West Indian misconception
NINETEEN months to go before we host the third greatest sporting
spectacle on earth (after the Olympic Games and World Cup
football). Nineteen, just 19 months to go. Absolutely nothing
is in place, but we are all just Mello.
The ICC World Cup 2007 was recently launched at a gala ceremony
at Queens Hall in T&T. The mascot for the series,
a cool cub, with a midriff T-shirt and three-quarter jeans,
riding low on de waist, holding a cricket bat
and ball rather casually in his hands, was unveiled.
Mello, as he is called, is the flag-bearer of our World Cup
and was approved by the ICC.
Mello is extremely cute and may appeal to many children across
the globe on a superficial level. However, the name Mello
and the character itself attempts to portray and perpetuate
the very stigma that has been responsible for the serious
decline in West Indies cricket.
It has also fostered an attitude of subservience, tacit acceptance
of any and all ills across the board in the region, by a disinterested,
demotivated, apathetic people.
While tourism is extremely important to many economies of
the Caribbean, the evils inherent in a dependence on the foreign
dollar to survive surely exist.
We have become a people without an identity. So much so that
we are all ready to celebrate and present to the world a picture
of us, which was in fact handed to us overtly, or subconsciously,
The idea that Caribbean people are laid-back, relaxed and
mello has been handed down to us by the foreign
media for decades. So much so, that we have and continue to
believe that this is in fact so.
This is despite the fact that our children are being developed
within one of the most stringent, dogmatic, difficult education
systems in the world and despite the fact that our manufacturing
sector (regionally) has been constantly growing and accessing
new markets globally and our music and entertainment industries
have been flourishing and competing worldwide.
Despite having some of the highest figures per capita for
lawyers, doctors and other professionals, we still believe
in this laissez faire fallacy propagated by the western media
about our character and resolve.
We are not a population of beach bums. We do not relax all
day, wearing ridiculously coloured, flowered shirts, while
sipping cocktails through straws, under palm trees.
Unfortunately, Mello is being used not only to
continue, but also to expand this perception globally. Some,
may say that I am trying to be overly analytical about a silly
little mascot. Well, this silly little mascot is now the face
of the entire region, from the big business sector to the
vagrants on the street. This is the message being sent to
the world. Is this the message that we want to send?
While it might be great for tourism, as people from the First
World come to spend their almighty dollar in impoverished
little backward islands, which simply could not survive without
their generosity, it is definitely not good for business.
In an increasingly competitive global market, where perceptions
of competitors such as the Japanese, Koreans, Chinese, Swiss
and Malaysians are such that these people are immediately
seen as disciplined, punctual, hardworking and efficient,
this lackadaisical perception further puts the people of the
Caribbean at a disadvantage.
As much of our initial presentations to prospective investors
must first go a long way to dispel the Mello myth,
then, and only then, can we begin to compete. In many cases,
Caribbean companies, regardless of competence, are not even
given initial consideration because of this very same laid-back
There you have it, 19 months to go, the region as a whole
is optimistically 35 per cent ready. Right here in T&T,
members of the LOC are resigning. The Government is insisting
on placing all its focus on constructing a practice ground
on an oilfield. The interchange will not be completed by March
2007. Brian Lara is not being allowed to play cricket. Maybe,
Mello is the best, most apt portrayal of our people?
Maybe, we are a bunch of lazy, unsophisticated, unintelligent,
unmotivated beach bums? I dont know, you tell me!
Send Comments to www.spalksman.com