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STILL OUR ISLAND IN THE SUN?” – The Anguillian Newspaper – The Weekly Independent Paper of Anguilla

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by Tyrone Hodge

“This is my Island in the Sun, where my people have toiled since time began, I may sail on many a sea, her shores will always be home to me. Oh, Island in the Sun, willed to me by my father’s hands, all my days I will sing in praise, of your forests, waters, your shining sand.” ~ Irving Burgie.

Those words made popular by Harry Belafonte, should mean more than just being a song made famous by one of our own. James Baldwin, an American laureate, coined the phrase: “If you know from whence you came. There are absolutely no limitations to where you can go.”

One would think that we in Anguilla, having known from whence we came, would have an entirely different perspective on life. Sadly, that doesn’t seem to be the case. It hasn’t been for quite some time. An article in this paper, entitled: “Our Five Star Destination: Anguilla or the Resorts,” caught my eye.

And while I was somewhat shocked that the person chose not to identify himself/herself, I wholeheartedly agreed with what was said. As the saying goes, someone who had the balls to call a spade a spade ought to be commended.

As Anguillians, we are famous for throwing stones and hiding our hands. I want the author to know that given the current litigious atmosphere in Anguilla, where if you open your mouth just to ask a question of our cowardly thin-skinned politicians, you will be SLAPPed—a tool that’s used to silence and intimidate their critics. Is that who we are? That we can’t even ask a question without fear of being silenced? We couldn’t wait for the change. This is ridiculous, SLAPP being utilised in Anguilla. My – how times have changed.

It is true that Anguilla, once the darling of the rich and famous, is still that, but most of the patina has faded. We are still the preferred watering hole of the well-heeled. A visit to our faux international airport on any given day will attest to that by the number of private jets parked there. Our five-star resorts are second to none, our culinary arts are tops, our azure blue waters and white sandy beaches are second to none, and our most precious resource, our people – in terms of hospitality deserve a king’s ransom. In other words, when it comes to resorts, we are simply the best. When it comes to our ow, now that’s a different kettle of fish.

So, one can understand the problem that the writer has with the flip side of the Anguillian who caters to the Champagne Wishes of the tourist, but once outside of the resorts, an entirely different scenario emerges. It’s as though someone ripped the bandage off a festering sore. One doesn’t like what comes out.

One then must ask: how did we get to be so bad so soon? What happened? Perhaps a little history is needed to put things into perspective, to understand how we got to this point, so bear with me. As I said earlier, to know where you are going, you must learn from whence you came, a variation on Mr. Baldwin’s assertion. I can go a step further and quote the Cheshire Cat from Lewis Carroll’s “Alice in Wonderland,” who said to Alice, “if you don’t know where you’re going, any road will take you there.” Do we know where we are going?

From our inception, we were an island, a people that time forgot. In his book, “An Overcrowded Barracoon,” V.S. Naipaul said of us: “For more than two hundred years, in fact, no one really wanted Anguilla, or had known what to do with it. The place was a mistake.” He continues: “The Anguillians have lived for too long like a shipwrecked community.”

Left to fend for itself, Anguilla had no industry, paved roads, electricity, piped water, or port facilities. Health, sanitation, and education facilities were grossly inadequate. (Colville Petty).
Simply put, Anguilla lacked the modern conveniences of everyday living, the things others took for granted. Long story short, we had had enough. We told the governor general that, “a people can only live without hope for so long before erupting socially.” “We had written letters to just about anyone who would lend an ear, and all to no avail. Heck, we even wrote to Queen Victoria. The last letter that we wrote was to the Governor General of the Leeward Islands in Antigua, whom we petitioned in 1958 to “make every exertion which lies within your power to bring about the dissolution of the present political and administrative association of Anguilla and St. Kitts.” (Colville Petty).

The article to which I referred, highlights a host of issues that have faced us for the longest while. The writer captures the true essence of Anguilla, who and what we are as a people. We deliver five-star service to the well-heeled tourist who will spend the almighty dollar. However, away from the resorts, a different Anguilla emerges.

We have been at this experiment of nation-building for some fifty-five years, and we are no closer to the goal now than we were when we started this journey.

In his article, “The Role of Cultural Identity in Anguilla’s National Development,” Don Mitchell says that “Anguillian culture changed with the development of upmarket tourism. The Anguillian economy was catapulted from the 19th century into the 21st century, hardly stopping for the 20th century. The result is Anguilla’s modern socio-political culture is new and unsettled. There has not been enough time for binding conventions and new social structures to develop. Anguillian culture may be said to be essentially that of a Frontier Society, unsettled, shifting, brash and unruly.”

Be that as it may, the sixty-four-thousand-dollar question becomes, who is to blame? Why is it that our people behave one way toward the tourist, but when it comes to us, the locals, they treat us with scorn? Could it be that we got too much too soon? In his book, “Where There is a Will, there is a Way,” Petty said that the Wooding commission concluded that the reason for our rebellion was “the disability of having no political responsibility. When the Vestry was disbanded, the people had no opportunity to learn politics.”

So, there you have it. We didn’t have a chance to learn anything because everything was being done for us, and now we are expected to behave in a certain way. The British failed to introduce us to the principles of good governance, and yet they have high expectations of us. Once again, we were left to make it up as we went along, and yet they expect us to conform to principles that we were never taught. We, Anguillians, have been spoiled. We walk around with the “I born here chip” on our shoulder, and therefore I’m entitled.

Our anonymous author has brought Anguilla’s ugly little secret to the forefront. We have lots of issues. We don’t like it when someone calls us out, even if that someone is one of us. This is the opportunity for us to take stock, stop the petty bickering, and engage the people. I’m speaking to the government now – stop being a stuffed shirt.

Anguilla is described as “Tranquility Wrapped in Blue”. Our moniker that once stood for something other than our azure blue seas, sandy beaches, culinary arts, and wonderful people, now represents something of a more sinister nature. Today, we mirror Charles Dickens’ “A Tale of Two Cities.” One Anguilla caters to the Rich and Famous, and the other treats its own with scorn.

It is said that a fish rots from the head. So, on whose head do we place the blame for the quagmire in which we now find ourselves? After all is said and done, can we still claim Anguilla as our “Island in the Sun?” We have lots of work to do. Let’s thank our friend who wrote the article and calling our attention to a festering sore. Till next time, may God bless us, and may He continue to bless Anguilla.



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Anguilla

KYLE HODGE COMMENTS ON THE GOVERNMENT- ANGLEC SAGA – The Anguillian Newspaper – The Weekly Independent Paper of Anguilla

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Mr. Kyle Hodge

In a radio interview on Klass FM on Thursday, 15th September, the former Minister of Economics Trade and Commerce, Mr. Kyle Hodge, was asked by DJ Hammer to share his views concerning the situation between the Government and ANGLEC.

DJ Hammer had made reference to a statement posed by ANGLEC’s CEO, Mr. Sutcliffe Hodge, which follows:

“Over the last couple of weeks, Germany has made available about 65 billion Euros to assist their citizens in coping with high cost of electricity. Over that past weekend Holland has announced that they are also assisting their citizens in a similar way to deal with energy costs and food. The United Kingdom also decided that they are going to be capping off the cost that their citizens would have to pay for their utility bills.

“ANGLEC, in Anguilla, has been trying to play Government [in this regard]. We have said, no, we cannot pass on the full cost of the fuel surcharge to our customers. We are now sort of getting penalised for that because Government is now saying to us that our liquidity may be at risk. Therefore, we have to rethink and see whether we should pass on the full surcharge cost to the consumer, and then the Anguilla Government and the British Government would need to come up with some way to supplement the electricity bills for Anguillians.

“We are experiencing that for us to be kind and compassionate to the citizens of Anguilla, we are putting ourselves at the risk of been taken over by the Governor. This is a real issue.

“As a consequence, I am in discussion with the Board right now and I am letting them know that we can no longer play compassionate, because to continue doing so, we may have to turn over the keys to Her Excellency the Governor. And that will hit our citizens hard if/when the British takes over ANGLEC.”

Former Minister, Kyle Hodge, responded: “That was a very sobering statement by the CEO of ANGLEC. Around the world and across the globe, Governments are taking measures to help their people who are struggling through these difficult times.

“The cost of fuel has skyrocketed lately. The fuel surcharge should be $1.00 plus, but our people cannot bear an increase at this time. Like the CEO said, ANGLEC has been playing Government over the years. Added to that, is the issue that ANGLEC is unable to collect the debt owed to it by Government.

“Over the years, Government has been involved in ANGLEC’s business. From time to time, they would recognise that there is a need to keep the fuel surcharge at a certain price point, because the consumers, in general, cannot afford an increase. ANGLEC has been shouldering that burden at 70 cents, when it should be $1.00 plus. The question is, for how long can ANGLEC afford to keep the fuel surcharge at 70 cents?

“If Government cannot come at the table and offer a solution for paying off some of the debt that is owed to ANGLEC, then ANGLEC will have no choice but to raise the fuel surcharge.

“I have recently heard the Premier say that administrations of the past have ignored the debt that the Water Corporation owes to ANGLEC. But that is the past. We are living in a time when, presently, ANGLEC cannot afford to be owed so much at this point.”

When asked what should be the way forward, Mr. Kyle Hodge said: “The way forward is simply for ANGLEC and Government to sit together as grown people – and as leaders of this country – and hold talks with a view of resolving the issues. This should have been done even before the Governor intervened.”



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Anguilla

EVERYONE HAS A STORY PART 2! – The Anguillian Newspaper – The Weekly Independent Paper of Anguilla

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by Mrs. Marilyn Hodge

Everybody has a story. Do you believe it? Is it true? Are you ready to share yours? Or are you too embarrassed to share it?

Here is a story that someone felt embarrassed to share. It is about a country preacher by the name of Mr. Jones who used to visit a widow in his church. Mr. Jones liked to visit her around lunchtime because she had a vegetable garden and she loved to cook fresh vegetables for her pastor. One day the pastor arrived at lunchtime, and knocked on Mrs. Jones’ door, but she did not answer. So, he walked through her garden calling, “Mrs. Jones! Mrs. Jones!” He was perplexed because the back door was open and he could see and smell the food cooking on the stove, but he did not see Mrs. Jones. Knowing her sense of humour, he left his card on her door with this note: “Dear Mrs. Jones, Read Revelation 3:20.” That verse says, “Behold I stand at the door and knock and if anyone will hear my voice I will come in and eat with them.”

What the pastor did not realise was that about the time he showed up, Mrs. Jones was getting out of the bathtub, and she was too embarrassed to answer the door, so she hid behind the door until he left. After reading the pastor’s card, she wrote him a note and left it on his desk the next Sunday. It read, “Dear Pastor, I got your card. Read Genesis 3:10.” It states, “I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked, so I hid myself.”

Did that story make you chuckle or even smile? What do you think about that story? What would you have done? If you were Mrs. Jones, would you have answered the Pastor when he called? Well, there is a similar story to Mrs. Jones’ story that is found in the bible. Do you know that story? Who was the story about? That was Adam and Eve’s story. It is a great story; they were the most popular couple in the world. Their story has many valuable lessons for us:
1. God doesn’t force us to follow Him. God tells us what is good and bad for us. He has given us free will – meaning, we are free to make our own choices.
2. We must be familiar with Satan’s tactics. One of the best ways to defeat Satan is to understand how he works. If we know his evil devices, then we are better equipped to know how to overcome them.
3. Sin separates us from God. Adam and Eve were placed in a perfectly good environment. They enjoyed a close relationship with God, however, the moment they disobeyed, their disobedience caused a rift between God and man.
4. We must put our trust in God only. Some people would rather put their trust in people, things, and beliefs, than to trust in God, but God knows what is best for us.
5. Covetousness is dangerous. It starts with the mind, so we must be mindful of it.
6. We cannot hide from God. He knows everything about us. No matter where we are or whatever we think or do, God knows.
7. We must take responsibility for our actions and cease blaming others. Our actions always have consequences.
8. We must listen and be obedient to God, His commands are for our benefit and our protection.

Do you see the reasons why it is important for us to share our personal stories with others? Do you understand the valuable lessons our life stories can offer? We will never know whose life will be touched or changed by hearing them. By sharing our experiences, we will not only create an impact on other people’s lives – they could help us feel empowered as well. When we find our voice, we can be ambassadors of our life circumstances instead of victims. We can show the world life is worth fighting for even though it is hard. It will also show others that they are not alone in their struggles.

Not all of our stories have to be sad or depressing. Share the ones that make people laugh or smile or inspire them to take action in their lives. We also need to share all the good that life offers, and the awesome work God has done and continues to do in our lives. We live in a society where most of us are struggling with so many things but very few are willing to come forth and speak, so our stories can be that catalyst to encourage them to share theirs.

We all have a story within us – about love, courage, endurance, heartache, pain, trust, loss, and everything in-between that others are waiting to hear. Tell them, even when it is challenging.

Even when it feels like the most difficult thing to do, telling your story – with all its mistakes, failures, setbacks as well as its victories, joys, and successes – says something about what it means to be human. By telling our stories, we release ourselves from those things that bind us and give rise to an opportunity for us to connect with others.

Remember: Your Story Is Your Own. What’s done is done. What’s gone is gone. One bad chapter does not mean your story is over. It is okay to look back to see how far you have come but keep moving on. Your stories have the power to break down barriers and set people free.

About the Author: Mrs. Marilyn Hodge owns and operates the Wellness Centre in the Farrington, Anguilla. The Centre offers Counselling Services by Appointment Only and has now published Positive Living Volume 3. Contact information: 476-3517 or email: marilynb@anguillanet.com. www.facebook.com/axawellnesscentre



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MORTALITY RATE IN ANGUILLA IS CONCERNING – The Anguillian Newspaper – The Weekly Independent Paper of Anguilla

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Anecdotal evidence over the last few years shows a significant increase in the number of deaths among fairly young and middle-aged persons in Anguilla – deaths that were not the result of accidents, but were still unexpected and due to medical issues.

When you live off island and examine the number of deaths in the immediate environment in which you live and work, you seldom ever hear of people dying at such an alarming rate as you hear about in Anguilla.
In talking about this to some Anguillians who are living overseas. They say that they know very, very few people within their own work space who have relatives or friends that are dying. But here in Anguilla, not a month passes without someone dying who is connected to your circle of relatives, friends, acquaintances or co-workers. That speaks volumes about what is really happening in our small community.

We know what is causing most of these deaths – a wide range of cancers, issues of diabetes, high cholesterol, hypertension and stroke. We also know that a common cause of a number of these deaths is a lack of early detection of symptoms of disease that result in death. This is likely due to persons inability to afford preventive care services, and only access or seek medical care when the symptoms become chronic. If the symptoms were detected early, some of these deaths could very well be prevented or delayed for many years.

If we drill down further, and try to understand some of the possible underlying causes of why our people succumb to these non-communicable diseases, we might notice issues of poor nutrition, use and abuse of alcohol and illegal drugs, as well as high levels of stress.

The government that we have in power today, under the leadership of a medical doctor, promised us going in to the election that health was going to be a high priority – and that this government would address the health challenges confronting our island locally, so that persons would not have to go overseas to seek medical treatment for symptoms and illnesses that could easily be treated in Anguilla.
Here we are, almost two and a half years into this administration, and anecdotally, it would appear as though the number of deaths has risen since the medical doctor was elected to office.

We know that there are some obvious contributing factors to some of the health challenges that we have in Anguilla, and most notably among them is the issue of stress. One could argue that we had the issue of the global economic challenges which led to the failure of our two indigenous banks, followed by the devastation caused by Hurricane Irma, and before we could fully recover from Hurricane Irma, we had the issues of COVID.
Most recently, we had the onset of inflation, some of which was brought on by the war between Russia and Ukraine. Persons in Anguilla have been under an enormous amount of physical, emotional and financial stress where many of them have exhausted their reserved savings just trying to survive during this period of uncertainty. This is something that clearly needs looking into.

One of the things that is also worth noting is that when people are challenged financially, they tend to engage in food substitution where they buy cheaper foods that are often of low quality and of little nutritional value.
Our current Premier is well-positioned to have this looked into, so that the data can be closely analysed and a primary care system can be implemented to better understand how to engage in early detection, diagnosis and treatment. If it is that our people need to improve their nutrition, then let’s address it. But clearly there is a lot of sickness, disease, death, and sudden death, among relatively young people, due to stress and nutrition factors.
There is a need for the issue of mortality to be given some urgent attention. Everybody in Anguilla is talking about it but nothing appears to be done about it. Meanwhile, many of these health issues are leading to a steady rise in mortality among relatively healthy-looking young people.

There is an appeal for the health system to do some investigating and see what can be done to help to save the lives of our people – our younger folks in particular. With all the stressful issues that constantly bombard us here in Anguilla – cost of living, social decline, conflict, etc – Government of Anguilla please, let’s focus on the health and well-being of our citizens as a matter of urgency.

– Contributed



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