Burofocus Consulting Bureau

The Catalyst Project

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Building a Nation: Ethnicity vs. Nationality

Dr. Nilda Arduin, 1999

While ethnicity, according to the dictionary meaning originating from a specified racial, linguistic, or other group, establishes personal identity and/or a sense of belonging to a specific group, nationality refers to the existence as a nation; a stable historically developed community of people with a territory, economic life, distinctive culture and language in common, forming a society under one government.

Nationalism is that patriotic feeling, the policy of national independency that is developed or exists when the people living in a certain territory form a nation. Nationalism should not be confused with anti-colonialism, anti-imperialism or a feeling of them versus us. Nationalism is a collective social-psychological condition which should distinguish the people of Sint Maarten as a nation on its own.

Let's pause and think. As a people on its way to statehood, are we promoting ethnicity, or are we encouraging a sense of belonging based on nationality? I believe, that a healthy sense of personal identity (ethnicity) is a must, the basis for developing island wide consciousness of our nationality.

Who am I, where do I come from, why am I here, are questions which each one of us have to answer; followed by questions like: do I belong, or want to belong to this community? If yes, how can I (belong and) contribute, not just materially but more so spiritually, intellectually and emotionally to this community, which from now on I will identify as, and call MY community. And believe me, it won't be too long that Sint Maarten will be well on its way to become a (new) nation.

"I am from here", being born in Aruba, Curacao, Anguilla or elsewhere will then no longer be the norm, because this group is (by that time) long outnumbered by the "born here" second and third generation of immigrants. The norm will then be a sense of social consciousness, that patriotic feeling of belonging, of caring for and safeguarding a healthy environment for all, of wanting to protect and defend your territory, because this is your home, this is our nation!

Sint Maarten wake up, let's face the reality, before we have to experience the gruesome effects of a reality which we were not willing to face. I am a Sint Maartener by choice, and I am prepared and willing. Are you?