About FRANKLY SPEAKING
Beach Access: An Opinion
Resident Tourism Policy
Paralysis by Analysis
Oil Refinery - Facts or Fiction?
An Oil Refinery for Dominica? - Part 2
A Place Called Home
Annual Awards Gala - DHTA
Dominica Cabinet - 2010
Thanks But No Thanks
The People's Business
Politics of Water
Message in a Bottle
Between the Lines
The 24/7/4/12/5 Campaign
The Answers Within
Foreign Direct Investment
CSME - Where now?
"En Brera" - No Choice
Closure of OECS, Ottawa
Does Size Matter
Growing DA's Agriculture
A University of Dominica?
Made In Dominica?
© Frank Watty
A Place Called "Home"
The American novelist, Thomas Wolfe, is well remembered for two works on the themes of separation, nostalgia and a return to one's roots. In "Look Homeward, Angel", he celebrates the healing that results when the errant native son returns and is re-connected with his boyhood associations. In contrast, "You Can't Go Home Again", is a lament for missing faces, vanished places, past times and lost experiences that cannot be recalled, revisited or relived.
These two sentiments haunt most persons who by choice, chance or circumstance have had to live far from their ancestral home. For them, Re-Unions can be bitter-sweet. Sweet, when those endearing flickering emotions of love for home and country can be fanned into flames by a return visit. But bitter, when it is realized that the recollections and experiences of the past no longer exist, nor can be returned to life.
The decision to leave one's homeland for a foreign place is seldom an easy one, no matter what alluring or romantic visions one might have had at the time. In some cases, had conditions at home been more favourable then, the decision to emigrate might not have been taken. Indeed, and few will contest the assertion, emigration continues to provide a release valve for the pressures of unemployment, the thirst for personal and career advancement and a vent from potential social unrest.
Having left, as the record shows, considerable benefit accrues to the "homeland" through remittances, support for deserving causes, shipment of goods and material, local investments and various preparations for a possible future return. Only recently have some Caribbean states come to capitalize on the tremendous development potential that exists among their nationals abroad. That recognition has for years been fuelling accelerated growth and development in countries such as Israel, the Phillipines, Ireland, India and Mexico to their great competitive advantage. Indeed, policies in many such countries are focussed not only on first generation migrants, but even more on the second generation offspring who possess all the accoutrements of their progressive places of residence.
Four primary strategies have been used to take advantage of these potentials:
The manner in which these objectives are addressed is a matter for public policy following widespread explanation and public discussion. Obviously, there are a number of perceptions and even objections that will stand in the way of the emergence of such forward-looking policies. The benefits must be real, measurable and defensible. Not to embark on such programs might well doom poorer countries to a continuing legacy of a begging-cup diplomacy, of always following in the wake of more forward-looking countries, of never being able to leap the technological gap that separates the haves from the have-not countries, of being unable to take advantage of the level playing field that globalization in all its features potentially affords.
The steps to achieving these anticipated benefits require the establishment of at least the following steps:
RE-UNION '08 requires us all to engage in a meaningful and well-intentioned discussion of what these and related initiatives might mean for our homeland and how we might design a workable platform for the journey forward together if Dominica is to fulfill its true destiny.
Nationals who return home to celebrate our 30 years of political independence should do so with hopeful minds ready to make their contribution in the most positive way. A welcoming reception with ideas on how these contributions would be supportive of a national agenda on where we are and where we are going would greatly assist individuals in their private decisions.
At the same time, returnees must realize that the torch is passing to a new generation whose experiences and aspirations may be different from their own. In its own way, this new generation is changing the physical and social landscape of the nation in ways that are new and different and with which returnees may not always agree. "Home is where the heart is" goes the old saying, and if we all truly hold Dominica high in our hearts, there are no practical differences that cannot be reconciled.
There may be areas in which compromises may be difficult, if not impossible---honesty and civility in public life; discipline and hard work in private life; self respect, respect for family, the elderly and the disadvantaged; highest professional standards always; and, a balance between things material and spiritual.
In "looking homeward" with anticipation, let us temper the nostalgia for the past with the reality of the present even as we search together for new solutions that might lighten the journeys of tomorrow. Our continuing responsibility to those who have gone before requires nothing less.
The writer, W.R.Franklin Watty, a Dominican national, is a professional economist, land use planner and tourism consultant. He is a former economist and planner with the Province of Ontario; and, the former Director of Planning and Transportation for the Regional Municipality of Waterloo, Ontario, Canada. In addition, he has served for twelve years as a professional adjudicator,mediator, negotiator and arbitrator in the Ministry of the Attorney General, Government of Ontario. He is currently retired from the Public Service; is the Principal of FRANK WATTY CONSULTANCIES INC., economic, land use and tourism planners; and, is Adjunct Professor, School of Urban and Regional Planning, University of Waterloo. He can be reached at email@example.com