MP for South Leeward Nigel “Nature” Stephenson on Saturday highlighted his roots in the constituency and attempted to portray his contender, Jomo Thomas, as an unfriendly “foreigner” who only began to exchange pleasantries with constituents when he decided to enter politics.
Stephenson spoke of his contribution to the constituency as a teacher, sportsman and a community activist — from his formative years in Vermont, to his adult life in Campden Park.
“Now, there are some people, I don’t know from whence they came, but those people walk up and down, prior to entering politics, before they were named as candidate, never took the opportunity to even say hello — too big, too prestigious to say good morning to the common man…
“But what I want to tell you, there is no need for Nigel Stephenson to walk around with a piece of paper to say who Nigel Stephenson is, who Nigel Stephenson family is. I don’t need to do that; everybody knows,” he said.
Stephenson said his New Democratic Party (NDP) will create an upset in his childhood village, Vermont, a stronghold of the ruling Unity Labour Party (ULP).
“Vermont is no longer ULP country. It is the territory of the Nature boy. I grew up there, they know me,” he said.
Stephenson said that while community groups are not common today, he was member of the Vermont Sports and Cultural Club.
“I want to ask the question: where was my opponent when we started?”
Stephenson said that when the Vermont Nature Trail opened in 1991, although he was very young, his club selected him to write a poem about the trail, adding that many copies of the poem are still available at the Forestry Department.
After the Vermont Sports and Cultural Club, Stephenson said, he and other villagers formed the Buccament Valley Development Organisation.
“Where was my opponent at that time. Where was he at that time when your humble servant was actively involved in the development of the Buccament Valley?”
Stephenson said that when he left Vermont and moved to Campden Park, he played cricket and football and “even tried my hand at netball”.
Villagers had a club called the Campden Park Progressive Organisation, which evolved into the South Leeward Sports Association. Stephenson said he was chair of the South Leeward Cricket Association, Netball Association, and Game Secretary of the South Leeward Association.
“Where was my opponent at that time? I am saying all this to say, I don’t need to walk around with a piece of paper to say who I am. And if somebody has to come to you with a piece of paper to tell you who they are, it means that they themselves don’t know precisely who they are.
“That is why he has to walk with a piece of paper, because it’s a person of split personality. He doesn’t understand his identity.
“And if he doesn’t understand his identity, he doesn’t understand the dynamics of his constituency, what the people of the constituency are going through: what are their needs, what are their aspirations and what are the pains and sufferings that these people are going through. He doesn’t have that understanding because he is not cultured in this constituency.”
Stephenson asked how can one represent a people that they don’t understand.
“And I think by now a clear message has been sent that he people of South Leeward do not want a foreigner to represent them.
“If I were to ask you where the individual is from, a lot of you will tell me your don’t know. But i know where he’s from. He is from parts unknown. And because he is from parts unknown, when the bell rings, we are going to send him back precisely where he came from.”
Stephenson said he taught for 12 years, and said he was confident that 95 per cent of his former students voted for him in the 2010 general elections, when he was first elected.
Stephenson said that as a geography, principles of business and economics teacher at all levels of the secondary school system, he gave free lessons to his students to ensured that they are successful at CXC.
“Where was my opponent at that time?” he said, adding that it pains his heart when reference is made to Thomas when one speaks of comparisons in the service he and Thomas have rendered to South Leeward.