“Oh Dominica, the land of beauty, the land of verdant, and glorious sunshine” the music of the Siffleur Montagne belts from the speakers of my vehicle and I cannot resist the urge to increase the volume, sing along and do what little grooving I can in the circumstance. It is October and the spirit of Dominica has been awakened. Dominica became an Independent Nation on the 3rd of November 1978 and annually, the celebration of this auspicious occasion begins in October and climaxes on the 3rd. There is something about this time of the year that draws the Dominican spirit out of most and even when one tries to resist, the sweet Dominican music; folk or cadence, pulls at the heartstrings and love for country ignites action in nationals. Fabric stores are flocked by women on the first step to the creation of traditional and other versions of creole wear, while others reach into their closets to bring out their Wob Dwiyets, jupes and other creole variations that had been stored from years past for the Friday display of national wear. The men also don National wear but do not exert as much energy into the preparation as do the women. During October, the sound of the Tambal, Bamboo Flute, Shak- Shack, Accordion, and Gwag reverberates and blends with voices as the national dances are performed in the different districts, and there is also the anticipation of creole day and its abundance of Creole delicacies. It is at that time of the year’s that this year’s Independence theme; “My Love, My Home, My Dominica”, aptly chosen, is often embraced and touted.
This year we celebrate 40 years of Independence. We were able to cut the colonial umbilical cord and over the years we crept, walked, fell and bruised our knees, staggered upright and walked again and just when we thought we were getting steady on our feet, we fell again. It has been just over a year that we woke up in disbelief at the injury inflicted by Hurricane Maria to Dominica. Some of the scars are still visible in many areas, but we cannot deny that there has been a level of healing. We must accept that we are still in the rehabilitation stage, but total recovery is possible with time, resources, skill and determination. If one reflects on the theme of this year’s Independence celebration; “My Love, My Home, My Country”, it will be obvious that this is a call for renewed love and ownership of country which, hopefully, will translate to responsibility for the country. Simply put, genuine love for anything or anyone often translates to care and attention for that thing or person, and when there is a sense of ownership, the effort to care for and attend to doubles or increases tenfold.
Dominica is ours to care for and build. In times of distress, many will come offering a hand but the responsibility for country is every Dominican’s. The wearing of National dresses, consuming of national foods and participating in cultural song and dance are symbolic gestures of love, but what we must gift our love with is attention. We must begin to keep her clean, abstain from cutting too much of her forest down and when we must cut, we should find a way to reforest to preserve our land and water supply. We should refrain from polluting her waters, for her water sustains her and us. If we embrace Dominica as one would his or her “love”, our actions will be testament to our respect for our love, and we will be rewarded with a home that will be the envy of many.
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