Dickson Igwe for CaribDirect

Contributing writer Dickson Igwe

Politicians in the Virgin Islands frequently misread the public mood.

This story is part of a series on the political pulse of the country at Mid Term.

An editorial in the print media of September 19, 2013 was headed, ‘’ BRANDYWINE MEETING: A ROCKY START.’’

The story highlighted a fact of Virgin Islands politics: that Joe Voter must be happy with any proposal put forth by Julius Caesar, for that proposal to get the public acceptance that ensures its successful implementation.

The editorial alluded to plans for transforming a natural and large saltwater pool, fed by the Caribbean Sea, into something super commercial.

Ok, a pristine piece of geography on the Virgin Island of Tortola is called Brandywine Bay. Brandywine Bay, in this Beach Boy’s opinion, is a natural phenomenon: a still body of seawater that is so, probably owing to a large reef sitting on the outer part of the bay’s seafloor, at the gateway to and from the vast outer sea channel. The reef acts as teeth, mouth, and throat, of the bay.

Brandywine Bay. Photo courtesy www.ultimatebvi.com

Brandywine Bay. Photo courtesy www.ultimatebvi.com

This is a coral formation that establishes a separation between the waters of Brandywine, and the outer sea. The reef further acts as a type of filter, bringing a calming effect to the bay’s waters.

The unique curve of the bay’s two peninsulas may also be a factor in the stillness of the water. These peninsulas essentially cup in the water of the bay.

The result is this: the waters of the bay remain calm all year round making the bay a natural pool. There is a clear distinction between the peaceful and tranquil waters of Brandywine Bay, and the vastly greater, and more volatile body of water of the outer sea channel.

The seafloor at Brandywine is carpeted by ocean type grass or seaweed. It is not as friendly to the bather’s or swimmer’s feet as say Cane Garden Bay or Smuggler’s Cove.

Yes, Brandywine Bay could be converted into a swimmer’s delight. But the sea bed, which is quite gravelly, and monotonous, will have to be transformed into a snorkeler’s paradise. And that can only be done through investment in sitting undersea structures on the sea bed that convert the bay into an artificial reef; and further doing some underwater work equivalent to landscaping.

How this is done: only the experts can assess. And that will clearly require an oceanographic or marine type study, and an environmental assessment.

Tourists and travelers who visit these Virgin Islands expect great snorkeling, even greater swimming, and a pristine beach experience, as part of the vacation package. Brandywine does not offer these pleasures at optimum presently.

So this swimmer, snorkeler, and conch shell diver, appreciates the public’s caution on the matter. The public is frequently right about things.

Transforming Brandywine will also mean a full time crew, keeping the beach pristine. Brandywine Bay, despite sitting in a majestic location, is not necessarily a beautiful beach, and anyone trekking the sands there will soon understand it is a rather stodgy affair, when compared to say, beaches such as the two Long Bays, to the east, and west, of Tortola and Beef Island.

Of course, this can be fixed by pouring extra layers of white sand on top the current layer to provide the vital cushioning that will be required by the discerning BEACH COMBER.

In any event, much more thought needs to be given to the Brandywine proposal; albeit, it is the closest beach to the cruise ship pier capable of handling a large number of guests.

So this Layman accepts the proposition of bay transformation for commercial purposes: with a caveat, that it is done within the requisite environmental protection parameters, and that the beach remains fully accessible to natives and locals, unlike what appears to be happening elsewhere.

This brings the matter to another related stream which asserts that natives and indigenes of these West Indies cannot be pushed out of their natural habitats. Pushed out, albeit very subtly and discreetly, by the super wealthy, who buy up islands, islets, cays, bays, beaches, atolls, and the waters that surround these natural formations.

Nanny Cay Village. Photo courtesy www.obmi.com

Nanny Cay Village. Photo courtesy www.obmi.com

Yes, wealthy investors are welcome. But they cannot be allowed to block the access of the native and local population, and residents, to these pristine resources gifted by deity.

Preventing access to beaches, and the bays and seas that surround private islands and islets, affects the quality of life of Caribbean indigenes negatively.

The only no go areas for natives should be those with security considerations, such as the perimeters of private dwellings, and those living quarters such as hotels, villas, and resorts. But even with these, no individual, no matter how rich and powerful, should be allowed to block access to any beach or bay area, and the waters that wash any part of these paradise islands.

One great example of a super wealthy and benevolent investor is the owner of Nanny Cay. This investor has allowed natives to access the beach there, and even some of his facilities.

Nanny Cay serves as a great example of a socially responsible, and community friendly business. The other Jacks could learn from Nanny Cay’s, JACK THE BENEVOLENT. Nanny Cay serves as an excellent business model for FOREIGN AND COMMUNITY FRIENDLY INVESTMENT.

Yes, this Small Island Man will whisper into the ear of Jack the Billionaire that wealth and power come with social, moral, and humanitarian obligations and considerations.

Wealth and power are privileges yes, but they do not grant absolute control over the planet’s resources. If they do, then this is tantamount to a new tyranny driven by silver and gold. And a tyranny just as ugly as that established by the sword and cannon.  It will be fought against by this islander, and all with a stake in the islands’ and regions’ natural providence.

To be continued