The National Heroes Advisory Committee has recommended that four more persons be accorded the status of National Hero.
Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves made the announcement on Monday during the wreath-laying ceremony at the Obelisk at Dorsetshire Hill.
Gonsalves said that chair of the committee has written to Governor General Sir Frederick Ballantyne, and copied to him the results of the committee’s work.
He said recommendation have been made that George Augustus McIntosh, Ebenezer Theodore Joshua, Robert Milton Cato, and Dr. Pamenos Eustace be elevated to the status of National Hero.
Gonsalves said that the report was sent to him very recently and he has not had the opportunity to discuss it with the Governor General and the Cabinet and to speak to the nation.
“I report on the process, which is on-going,” he said.
Gonsalves said that citizens must always keep in mind the legal framework for the naming of National Heroes.
He noted that to be considered for the status of National Hero, a person must have displayed extraordinary legal qualities, and his or her work must have made a profound difference for the better to the people of St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
In keeping with the law, the status of National Hero can only be accorded after one’s death.
“Those of us who are in leadership need to ensure that this discussion which continues on the question of other national heroes, additional national heroes, that we must conduct that discussion with civility and good sense, always remembering that the highest hallmark of leadership is not just to inspire, which is good, but to draw out of people that which is noble and good in them and often times to draw out the goodness and nobility which the people do not as yet know that they possess.”
Speaking on behalf of the New Democratic Party at Monday’s event, former Minister of Education, John Horne, restated his party’s view that only one other national hero be named at this time.
“…given the enormous breadth of George A McIntosh’s contribution to this his native land he should be accorded the honour of being elevated to National Hero status singularly at this time with other successful nominees to follow at a later date,” Horne said.
St. Vincent and the Grenadines has one National Hero, The Right Excellent Joseph Chatoyer.
Efforts to name other national heroes have been fraught with contention.
Gonsalves joining the fray in April 2013, delivering a speech on national heroes in which he made a case for Cato to be accorded the status.
The Prime Minister’s involvement triggered the resignation of Jomo Thomas from the Committee in protest.
Political activist and social commentator Jomo Thomas resigned from the National Heroes Selection Committee on Thursday in protest against a speech Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves delivered on national heroes one week earlier.
“I am convinced that the Prime Minister’s presentation has made our work superfluous,” Thomas wrote in his resignation letter to chair of the committee, former culture minister Rene Baptiste, one week after Gonsalves delivered a speech on National Heroes.
“His (Gonsalves’) talk was a good one and added much to the debate, but it has irreparably coloured and influence the debate particularly since PM Gonsalves is the head of cabinet, which makes the final decision as to who our next hero or heroes will be,” Thomas wrote.
This whole national hero stuff Is a bad joke.
Starting with Chatoyer who lead a failed rebellion to turn us into a French colony to tear-gas Cato who couldn’t tolerate any challenge to his authority, we are once again on the road to being called the laughingstock of the Caribben as we were when Mitchell lead a one-man government in 1972.
The more heroes we proclaim, the less heroic we become.
Yo, I am very disappointed with your view point here. For a bright boy, you have taken a rather “duncy head” approach to such an important issue to our National development as a people, as VINCENTIANS.
A couple years ago, 2 years to be precise; I attended a lecture at “peacemo” And I remembered engaging with some folks with a similar mindset as yours and was really taken aback by the jarring comments being made by some very educated folks. Fortunately for me,well no, for you..LOL. I happened to find the column by Dr Adrian Fraser, feature presenter at said lecture; addressing this troubled mindset of our people.
On Saturday March 15, I delivered an address at the opening of the Garifuna National Conference, held at the Peace Memorial Hall. My presentation was on the theme of the Conference, “Back to our Roots Strategies for Survival and Sustainability of Indigenous Peoples.” At the end of the opening session a Carib youth came to me and told me that he now felt better about himself.
This is not something that should be taken lightly and was an issue to which I had drawn attention. I also had in mind an encounter some years ago with a Carib lady who was annoyed that, at least, at the school which her daughter attended, they still spoke of the Caribs as being cannibals. These are part of a broader issue about which the Kenyan author Ngugi Wa Thiong’O is very strong. It really has to do with the impact of colonialism on people who were colonised.
Wa Thiong’O is of the view that the destruction of a peoples’ culture was the greatest weapon in the possession of the colonial power. He accepts the fact that the military technology of the imperial mother was superior to that of the persons who were being colonialised. But he goes on to suggest that military power was only significant when guns are held over the people. But in a colonial situation, culture is more formidable. If you convince the people that they are inferior and dismantle their culture, then you can control them indefinitely. This is something dealt with by others. I like how Dr Carter Woodson, founder of the Journal of Negro History and author of the Mis- Education of the Negro puts it. He was making the point in a different context, but it amounted to the same thing. He stated, “When you control a man’s thinking you do not have to worry about his actions. You do not have to tell him not to stand here or go yonder. He will find his ‘proper place’ and will stay in it. You do not need to send him to the back door. He will go without being told. In fact, if there is no back door he will cut one for his special benefit. His education makes it necessary.” I am also reminded too of Bob Marley’s “Emancipate Yourself from Mental Slavery.” In other words, emancipation is not complete until we rid ourselves of mental slavery.
The British used this weapon effectively through education and religion. The Caribs were robbed of their identity. They were objects rather than subjects of their history. They lost confidence in themselves, hated themselves and were confused about their identity. They had to live for a long time with the issue of cannibalism hanging over their heads. This stigma took hold of them and destroyed their identity and pride. This weapon was used against all colonial people. Blacks were, by the same token, victims of this onslaught on their culture. They were supposed to have come from a people who were barbaric. Africa was painted as primitive. Indeed, when the Shaker religion was banned in 1912, one of the things used against them was that they were remnants of African barbarism.
The unfortunate thing about this is that black persons coming out of slavery fell victims to this divide and rule trap and looked down on the Carib peoples. This is something that, to some extent, probably still exists…..
Excerpt taken from:[Searchlight Newspaper]:The Carib story – Reflections on aspects of our national heritage
Dr. Adrian Fraser Fri, Mar 21, 2014
TeacherFang where did I say that the aboriginals, in general, or Chatoyer, in particular, were in any way culturally inferior, cannabistic, etc.?
In fact, I have written here that our exiled indigenous people have been badly treated by the present regime in ruling out of hand the issue of honourary citizenship and by not giving them back their treaty land on the Windward coast.
But Chatoyer was no Vincentian hero in my eyes.
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