When Past Meets Present

fort shirley2012-fort-shirley

The world around us is constantly changing. What we saw and knew as children has either completely changed or undergone some level of evolution. We ourselves have changed. We no longer see ourselves, homes, communities and countries in the same manner. We begin to question what we held as the ‘norm’ and wonder if there were any absolute truths. All these changes force us to reevaluate how we think and feel about life, our community and the place of it all in the wider scheme of things.

Coming from a developing country I am faced with the undeniable truth that many of the ills of my nation stem from years of colonial rule. My nation’s economy, and social and financial systems were created to benefit a foreign power which invested no more than was necessary to furnish itself with what it required to jettison its own progress into the future. At the time of independence, we were given little opportunity to properly set the foundations for the reshaping of our fledgling state into our own likeness.  This was compounded by the fact that few really knew or understood what independence meant for our survival as a people; and the handful who did were educated within the walls of our colonial masters. And so  the visions 0f the masses and those of the elite were quite different and more often than not irreconcilable.

Yet if we, the citizens of this developing world, are honest with ourselves, we will recognise that some of today’s travails are the result of our own complacency and lack of direction. So caught up were we in the rebellious atmosphere of the day that we sought only to foist the blame of our underdeveloped state unto anther’s shoulders. We languished many years simply blaming colonialism and later globalisation, for the stagnation of our economy and the lack of ‘first world’ luxuries in our lives. But even as we cursed the imperialists, we have raised them on a pedestal, idolising the very things we claimed kept us in bondage. And we did this by giving greater weight to the opinions and visions of foreign nations than we give to our own thinkers and philosophers; propelling us through a game of ‘tag’ where our elusive prize is the lifestyle of the exterior.

This all brings us to now, to my generation. Through all this we are left to wonder: How should we feel about it all? Should we go on finding a scapegoat and ignoring the value of our land while salivating over the milk and honey of another? Do we allow anger to build and consume us for the wasted years of our country’s history? Do we nurture the old colonial mistrust and cynicism towards the actions of the developed and the elite? Our do we accept it all and become the system, finding our niche and exploiting all we can from a system we either hate, mistrust or feel indifferent towards?

How should I, as a child and citizen of a developing nation feel about the injustice of having to correct the mistakes of my fathers when those very fathers refuse to give weight to any contributions a young, inexperienced individual has to offer? How should I feel about new challenges facing my nation caused by the excesses of those who have made it their life’s duty to take all they can without thought for those from whom it is taken? How should I feel about a system which constantly reminds me that I am not as good as someone or something else? How should I feel about a world where my financial background and place of birth/citizenry determines the opportunities given to me and the manner in which I am treated? How should I feel about those who judge me on their own misguided, bigoted and narcissistic terms?

I have found that there is no right or wrong way to feel or handle the situation which we from the developing world face. We all have to make our peace with the past and determine for ourselves how we will approach the present and future. We may struggle with our demons for the duration of our lives, or we may find a way which lays them to rest. But one thing is certain, this constant battle will only be won when my generation has found a means of reconciling both past and present and situating itself in the grander scheme of things.

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