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Tobago Love

"The World needs an enormous number of new Innovators, Change Agents, and Transformers, all dedicated to turning Development in the direction of sustainability. People like you.”
Alan Atkisson

When I was a child growing up, this was a common expression that was used by a few of the kids that cared to tease you for what looked like a timid overture by a male towards a woman that he appear to have some feelings for. It occurred when the male would throw a small pebble in a harmless way in the female’s direction so as to attract her attention. If she reacted positively as expected, then he’ll gather the courage and approach to try and converse and take things up a notch. I am sure that our citizens have progressed a lot since then, although bad habits are known to dissipate quite slowly in countries like ours in the Global South. It was the Birdie that entertained us later with one of his more memorable and humorous Kaiso called “Tobago Girl.” In it we heard about “this old man from Ohioho,”that spent his holidays in Scarborough. He had such an enticing time, and decided never to return home. Threats of immigration deportation, incarceration, Interpol intervention, and if I am not mistaken, castration, as well as the death penalty proved futile against this particular ecstatic foreigner, that became infatuated with our sister isle. Now Sparrow in his efforts to sell records convinced us that this tourist was enthralled by a sumptuous Tobago woman, and this might well be true, but since I have no such concerns – ie. To sell records-I will give you my own version as to why some have become so fixated and have risked lives to be a part of it ever since hearing the fantastic tales from Robinson Crusoe, or Dutch, French, Spanish, British adventurers, and today every European and a few Caribbean islands’ tourist and entrepreneur that happened to drop by.

I have been an ardent reader of the two major national papers Guardian and Express, perhaps since the age of seven, and took every opportunity to take a quick read when I can via the internet during the last few years that I was unfortunate to be away from the blessed country ours. It was however with some disturbing anxiety that I began noticing some developments that were taking place in the sister isle without much concern by the nation as a whole. Desperate nationals from the sister isles were it seemed tempted to callously sell out their lands to foreigners and a few wealthy enough locals on a daily basis. The general consensus in Trinidad where traditional tourism is not much of a priority, and other options of survival exists, was typical, as can be expected. Most from sophisticated big sister was not to encouraging to the squeamish or sensitive ear. It was that Tobagonians are a bunch of greedy, money grabbing, clannish, idiots that are allowing themselves to be duped by these conniving foreigners, content to dangle some dollars in their faces and achieve goals. It was observed that Germans, Italians, Americans, Irish , and car loads of money laden Toyota driving owners from unnamed parts of Trinidad , were scrambling to the island so as to get into this Tobago love feast land grab , destined to make my country into a mini-Barbados, Chile and Argentina if you know what I am referring to.
Rumor had it that a foreigner would come to the island on vacation , pretend to fall in love with a desperate naïve local ,quickly married so as to acquire lands , construct spars and exotic guest houses or others havens for their exclusive uses with limited returns in terms of employment for nationals. I am not sure what ploys our fortunate local land speculators would use for their purposes. In addition, I also heard stories about the cunning Barbadians that have been lurking in our ports stealing our flying fish while eying the spoils of recently derived Canadian oil and gas exploration team in the area. I therefore began asking myself, “is this love, is this love,” in much the same way that Bob Marley asked himself in song. If so I am sure fellow citizens cannot be feeling it, for surely I could not from so far away.

So to get my own feel of developments I decided to finally make a long overdue visit to the place I called home for 16 years of my life and took my biggest 23 year old son for his first visit to the island as well. O yes, what an island! One can sense what people are so thrilled about when it comes to this unspoiled island called Tobago. When compared with Trinidad, Tobago looked as if time just stood still when it came to development and modernity- and for some this is just fine. The people were still the same. They were laid back, family oriented, law abiding, hard working, resilient, spiritual, friendly, trusting, hospitable, and innocent as can be. However, there was a sense of change and dread in the air amidst the entire smile as they welcomed a prodigal son home that many did not see for close to thirty years.
There were now many complaints of increase crimes. Unfortunately to me, but the amusement of my son, most of it was blamed on the influx of folks from decadent Trinidad. Real estate prices were surging through the roof as everyone tried to out do the other with a bigger house – often with retirement funds from families abroad - some in anticipation of future tourist dollars. Fishermen complained of stolen boats, engines, and depleting fish sources. The old and many sick grumbled about the stalled new proposed Hospital, or lack of decent geriatric and home health care. In my efforts to get a locally prepared meal I stumbled upon an East Indian family that sold me a bread and salmon fish, instead of flying fish or shark as I desired. I eventually acquired a curry crab and dumpling made obviously with baby crabs. To compound that a coconut vendor informed me that Tobagonians are now importing coconuts from Trinidad. That was the last straw for me, as I watch in consternation as my son rolled over in a fit of laughter when he observed the consternation on my face over this development and I “sat in my shoes and I wondered,” “Where is the love?”
You can bet that like many others, I too am planning on how I can make the people smile again, when someone can show some real love for the people of Tobago, and not the one I thought that are only reflected around election, Great Race, Crab and Goat race, Tobago Heritage, Jazz Festival, and PNM National Party Conventions. Instead, the kind that is sustainable and can lead to major development like that which exist throughout our entire country, and capable of creating critical jobs so as to regain an independent spirit and dignity.
I knew why Tobago remained stagnant, since or our government cannot think about development due to two reasons. Firstly, it remains in gridlock with our Opposition over pointless issues that allegedly affect the nation. Secondly, it is seeking new lovers across the Caribbean, when tragically, like a delinquent father; it refuses to take full responsibility for its own domestically. I am aware that the uncaring, and politically tenuous Opposition has different agendas, one of which was to ensure that every one of its constituent members become American, Canadian, British, and Australian citizens as they leave the country in droves on phantom disguises, even if it takes the entire UN Human Rights body 99 more years to be convinced of all fictitious claims, and the full tarnish of the country’s reputation in the process. I understood the way the minds of our mainly greedy, and selfish local business class works. They are only fixated on quick profits, do very limited investments, and count the day when they too can escape with every earned or fleeced dollar from the country along with families. As for the foreigners, let’s just say there is work to be done, as many are counting their good fortunes for pouncing on this rather tranquil jewel in the sun that it’s 1.3 million nationals could not
begin to appreciate until they started to make loving overtures ,and business forays of their own into the island. I am committed to staying focus on this island ,primarily because like a few of the astute foreigners I recognize the huge potential and returns that can result from investments of time , energy, and human, as well as others resources. Time I know is of essence, but I’ll continue to shower the love that is deserved and expected to what Singing Francine described in song as “this Paradise founded by Robin Crusoe,” for the returns to our entire country I am certain, can be tremendous.

Trinidad and Tobago News

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