NDP leader, Arnhim Eustace. (IWN file photo)

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].

Mr. Arnhim Eustace has again shown that he is not a thinking man with his promise to convey on every Garifuna throughout this Western Hemisphere honorary citizenship in St. Vincent and the Grenadines. It is appalling that Mr. Eustace in his desperation to be elected Prime Minister would attempt to exploit any and every issue without consideration to the consequences of his actions.

The Garifuna people are said to be an interbreeding of West Africans and Kalinago (known as Carib Indians). According to the history, in 1675, a slave ship coming from West Africa ran aground off the coast of St. Vincent and the Grenadines and the Africans made it to St. Vincent where they intermingled with the Kalinagos. According to Dr. Hillary McBeckles in his book “A Case for Reparations”, the Kalinagos were welcoming to these Africans. However, eventually there was a fall out because the Africans were said to be misogynistic towards the Kalinago women and that brought tension and hostility between the groups that may have resulted in the Kalinagos aiding the British in capturing the Garifuna and banishing them from St. Vincent in 1779. They were first taken to Baliceaux and then finally to Roatan in Honduras where they migrated to other places.

The Garifuna people have a historical connection to St. Vincent and the Grenadines as any black individual has a connection to West Africa. According to paleontologists, all humans have a historical connection to Africa for that matter. Paleontologists say man migrated from Africa throughout the entire globe. However, we know from history that people settled in different parts of the world and some of these people were forcefully and brutally removed many generations ago. During Britain’s tenure as superior power, they transferred all sorts of people all over the world. For example, they brought Irish people to Barbados during the 17 Century. They took Indians to Africa during the 19th Century. They took our African ancestors from West Africa and brought them to the New World in the 17th Century. This is just something that happened during history whether one thinks it is good or bad is certainly irrelevant to the fact that it occurred.

We cannot go back in time and fix history. It has already happened. I have my ancestry DNA test that shows that I am related to individuals from Nigeria, Sudan, Ghana, Portugal, Wales and Ireland. However, that does not entitle me to make a demand on these countries to give me citizenship. A citizen of a country is generally an individual who was born in that country or was naturalised through the legal process. To give credence or value to Mr. Eustace’s plan, we should all be seeking to become citizens of West African countries where our ancestors originated from. No one is denying that the Garifuna people have a historical connection to St. Vincent as I have a historical connection to Africa or Portugal. However, it is a preposterous idea to want to give citizenship to over 800,000 individuals that were born in foreign countries simply because they had an ancestor that had a historical link to that country.

Mr. Eustace obviously has not considered the socio-economic and cultural impacts that this sort of action will cause. The majority of these individuals are from Spanish-speaking countries that have different customs and practices than the average Vincentian. Is Mr. Eustace thinking about the relationship between these two distinct groups of people? Vincentians who share the same culture find it difficult to get along as it is. We see on Facebook everyday where there are serious cuss competitions going on where Vincentians lack the ability to communicate and collaborate with each other. How in God’s name are they going to communicate and collaborate with these descendants of Garifuna people that are foreign born?

Mr. Eustace’s actions have proven that he is grossly irresponsible. That he would act in such a capricious manner without giving complete thought to the consequences that would be incurred due to his action shows that he is not a competent and responsible leader. If Mr. Eustace is playing a political game to hopefully score point and become elected, this would be deemed the lowest of the lowest in Vincentian political history.

Helena R. Edwards

Mount Vernon, New York

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].

12 replies on “Eustace grossly irresponsible with promise to foreign-born Garifunas”

  1. Helena, with all due respect you really are misleading the public by not mentioning that what is proposed is honoree citizenship. No one has ever said anything about full citizenship.

    All the crap that Gonsalves spouted about 800,000 coming to SVG and taking our jobs and houses, is just that crap.

    What you write above and the way it is written perpetuates those ULP lies and inuendos.

    Helena you really must be more careful with your research.

    rgds

    Peter

  2. C. ben-David says:

    1. “Honourary citizenship,” a title routinely given to heads of states and other prominent people, is not the same as real citizenship. You should not conflate the two to score some cheap poliical points.

    2. How many Garifuna would even want to come home to live, if they were granted full citizenship? SVG is a place people try to escape from, as your residence in America proves, not migrate to in the thousands.

    3. Unlike the black people throughout the Americas, most of whom maintain a shallow and tenuous sense of being “Africans,” the Garifuna have very strong symbolic, emotional and religious ties to their ancestral home in SVG akin to the ties of diasporic Jews to Israel.

    Why would you want to deny, minimize, or erase these ties?

    How many black Vincentians take it as a compliment when you call them Africans, or even displaced Africans? The Garifuna are very proud of their roots here, as their many visits over the years has shown.

    How many black Vincentians (or Americans) have visited Africa or even have a deep longing to do so?

  3. C. ben-David and Peter I agree with both of you. Moreover I find Ms Edwards somewhat confused. She seems to apply the statement that she makes with reference to the colonial movement of peoples to the specific case of the exile of the Garifunas – “This is just something that happened during history whether one thinks it was good or bad is certainly irrelevant to the fact that it occurred”. So, presumably we should do nothing to recognize the inhumanity meted out to these indigenous inhabitants of these islands nor honour their sacrifice. Would she apply a similar laissez faire attitude to everything that happened “during history” – including slavery? If so, I am awaiting her critique of Dr Hilary Beckles’s and Dr the Hon Ralph Gonslaves’s campaign for reparations for slavery.

    Moreover, the USA, where I think she resides, is made of of people who came from diverse cultures and who spoke English, Irish, French, German, Italian, Dutch, Swedish, Norwegian, Russian, Spanish, Chinese, Phillipino, Hindi, Gujerati (and all the myriad languages of India), assorted African languages and I would think just about every language known to mankind. So what’s the problem if the exiled Garifuna now speak Spanish? By the way, we currently have a number of Spanish speaking Venezuelans and Cubans in our midst. As both ben-David and Peter point out, we are highly unlikely to get even a majority of the present day Garifuna hurrying to our shores. People don’t usually migrate to places with high unemployment and poverty – they look for lands of opportunity – like the USA, not so Ms edwards?

    1. C. ben-David says:

      I know it’s not nice to attack people personally, but Mrs. Edwards’ “logic” is always flawed. Far from the sharpest knife in the drawer, the woman is chronically two blocks short of a load in her reasoning but still full of herself as if she has said something clever or perceptive.

  4. While reading this piece, I was not sure what to make of it. However, when I came to this part, I thought the writer must be confused: “Mr. Eustace obviously has not considered the socio-economic and cultural impacts that this sort of action will cause.”

    Please, what action are you referring to?

    I found it impossible to connect the body of your argument with your conclusion.

    How do the following points amount to this conclusion? “Mr. Eustace’s actions have proven that he is grossly irresponsible. That he would act in such a capricious manner without giving complete thought to the consequences that would be incurred due to his action shows that he is not a competent and responsible leader.”:

    1. “The Garifuna people are said to be an interbreeding of West Africans and Kalinago….”
    2. “I have my ancestry DNA test that shows that I am related to individuals from Nigeria, Sudan, Ghana, Portugal, Wales and Ireland.”
    3. “The majority of these individuals are from Spanish-speaking countries that have different customs and practices than the average Vincentian. Is Mr. Eustace thinking about the relationship between these two distinct groups of people?”

    Sounds to me like the writer “cussing –out” the Garifuna people.

    To add to the contribution of those who have commented, the Garifuna can be identified by their common language. If the writer can speak, fluently, any West African language then “slap me”; and allow her to discredit the significance of SVG to the Garifuna in the Diaspora.

    P.S. This piece could have been better titled: “The Garifuna’s connection to SVG is of no greater significance than my connection to West Africa”.

    Let’s embrace our brothers and sisters.

  5. More nonsense. Helena is a nutjob and anyone could see that. Stewps. Kenton your site is becoming commessville when you keep posting all this nonsense.

    1. C. ben-David says:

      The best I-man can come with is that maybe her children love her… Maybe even her husband, but maybe not…

  6. petergriffin says:

    I listened to Mr Eaustace speech and I am sure that I heard him say on more than one occasion that he consulted with the other members of the party.Why then are you stating that he didn,t give this thing any though.Am sure that if this honorary citizenship was proposed by Ralph Gonsalves who you all worship you would have been saying something different or nothing at all Miss Edwards.Why wont you all for once stop treating Mr Easutace as if he is not educated or is incapable of making a positive contributIon to this country.Ralph is not the only one who can lead.A lot of you seems to think so.This country was doing well before he came and it will resume to do well after he has gone after the next general elections.

  7. petergriffin says:

    Miss Edwards I don,t know if you are aware of it but for your information we were not aware that we had sign on to alba until Chavez announced it.I cant remember seeing any article written by you nor any of the other Ralph worshippers condemning him for this.There was no consultation with the vincentian public and maybe not even with any of the other cabinet members

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