ST. VINCENT: – Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves will on Oct. 20 launch his 397-page autobiography, “The Making of ‘The Comrade’: The Political Journey of Ralph Gonsalves”, his second book this month.
The book will be launched with a panel discussion in Kingstown, with Barbadian jurist Dr. Richard Cheltenham as guest presenter.
Gonsalves will launch his autobiography after returning from a trip to the Middle East.
He told supporters of his Unity Labour Party (ULP) at a rally in Stubbs on Thursday, Oct. 7, that he completed the monograph in four months and was inspired to write it after six young persons, ages 18 and 19 visited him.
“And, as I spoke to them, I realise that when we came to office, they were just nine years old, and there are many things they don’t know about the Comrade. There are many things they don’t know about those of us who were born immediately after the Second World War, much less to those who were born before. And the journey we have travelled from plantation system and British colonialism to independence. How we have moved to this region and what are the connections between us and the rest of the region and the world,” Gonsalves said.
Gonsalves, a lawyer and former university lecturer, said he has been a political activist for 42 years, explaining that his “journey” began on Oct. 16, 1968 when he was president of the student body at the University of the West Indies in Jamaica. (Go to the homepage to subscribe to I Witness-News)
He said he led a demonstration of several thousands in Kingston after the then government, “in an act of unfreedom and arbitrariness”, prevented Walter Rodney from returning to Jamaica.
He said many persons were beaten and tear gassed and the university was locked down and surrounded by the military for two weeks.
“And, I quietly made up my mind as a 22-year-old young man that I will put my bucket down among the Caribbean people and more particularly the people of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, the land of my birth, and to give to them, the benefit of my knowledge and my experience and commitment to bring decency to public life, freedom, deepening democracy, to help to wipe out poverty, to provide education for everyone, health, housing, development. And those things, which moved me as a 22-year-old youngster, they move me today, 42 years later at 64 years of age. And this is my journey and this is the journey of our people,” Gonsalves said.
Gonsalves also launched “Diary of a Prime Minister: Ten days among Benedictine Monks” at a prayer breakfast in Kingstown on Thursday, Oct 7.
“Today has been a long day for me but I feel renewed like an eagle. You know why? I am filled with the joy of the people and the spirit of Almighty God,” he told party supporters at the rally in Stubbs.
In August 2005, Gonsalves spent then days of “reflections, rest, and prayer” at Mount St. Benedict’s monastery in Trinidad.
“I went for communion with God. Every one of us, however strong we are, you need to take some time off to reflect and think about yourself in relation to what you are doing and with your maker,” he said at the rally.
Gonsalves said that he initially wrote the diary for his children, rather than for public consumption.
“I wrote it for my children because I want to leave for them a legacy to show them how their father struggled with a number of important personal and spiritual questions,” he said. (Follow I Witness-News on Facebook)
He said he decided to publish the diary based on the suggestions of his daughter Isis –who was 15 at the time of the retreat – his wife Eloise, and a friend.
“And, here it is, published for people to read, to understand their leader better, to know who he is and so that you would be able, with confidence, to make reasonable predictions as to how he will conduct himself in any circumstance,” Gonsalves told party supporters.
Abbot John Pereira of Mount St. Benedict was guest speaker at the launching while Methodist minister Rev. Victor Jobe of St. Vincent reviewed the book.