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To the editor:

Bob Marley sings in his Redemption Song, “Emancipate yourself from mental slavery/None but ourselves can free our minds.” This factual sentiment is wonderfully reflected in Washington Archibald’s article, “The Backward Tie,” which was printed in The Observer On Friday, 16 May, 2008.

I completely agree with him that it is absolutely ridiculous that men in the Federation – and indeed in the wider Caribbean – should continue to wear neckties and jackets in sizzling temperatures, joyfully emulating the dress codes of their former colonial masters. Surely Caribbean fashion designers could design other alternatives to ties and jackets, and penguin-like formal wear tuxedos.

The shirt-jack, for example, is a commendable alternative. On those rare occasions when Denzil Douglas of St. Kitts and Vance Amory of Nevis (and others) wear shirt-jacks they look elegant, distinctive, independent of mind and exude the innate pride of Caribbean men. They courageously reject “mental slavery.”

“Mental slavery” is also personified in the Caribbean by the retention of colonial-imposed wigs in legal and parliamentary bodies. It is also manifested in describing elected and appointed officials as “the honourable” or “right honourable” so-and-so. Is it not time to eliminate such descriptions?

Was Tony Blair, the former Prime Minister of Great Britain, ever described or introduced as “the honourable Tony Blair?” Or is the current Prime Minister of that country ever described or introduced as “the honourable Gordon Brown?”

The Federation of St. Kitts-Nevis celebrates its 25th anniversary of “independence” during 2008. Partial independence or total independence?

Washington Archibald states, “Although we seem to have made progress in some of the vital areas or our existence as a people, we are not fully enjoying the full taste of that progress. We are tied to our masters’ past. We still live with our masters’ nostalgia for the past and like mindless servants, we wait patiently for the master to return to his ascendant position at the head table. In the meantime we dress like brides adorned for the wedding.”

So Bob Marley reminds us, “Emancipate yourself from mental slavery/None but ourselves can free our minds.”

Lloyd Hezekiah

St. Kitts-Nevis

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