“Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be silenced and the whole world held accountable to God” Romans 3:19

The CBET Enterprise Development activity brings me into contact weekly with younger entrepreneurs across a wide spectrum of business activity. It is educational, at least, but it also exposes me to the real world of social, economic and political behaviour, not to speak of business challenges, which I find to be extremely stimulating. I regard it intellectually, emotionally and physically as the “Elixir of Youth” which induces peace of mind. If I can succeed in combining this with systematic control of diet and exercise, then for what more should I ask?

I had a bit of a realty check this week as I visited the NIS office to register a yellow form sent to me in the mail. I automatically filled it in but as I was checking the information required one last time, my eyes caught the title of the form “Old Age Pensioner Registration”. There was immediate psychological damage done which I hope will be repaired for a long time yet by the Elixir of Youth and its companion panacea.

One prospective entrepreneur www.caribarts.org, last week shared with me as follows: “Hi Basil, a friend sent this to me, thought you might be interested …Here is an eZine by Francis Wade that many of you may find very informative www.fwconsulting.com… The Accountability Challenge: The Making or Breaking of Caribbean Corporations.

My first fascination was with the “eZine” concept and I rushed to “Google” its meaning. It was simple – “Electronic Magazine” which has hitherto failed to find itself in my vocabulary. This column has been an eZine for over 13 years and I never used the term. My research of this eZine wonder, in the emerging world of electronic commerce, now opens up a new vista of possibilities.

Wade observed the following: “There is not a company we have worked with in the region that has not complained about its lack of bench strength i.e. the lack of qualified managers waiting in the wings to be promoted. While there are many managers with the necessary technical qualifications, they lack a certain profound ownership of their own performance, let alone the performance of the company.

This prevents them from being able to step up to higher positions in which they are asked to produce difficult results under trying circumstances, without anyone being able to tell them what to do.

Instead, they have managers who are more interested in staying out of trouble, doing the minimum, not being taken advantage of, and caring only that their personal results are good enough for the next raise. They give excuses, manufacture explanations and create reasons for poor performance, when what is really needed is solid leadership that is willing to own negative and positive results alike. In short, there is a level above which they cannot be trusted to be accountable.”

Wade went on to say that “what many executives do not fully comprehend is the hundreds of years of hostile worker-manager relationships they have inherited. A great deal could be said about the effects of slavery, indentureship and colonialism, and there is truth to the claim that workplaces in the region, and employees in particular, were deliberately stunted by the first European managers.”

Following the email from the prospective entrepreneur, almost in harmony, arrives another email this time from Ambassador Charles Maynard from Dominica: “Hi Basil, I am forwarding you a landmark publication on the issue of a runaway slave with all its implications for our history and culture. With the continuing emphasis on Slavery by UNESCO and the rest of the world I think this is timely. I have read through the book Pharcel: Runaway Slave by Alick Lazare published by iUniverse, Inc. and with no exaggeration I consider it a masterpiece.” Alick Lazare, after a career in Public Finance, is planning to launch this book in Dominica on August 23rd 2006.

Pharcel looks at the other side of history, from the African perspective, and tells of the motives and aspirations of the runaway slaves in Dominica about the turn of the nineteenth century, and their constant battle against the oppression and greed of white colonial society.

Maynard reported that Pharcel is an historical novel that brings into play the politics of slavery, revolutionary fervour, sexual exploitation, inter-racial love, personal loyalty and betrayal, brought together in a gripping tale that will hold the reader’s attention and interest. Bernard Wiltshire described it as “a fast moving, gripping read, full of excitement and action that leaves one feeling that we have it in us to reach for the stars, to triumph over ourselves, to transform our limitations.”

I only had time to read the first two pages, before writing this column, but if this sample is indicative of the style of what is to come in the rest of the book, it is likely to be a treat. In addition, I understand from Charles that there will be lessons learned to help us further understand and address the challenges which thwart our efforts to effect the transformation to sustainable development. Lessons in the art of accountability, ultimately to God.