BASTARDISED OR DEMOCRATISED?
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
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.
the celebration of NLW mirror the magnitude, character and quality of their
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
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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