#Providenciales, June 28, 2019 – Turks and Caicos – I was born in the 1970’s in the capital island of Grand Turk, a time when my country was the third world of the third world. Those born before me and around that time would understand what I mean. There was no running water. Drums and water cisterns held our water, and we accessed this water using buckets. Our baths occurred in small tubs and if you were fortunate, you were the first or the second person who took a bath in that same water.
We had limited electricity in our homes, 3 TV channels (and 2 which didn’t work) and an antenna on the roof that had to be positioned at the right angle to make it work. Our food was cooked some days on a cold stove by my grandfather who’s intentions were really good but didn’t rescue us from the fact that he never learned to cook until much later in his life. We walked barefooted as we only had a single pair of what was called our “GOOD SHOES”.
I can also recall some days attending primary school without shoes. For fun, we played marbles, went fishing, ran behind horses, donkeys, goats and chickens, played with a bicycle tyre or wheel and pulled a klim can.
With all that said it was surprisingly a good life. No worries or concerns and we were at our happiest with what little we had. Then my mom decided to study in New York in the mid-80’s. As an only child, she took me with her. A new place in the big city!
At first I asked, how could she take me from my good life in my third world home and force upon me a strange life in the concrete jungle? But wait, the concrete jungle was actually better than my home! We had running water and good food. I mean who would turn down New York style pizza and Burger King? Chinese food to die for? We had access to the latest toys, video games and fashion and my TV had all 12 analog channels. I was living my best life.
This is the point at which I started to hate my home. How could I have been born in such a place? A place so harsh, so dissolute and so backward? I asked God why did He do that to us? Why would you place my ancestors in such a place and made life so hard for us? Why couldn’t I be born and raised in the US and not know about such a place called the Turks and Caicos, which none of my classmates in New York knew about and wasn’t even on the world map to show to them during geography lessons?
Imagine trying to explain something that does not exist according to the latest world map at that time? I was the laughing stock of the class.
My mother finished her degree in 2 years and my time in New York came to an end and it was time to return to my home. But home to what? As far as I knew, nothing had changed. I knew that the conditions were the same. “Home sweet home,” as it is so gloriously stated.
I returned home and could not wait for the day I could escape again return to New York to live for good. But something interesting happened. My presence on these isles made me fall in love with my home all over again. The saying that one must be “in the room” in order to appreciate the experience sounds true when it comes to the TCI. I did not want to live in any other place on this earth.
I was indeed fortunate enough to return to New York for college and I would captivate audiences with my stories of a place no one in the room knew about. A place so geographically close to the US but it seemed so far in the minds of my audience. I returned home knowing that I had a contribution to make to a developing country. A country that gave me a scholarship, which helped me achieved my goals. A country that I thought could be the best country in the world.
Fast forward to today, I have watched my country develop tremendously in my life-time and become my concept of New York to so many people. However, my recent concerns lie with the answer to the question, for whose benefit has this country become so developed? Who is currently out there reaping the benefits of the best country in the world? Certainly not its home-grown people! Certainly, not the descendants of those whose backs were broken by whips and wounds treated by labouring further in salt! Certainly, not the people who remained and called this place home before the world even had a glimmer of its possible existence!
The question which arises is, why? Why haven’t and why shouldn’t the people and their descendants who first loved and cared for this place when there was nothing to gain be the first to benefit from their country’s development?
In Jamaica, the Jamaicans benefit from their country’s growth. In the Dominican Republic, it is the Dominicans who benefit before anyone else. In Cuba, the theory is that the Cubans benefit alone. Even in Haiti, with all its turmoil, it is still the Haitian who benefits where there are benefits available. In America, the American benefits. In Canada, the Canadians benefit.
Why is it that in Turks and Caicos the Turks and Caicos Islander has no benefit to look forward to? Why is it that the first harvest of benefits are seemingly distributed amongst everyone else other that the native person with the native person left to graze the field with the hope of collecting any fallen residue?
My fellow Turks and Caicos Islanders, when will we wake up and take back the control and enjoyment of our country? When will we work together and do the things that we need to do to put our people first? When will we put our differences aside and focus on us, our children and our children’s children?
It appears that we are the only group to be falling behind as the country moves forward. We are very close to becoming 4th Class citizens any day now in a country which is rightfully our own! Those foreign to our shores already look upon us with disdain and many of us can relate to stares and frowns, within our own home, which question our very right to exist, let alone our right to benefit first.
A colleague suggested to me that writing this article would amount to a waste of time because all Turks and Caicos Islanders are aware of the problems I write about, yet no one will seize the opportunity to take action. What will we do, at this point? ABSOLUTELY NOTHING! And this absolutely nothing will lead to our further demise. I am not oblivious to the fact that taking action will create discomfort.
However, history teaches us that sometimes we need to become a little uncomfortable and seriously restless in order to recognize and aggressively pursue the opportunities and benefits wrongfully withheld from us and routinely exploited for personal gain by those entrusted with the power to govern on our behalf.
I write with the hope that my colleague would be proven wrong. I write this as a call to action. A cry for justice. A summons to every Turks and Caicos Islander to join hands and to fight for our country. What’s at stake is bigger than your party affiliation! Let us do what we need to do to secure a future for our children. Let’s put our differences aside for a time and fight for the greater good. A cause much bigger than self. Are you ready? I know I am.
Today, I will ask my people to sign a petition as one united front to have our Constitution restored as per the recommendations in 2015. To restore the constitutional power to the people we elect to represent us. This is the start that we need for a brighter future. This is not a PDM or a PNP issue or problem. The problem affects all of us who live in the country. Let’s show the world that we can unite and operate at a level bigger than politics and set our country on the right foot to prosperity.
Our goal is to get enough signatures from the voting population of the country that the powers that be will give the people of this country a referendum to decide if they want their constitution restored or not. LET’S RESTORE THE POWER BACK TO THE PEOPLE ONE SIGNATURE AT A TIME!!!
Anyone interested in helping or volunteering with this cause, please contact me on (649) 232-3382 or email me at Malcolm_Deveraux@Hotmail.com.
Release: Malcolm Deveraux