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Thursday, January 12, 2017


Perhaps, my views on National Laureate Week (NLW) might be considered elitist, traditional or even retrograde; it may even be considered as radical and ill-formed.  I don't mind. I simply want the event to reflect the “quintessence” of the Sir Arthur and Sir Derek.

Both honorable men are known to the world for their pursuit of academic excellence; Sir Arthur is known for his contribution to the growth of knowledge in Economics and Sir Derek for his contribution to the growth of literature.

Shouldn't therefore the celebration of NLW mirror the magnitude, character and quality of their contributions?

Perhaps, the “festival” terminology used may be what is referred to as a “terminological inexactitude”; but whatever it may be, we seem to have a demonstrated propensity to “festivalise” our events for commercial or political gain.

Let me be clear: I'm not against Festivals! They are part of our cultural and religious landscape and we celebrate many of them; but my view is, not every event should be converted or subsumed under the festival umbrella.  The NLW is one of them. I'm of the firm view that it should be differentiated from the rest as a distinguished event with a world-class “character” and an “academic” orientation and that reflects purity, beauty and the quintessence of the subject celebrants.  

Consequently -  and as a mark of respect for them - NLW should assume a high-end “university-type” orientation designed to involve and attract academics, students, lecturers, professors, teachers, writers etc with a view to simulate interest in the academic disciplines and the pursuit of academic excellence. In other words, it should serve as a platform to inspire academic excellence. Hence, the orientation to excellence should be central to it and should not be lowered to the “festival” level (as I perceive it) to the point where it may become at risk of degenerating into a “block O”.

I anticipate the countervailing view that “festivalising” NLW is an attempt to democratize it so as to make palatable to the general. Theoretically, the rationale for the view may be excellent. Perhaps, the democratization of the event may well present an opportunity to make the work of Walcott and Lewis universal. But the question is: is the festival the most appropriate starting point for the universal appreciation of the work of our Nobel Laureates?  Will the staging and production of Omeros in all quarters of St. Lucia develop an appreciation for Walcott? How do we present the largely academic work of Sir Arthur to the general? I can understand doing so through the school curriculum in the long term; but I have difficulty doing the same through a “festival”.

Another issue may well be lack of information on the festival nature of NLW. Perhaps, it may well be the way forward but that sufficient information has not been put out there for public consumption. Perhaps, the information will eventually leak and we will get to know the details.

Just in case you have not got my “flow”, let me iterate that I'm not preaching exclusion or exclusivity in any form. Ideally, I would love every St. Lucian to develop a substantive appreciation of the works of our Nobel Laureates. I'm simply saying that we should try and maintain a character and orientation to excellence for the celebration to the point where it assumes a “Lucian elitism” that would potentially attract a certain regional and international clientele to our shores. We have enough festivals to play with; let's elevate NLW above the festival level.

Additionally, if we want to "festivalise" NLW, then let's remove the Governal-general from it.

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