Saturday, March 07, 2009

Defend Our Name: Antigua & Barbuda!

I Feel Proud To Be An Antiguan

By Sojourner

What's a name... we ask. A name is a name. But is that really so?

Today I toyed around with other names... I pretended to be Jane, Nicole, Pamella...and they did not seem right and did not feel right! I am not a Jane. I am not a Pamella. And I am certainly no Nicole.

I am Sojourner! I love my name, the sound of it..what it stands for: Truth! And when someone calls me by that name... I feel very proud!

Well, I feel the same way about Antigua and Barbuda! I feel proud to be Antiguan and Barbudan. But when I really look at it, I only recently started feeling this way about the name of our twin island state. Well let's just say I started feeling proud about 5 years ago... And if you think that there is a coincidence that this happened at the time the UPP took office.. Well you may be on to something.

But it is not a coincidence. A coincidence just means that two things happen to be occurring at the same time. Well this aint no coincidence, because, the UPP has a direct link to my feeling proud to be an Antiguan and Barbudan.

I see a government that is respectable. A government where the ministers are respectable... and respectful. And, yes, although one or two of them may have had a few moments of indiscretion... we know that those were just momentary lapses that do not characterize their over-all behaviours and track record.

The other day I heard an old lady saying how good she felt to see the UPP ministers in public with their wives. Now this old lady is in her nineties and she has seen much.... But this minister and family and wife thing is new to her. And she likes it.

I did not even realize how much this meant to people, but just today I heard a young man in his twenties saying the very same thing! How he'll vote for the UPP because they seem to believe in family values more than the ALP. Now when you hear a young man talking about family and espousing values... you have to take notice. And I really feel even prouder of the UPP ministers because they have impacted a young man who is taking notice and is learning some important lessons.

I feel proud when I go overseas and I hear the comments about how the country is now on the right track (right direction too!). Now this is something I think all Antiguans and Barbudans... native and non-nationals take for granted. People in other countries cannot understand how come we seemingly decent people called Antiguans and Barbudans could have put up with indecency and corruption for so long! Privately they say we either corrupt too or we 'fooley'.

I have been to international forums and conferences and heard people from other countries talk about the ALP ministers and government personnel who used to represent us. Apparently, our former representatives, elected, appointed and salaried, would leave Antigua, enter the country where the conference would have been held, but never show up at these meetings... They go on shopping sprees and visit concubines ... or take their mistresses... on state trips which were paid with state resources.

To tell you the truth, I used to feel so ashamed! But when the UPP was elected and took the reins of leadership, my foreign colleagues and attendees at these sessions did a right about turn so fast it made my head spin! When they talk of our country - Antigua and Barbuda - they actually speak without hesitancy - and you can look them in the eye. Yea man... I feel proud. I am proud!

I feel proud... because those international agencies are talking to Antigua again.... Looking at us respectfully again... They feel that they can now trust the government to properly use the monies they either lent or granted us. In fact Antigua is off the black list of all of these international agencies.

I feel proud to be Antiguan and Barbudan because we have cleared off a lot of our debts run up by the ALP. Now I don't know about you, but I hate to owe people. When you owe people, you don't feel right, you don't like to bounce up on them, you tired making up excuses and you always fearful that they come to reclaim their goods (Like Courts & them Syrians), or they expose you and put your name out there in the public. There is no pride in that. So when Antigua and Barbuda paid what we owed to these international agencies, I felt proud. Now, I feel like I can hold my head up and walk in the world.

I feel proud when the Prime Minister said to that rich foreign investor that Antigua and Barbuda is not for sale. And I thank God that Lester and his gang are out of the equation (and will be kept out of the equation). Remember Lester was willing to sell off Antigua in less than the 24 hours that the rich investor gave him to make up his mind. Imagine that! I felt proud when PM Spencer stood up tall and said to local investors that they must respect him and the position of Chief Servant of the people of Antigua and Barbuda. I felt like he was standing up for me. I felt proud. I still feel proud. I am proud!

I feel proud about the many social projects of the UPP... I feel the dignity that comes from a dignified government that brings programs that allow low income people to walk with their heads held high.

I am now imagining how the school children must feel: happy, relieved, normal. Can you imagine a child going to school, with dry bread or maybe with a little butter or mayonnaise daubed on it? Or maybe with some other little thing that the child's mother managed to scrape together? Can you imagine that child going to school now... and having much more to eat - like all the other kids at school? Now that child doesn't have to hide to take out their dry bread daubbed with butter or mayonnaise, or even peanut butter. Now they are eating in style..yes, because they have china plate, and silver fork. Think about it... many children must feel proud.. and very special. Thanks UPP!

And the parents must feel relieved too cause they don't have to worry about providing those meals for their children. Now many of them will be afraid to say this in public or even to think it for fear of being disloyal to the ALP! But I believe that in their heart of hearts... they feel proud too!

And when I see the Public Library... although it is not completed... with all that activity around that important project... I feel proud.

And when I see St. Johns, and the efforts being made to keep it clean and beautiful... cobble stones... beautiful side walks... covered gutters... I feel proud!

And when I see the county pond, especially when it is lit... I feel proud.

And when I visit mount St Johns I feel proud. I only hope that we keep it clean. You know how you keep your things says a lot about you... how you keep your yard, your school books.... etc. I only hope that some bad-minded people don't slice up the chairs or mark up the walls. I hope we keep it in tip top fashion. And if I sound a little anxious forgive me. But you and I know how some people can make party politics get the better of them.

The other day a lady had a difficult time taking a sick child to Mount St. Johns, because she was afraid that her husband would find out that she went up there. Imagine that..Now it is that kind of backward thinking that would make someone scratch up and deface the place on purpose. It is that kind of thinking that worries me... But, on the other hand, I think those people are in the minority. They are not going to stop the show. We will not let them. We are too proud of our nation!

Antigua ah shine. And me proud for be wan Antiguan and Barbudan... And, no! Me no born ya... but you can't tell. Me Antiguan!