The lack of national identity is a key obstacle to the country’s development, says entrepreneur, Jay Bartlett. Bartlett made the comments when speaking in a webinar on the topic, ‘A closer look at Solomon Islands’ with Asia Society Switzerland. Asia Soceity is a global non-profit organization that work on forging closer ties between Asia and the West through arts, education, policy and business outreach. Asia Society Switzerland is committed to exploring Asia’s role in a multilateral world and to advancing the dialogue and strengthening partnerships among individuals and institutions in Switzerland and Asia. The Webinar wants to find out how Solomon Islanders feel about being the focus of Beijing, Canberra, and Washington. The Webinar also asks questions on things closer to home that keep Solomon Islanders occupied among other questions one of which is on how Solomon Islanders see themselves in this archipelagic country. Responding to Simona Grano, who moderates the webinar, Bartlett says not having a sense of national identity does have negative impacts on the country.
Senior Journalist, Dorothy Wickham was another panelist in this Webinar, focusing on Solomon Islands. She also shared the same sentiments as Bartlett. Ms. Wickham says, Solomon Islanders often refer themselves as being from the province they originate from, rather than as a Solomon Islander. Solomon Islands is an archipelagic country with nine provinces (includes Honiara). A vast majority of the population in Solomon Islands come from the rural areas in different islands. Honiara is the melting pot with an estimated population of 100,000. Ms. Wickham says there is no National Dress which speaks volumes about Solomon Islands. She said Solomon Islanders only have the national flag colors of blue, green, yellow and white to identify themselevs as being from Solomon Islands.
Jay Bartlett and Dorothy Wichkam were featured in the Asia Society Switzerland’s A Closer Look series on 23 February 2023. Both shared their insights about Solomon Islands being the focus of Beijing, Canberra, and Washington. Simona A. Grano, senior lecturer at the University of Zurich was moderator of the conversation that lasted almost an hour.