Flying high with dogs
I had a whale of a time performing at a New Year Gala in St Kitts and Nevis last weekend. But look here nuh, I connected through Miami on a flight carrying about seven passengers travelling with their dogs. Yes peeps, I've never seen so many dogs on a plane before. And some a dem all up inna first class!
Well, when the plane landed and I entered the Robert Bradshaw International Airport immigration hall, I can't tell you how glad I was to join the shorter line for 'residents and CARICOM citizens'. The much longer 'visitor' line had too many tourists and dem dogs yah. And in case yu neva know, me fraid a dog. Plus, some of the tourist dem may have been equally afraid of me!
Seriously though, I also couldn't help reflecting on Federation the failed attempt at fashioning a Caribbean nation. Established with the aim of creating a political union among its members, the short-lived Federation was made up of 10 countries: Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Dominica, Grenada, Jamaica, Montserrat, the then St Kitts-Nevis-Anguilla, St Lucia, St Vincent, and Trinidad and Tobago. But it was fraught with problems, like disagreements over policies. And some of the countries, especially big bad Jamaica, were unwilling to give up power to the Federal Government.
Ironically, we were the wealthiest country in the region at that time, and resented the prospect of subsidising and supporting the economies of those struggling smaller islands. Some Jamaicans also disliked the idea of the Federation's capital being in Trinidad and the first premier being Barbadian.
So we held a referendum. One of our major political parties supported the regional solidarity idea and campaigned with the slogan 'Jamaica yes, Federation yes', while the other party said 'Jamaica yes, Federation no'. The 'no' vote won and Jamaica opted out. Trinidad's PM Eric Williams, at the time, famously said that 10 minus one equals zero, as they followed suit and pulled out. And the Federation crumbled.
If it had been allowed to continue, the West Indies Federation would be 60 years old now. As I ponder that, I'm contemplating the fact that compared to the other nine countries, our dollar is now the weakest.
And those several Jamaicans who now get deported from, or turned back at, the airports in Barbados and Trinidad every year, did their parents/grandparents vote yes or no in that Jamaican referendum?