Antigua return to a place where every person feels safe walking down a dark road; where we show up and we are filled with so much pride we don’t think that we need to have our children outside of Antigua and Barbuda,” she said.

Lastly, she added: “young people [should] have a say without being ridiculed; without that slave master fear of being ridiculed; and that we can actually hold our politicians accountable because when a politician is going to tell me that he is just a face for a party, you have no business being in politics. You have no business sitting up there in that Ministry that you are sitting in. Antigua and Barbuda’s 38th Anniversary of Independence will be observed tomorrow, November 1st, 2019 under the theme “Embracing our national pride.”

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