Independent, together

The mood of TT’s Independence Day will be different this year. There will be no parade, no pomp, as part of the consequences of the pandemic. It’s not the only annual event to fall under the axe of covid19 limitations on groups.

Hosay has been an unusual commemoration this year, the drums offering up a soundtrack at night for a spectacle that remains invisible. That seems to be the way our celebrations will proceed for the foreseeable future.

The cancellation of fireworks will not only offer no reason to congregate in the Savannah, it will bring relief for the people and animals who cared little for an orchestra of explosions that caused fatalities among terrified creatures. The fireworks show is certainly a spectacle, but it’s time to either insist on noiseless fireworks or to host the event at a location which will not endanger the health of people and animals.

A mature nation should balance more carefully the need to celebrate our independence with the health needs of helpless animals and vulnerable people. With restrictions limiting gatherings and good sense suggesting quiet contemplation as the best way to mark the importance of this occasion, there is much to consider.

It’s been 58 years since we chose a path free from the guidance and the limitations of the British crown. The circumstances of 2020 demand that we take responsibility, on a personal level, for our future as well as those of our families and loved ones.

As the nation approaches the close of the sixth decade since collectively taking responsibility for our own future, there have been measurable gains and losses. There is still much to celebrate in what the nation has achieved in that time, even in this troubled year.

Against the backdrop of the tubulent elections in Guyana and an aftermath that dragged on through months of legal wrangling, TT held an orderly election, despite wrangling over aspects of the election and the opposition’s differences with the government’s handling of the pandemic. Last week, the new Parliament broke tradition to sit immediately after its ceremonial opening to deal with emergency legislation to manage the ongoing crisis, in a mature response to a grim reality.

The country marked the 30th anniversary of the attempted coup by the Jamaat al Muslimeen this year, and the discussion and introspection of the event continues an effort to reconcile and understand the issues it raised. It is to the country’s credit that three decades later, it remains sui generis, an unforgettable experience to those who lived through it, but distant history to a new generation.

TT is still very much a young nation, but we have experienced enough to understand our current challenges and to confidently and intelligently continue to embrace the responsibilities of self-governance.


"Independent, together"

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