Deputy Consul General Sehon Marshall. (Photo: LinkedIn)

The views expressed herein are those of the writer and do not represent the opinions or editorial position of I-Witness News. Opinion pieces can be submitted to [email protected]

DIPLOMAT:

– An official representing a country abroad; a person who can deal with others in a sensitive and tactful way.” — Oxford Dictionary online

– “A person who represents his or her country’s government in a foreign country; a person who has skill in dealing with other people.” — Merriam Webster Dictionary online

Introduction

It is evident given the above definitions taken from two of the most reputable online dictionaries that a diplomat is not just “any person” representing a country abroad. Based on both definitions, what is critical is the type of person that is chosen to partake in such representation. It is essential that a diplomat possesses exceptional interpersonal and communications skills and is sensitive in his/her approach to dealing with others.

On Sept. 11, 2014, I read with great interest the popular online publication I-Witness News and the comments attributed to Sehon Marshall who is reported as being considered for the post of Deputy Consul General to New York. Given the large Vincentian community residing in New York and the significant remittances sent to St. Vincent and the Grenadines from that state I would believe that this diplomatic post is of critical importance in the Government of St. Vincent and the Grenadines’ efforts to support and collaborate with Vincentians in the diaspora.

Consulate functions

According to the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations 1963, the treaty which governs consulate relations between independent countries, to which St. Vincent & the Grenadines is a signatory, consulate functions include but are not limited to:

– protecting the interest of the sending state and its nationals (both individuals and businesses) in the receiving state within the limits permitted by international law;

– furthering the development of commercial, economic, cultural and scientific relations of the sending state in the receiving state and promoting friendly relations between them;

– issuing passports and travel documents to nationals of the sending State, and visas or appropriate documents to persons wishing to travel to the sending State;

– helping and assisting nationals (individuals and businesses) of the sending State.

Based on the functions outlined above, one may conclude that a diplomat, especially at the level of Deputy Consul General, would have access to sensitive information that would require confidentiality and good judgment on the part of that individual. The Deputy Consul General would also be expected to gain the confidence of nationals living in the diaspora so that these persons may without fear or embarrassment take their complaints to the consulate office and receive the necessary support.

Diplomatic blunder

Turning now to the comments attributed to Mr. Marshall, it is reported by I-Witness News that during a recent radio programme the prospective diplomat stated that since the Unity Labour Party (ULP) took office in 2001 Vincentian teachers, policemen and nurses stopped migrating to the United States to “babysit people children or walk people dog”. I had an opportunity to listen to a live recording of the radio programme where Mr. Marshall pointed out that he can call the names of some of the said people who migrated to take up these “less than illustrious jobs”. Mr. Marshall continued by stating that these migrants “can’t even afford a passage home” and have failed to do much in terms of self-improvement.

The thrust of this article is not to determine whether Mr. Marshall’s comments are accurate or inaccurate but rather to examine the comments made and see if they coincide with someone who has the attributes that are desired of an effective deputy consul general. From my perusal of social media and the blogs, it is evident that some Vincentians, both at home and in the diaspora, took offence to the statements made by Mr. Marshall and have labelled such as anything but tactful. I share similar sentiments, especially after listening to the recording. Vincentians living in New York will have to go to the consulate office to conduct various types of business and it is important that they do not shy away from doing so because of any anticipated shaming as a result of their occupations.

Some persons are of the view that Mr. Marshall has a right to express his opinion especially since they believe that his comments may have some merit. Persons who share this line of thinking are missing the critical point. As someone who is being considered for such a post, Mr. Marshall would be expected to possess certain skills and qualities that would deem him to be diplomatic. I suspect that Mr. Marshall’s comments may have negatively impacted relations between the office of the Deputy Consul General and the community that he would be responsible to serve if appointed.

I have heard numerous times throughout my young life that the effect one’s words have on others have less to do with what the message is and more to do with how the message is conveyed.  Based on my assessment of the recording, Mr. Marshall’s comments were quite insensitive and seemingly designed to degrade those Vincentians, who, like many others across the globe, left their home country in search of a better life for themselves and their families. The same migrants who send back remittances in the form of numerous barrels and monies to their relatives and friends in St. Vincent and the Grenadines to assist them in meeting their day-to-day needs. I do not know Mr. Marshall personally, but judging from his comments he seems to view those migrants he spoke of in a less than favourable way because of the bold and courageous choice that they made to migrate from their homeland to become “nannies” or “walk people dog” in a foreign country to ensure that their children can have better opportunities and a better life than they did.

No more room for error

Given the controversy that surrounded the former deputy consul general to New York, Mr. Edson Augustus earlier this year, I am hopeful that the Government, which is fully aware of the critical role of this office in protecting the interests of nationals in the receiving state, will be cautious and measured in their appointment of any future diplomatic posts. Mr. Augustus’ departure from that post came about when he was recalled by the Government of St. Vincent and the Grenadines for involving in “activities outside the scope of his employment and inimical to the interest of the Consulate General and the Government and people of St. Vincent and the Grenadines”, according to a release from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. To avoid further embarrassment to the nation as it relates to the calibre of individuals that are selected to these posts, the government must ensure that they do their homework this time around. It is in the best interest of the Government and people of St. Vincent and the Grenadines not to get it wrong with yet another diplomatic appointment.

I conclude with this powerful quote by the late great American author and poet Maya Angelou:

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

DA

The views expressed herein are those of the writer and do not necessarily represent the opinions or editorial position of iWitness News. Opinion pieces can be submitted to [email protected].

10 replies on “Sehon Marshall was undiplomatic!”

  1. Joshua Richardson says:

    A Diplomat/Ambassador is expected to do the right thing not condone, cover up nor assist in unethical and illegal activity. Your post contradicts itself.

  2. Thank you!

    I am living in New York and waiting to see if the Ministry of Foreign Affairs will go ahead with the appointment of Mr. Marshall.

    I also walked dogs to augment my salary. It is called an honest living. Mr. Marshall is out of his mind and place to belittle and embarrass the hardworking nannies and dog walkers from SVG.

    The same nannies and dog walkers make monetary contributions to both political parties and packed barrels for SVG when the trough passed. Mr. Marshall seems not to see the long lines at Money Gram offices in SVG. He does not see the amount of barrels coming from the dog walkers and nannies every Christmas.

    To the Vincentians that are trying to validate what Marshall said, I do hereby say to them “you are a bunch of hypocrites!!”

    Having a BA or MA does not make one better than another or an intellectual, Mr.Marshall seems to have joined those with the “class mentality” in SVG. One thing he needs to understand is that when the nannies and dog walkers join other riders on the New York subway, they intermingle with doctors, lawyers, et al, and one cannot tell who is a nanny or doctor.

    Please tell Mr. Marshall to enjoy the good life in SVG. He is not fit to represent me, the honest dog walker.

  3. You can always say it doesnt matter if his coMments were accurate or not but the man telling the ********** truth. Ah lie so dem nah dey up dey some a dem fraid fu come home cause dem nah go ha nutten. Now i dont matter diplomat or not the man speaking raw truth.

  4. The selection of such a person for a diplomatic position is a clear indication of the quality of the person who selected and approved him.

  5. This Marshall guy is really something else. Does he realize that he is talking behalf of a Labor party? A party that is suppose to promote honest labor in all forms? These guys don’t even know what they are trying to accomplish with SVG. New York is a very different place than Vincy EH. And after sexy pastor you all want to bring this guy to NY.

  6. Asante Khamau Njiaa says:

    this is again another unbalanced view on the comments made by Mr. Marshall,his words are taken totally out of context especially when the subject is taken into consideration. i see obviously no reason why he would willfully discredit his own people.he was simply stating facts to highlight a point.Then again why deem him unfit for the post when he was not even functioning in that capacity when the comments were made.Ironically it is this very same lack of openess when it comes to this subject that has caused alot of our people to make poor decisions on migration.
    the can is open now lets deal with the worms.give the man a chance to serve, only then should he be criticized in regards to the diplomatic post.

  7. Comrade Ralph, I respect and appreciate your passion for young people who excel in various academic fields and I also applaud your commitment towards facilitating this process. However, not everyone who excels in academia is wise and prudent and Mr Marshall has proven that wisdom is not a part of his repertoire. As you mentioned in your press conference, Mr Marshall possesses what you deem to sometimes be a “sharp tongue”. As a man who seems passionate about his spirituality and no doubt is very versed on the Bible, you should consider the numerous warnings the scriptures give about the tongue.

    To be honest, I am an advocate of forgiveness and giving second chances but when situations are critical, though you may forgave, there is simply no room for second chances. Speaking as someone who has supported you politically since UPM when “up full” was the word, I think you have worked too hard and accomplished too much to allow people like Mr Marshall to ignorantly bore holes in your political structure, especially at such a critical time when elections are not too far off. Mr Marshall may be a party faithful and may very well have a lot to offer but i IMPLORE you, consider Mr Marshall’s “miss speaking” as an early sign of a pending disaster and put him to use elsewhere. Seek a diplomat who knows how to be diplomatic.

  8. Big youth and others are contradicting themselves. How could Big youth be one for forgiveness and he doesn’t want to give second chances. Clearly you guys are not christians. Do you guys know the Lord’s prayer? That prayer states in part…”and forgive us our trespasses and we forgive those who trespassed against us. If you are unforgiving then you are heartless, base and wicked. Jesus said to a group of men who brought a woman who was caught in the act of adultery. He said “.let him without sin cast the first stone”. You have have thrown your stone. Are you without sin? Have you ever criticized any one? speak bad things about them? criticised the government when you should be praying for them.
    I agree with Asante Khamau Njiaa who says: ……”.this is again another unbalanced view on the comments made by Mr. Marshall,his words are taken totally out of context especially when the subject is taken into consideration. i see obviously no reason why he would willfully discredit his own people.he was simply stating facts to highlight a point.Then again why deem him unfit for the post when he was not even functioning in that capacity when the comments were made.Ironically it is this very same lack of openness when it comes to this subject that has caused a lot of our people to make poor decisions on migration.
    the can is open now lets deal with the worms.give the man a chance to serve, only then should he be criticized in regards to the diplomatic post.”
    The gentleman deserves a chance. If he fails to carry out his duties then we should criticise him, then, not before. Are we not trying to use the toilet tissue before we use the toilet. If we smell something stink it doesn’t really mean that it is sh*t. I rest my case.

  9. Gersham Alexander says:

    He that is without sin let him cast the first stone. We open our sordid ‘literate mouths’ at times to criticise others. We want to have the government recall Sehon Marshall appointment. The reason is that he said that some Vincentians in the diaspora are not ambitious and have made little or no progress in life. Fact or fiction? I am living in the diaspora but I am not offended. How could he be considered undiplomatic if he is not even a diplomat.? We. doctored and tailored the comments, made by Sehon, to prove our points. We are so gross and damn wicked. We go to church. We say we love God. But we are still wicked. Big youth, who is afraid to reveal his true identity and hides behind this pseudonym, said in a contradictory statement that he is one for forgiveness, but Sehon should not be given a second chance. Everyone, of you, needs to revisit the Lord’s prayer which states in part..”and forgives us our trespases as we forgive those who trespassed against us. Jesus said if we do not forgive others then our heavenly Father would not forgive us.We have condemned the brother and are making negative statement about him ourselves and yet we accusing him of the same thing.We are a bunch of hypocrites. what a world? What a people? I rest my case. You people are too petty.

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