In this post, Lynn Sweeting calls attention to the achievements of Lelawattee Manoo-Rahming (otherwise known as Asha), who is featured in Anthurium Vol 4 No 1. Lynn also, quite rightly, laments the fact that Asha wasn't one of the writers who went to CARIFESTA.Lynn's post made me think, and rethink, the concept of selection, of representation, of nationality, and the nature of my job. I don't think it's my place to go into specifics; there are some things that shouldn't be expressed on a personal blog. But I'm finding that there are certain decisions one makes that one would ordinarily disagree with. On the other hand, one finds out that one's private opinions are not always relevant â€” a strange fact, but true.So I'll try and be general here. How do we collectively decide who represents our nation? When we choose people to send abroad to represent us, what criteria are foremost? And do we use different criteria for different arenas? In sports, for instance, aren't we more forgiving than in culture? How many people we might ordinarily classify as "Jamaican" or "Haitian" have held, and hold, medals for us in the sports arena, and how many of our major sports heroes hold Green Cards or even American passports?Because I find I agree with Lynn; Asha is ours. She is Bahamian, woman, poet, and good. Could she represent our nation in an international festival? Should she? What criteria should we use to pick? And who should decide? Should people who occupy positions of responsibility be guided by the collective will, or should they try and direct that will â€” or perhaps a little bit of both?I'd better stop writing now. But I'd be interested to see what others think.Edit: for those people who aren't aware, here's some background on Asha Rahming:
Lelawattee Manoo-Rahming was born in Trinidad and lives in Nassau, Bahamas. An artist, poet, fiction writer as well as mechanical/building services engineer and part-time lecturer, she has published poetry in several magazines and anthologies in the Bahamas, the Caribbean and London. She won the David Hough Literary Prize from The Caribbean Writer(2001) and the Commonwealth Broadcasting Association 2001 Short Story Competition. Her first book of poetry, Curry Flavour (2000) was published by Peepal Tree Press.