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Independence Duggie Nose

National colours and flags at the Independence Parade at Victoria Park, Kingstown in October 2016. (Photo: Duggie Nose/Facebook)

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Statement by St Vincent and the Grenadines Reparations Committee on the 39th anniversary of Independence.

The St Vincent and the Grenadines Reparations Committee congratulates our nation on the attainment of 39 years of independence from Britain, the former slaveholding and colonial overlord of our people. Over these 39 years, we are constantly reminded that independent, post-colonial St Vincent and the Grenadines is not postcolonial.

When the former enslaving European powers came to our region, they met thriving civilizations where our Kalinago and Garifuna ancestors lived side by side in harmony and mutual respect. They wanted our lands and our people said No. The British imperialist immediately started a war of domination that was stiffly resisted by our ancestors for decades. Our people’s courageous resistance against colonial domination is responsible for our nation, Yuremei, which the British renamed St Vincent and the Grenadines, being the last to be conquered in the Caribbean.

When our National hero, Joseph Chatoyer was killed in 1795, the resistance went on for another two years before the British gained absolute control. The savagery was unspeakable. The genocidal actions of Britain remain as a stain on the conscience of that nation. But our people’s resistance to colonial settlement and conquest helped to paint the beautiful picture where we, our people, our nation bear the unique and proud distinction of being the last to be completely dominated and colonized. As a result, of all the islands in the Caribbean, Yurumei endured the shortest period of full-blown chattel slavery.

The Caribbean Reparations Commission (CRC), at its retreat in Jamaica in September 2018 resolved that in order to take the reparations effort to a new level we must combine the task of educating our people with greater and increase activism. We must not only make a demand. We must demonstrate that we intend to win the battle for our demands as outlined in the 10 point Reparations plan.

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Based on our recognition that the post-colonial Caribbean is not post-colonial and that Euro-centric thinking still dominates our thought and action and that colonial relics and monuments remain a constant feature and occupy a dominant space on our landscape, the CRC agreed to launch a region-wide renaming programme. This renaming programme is intended to give true honour and glory to the real heroes and heroine of our people as well as to erase prominent colonial relics from our landscape.

As Curtis King, the deputy chairman of the SVG Reparations Committee has repeatedly proclaimed, “How the hell do we celebrate independence at Victoria Park?”, Queen Victoria being the epitome of British colonisation in our country.

The SVG Reparations Committee, therefore, calls on the government of our country to immediately rename Victoria Park, during the official celebration of this year’s independence, with a name more befitting an independent country. Our history is replete with outstanding statesmen, women and symbols from which we can choose.

We are mindful of the fact that ever so often there are flickers of enlightened and nationalist thought and action from our leaders. We commend the move to rename the National Insurance Scheme to National Insurance Service, the rewording of the oath of office for elected and high state officials that now entrust them to work for the people of our country and upholding our constitution rather than for the queen, her heirs and assigns. The program of renaming, reclaiming and renewal must be strengthened and given real meaning and life.

Therefore, the SVG Reparations Committee is of the view that these flickers of conscious light must become a flame. The Independence anniversary celebration is a good time to rename the Royal St Vincent and the Grenadines Police Force to the SVG Police Service.

The SVG Reparations Committee also calls on the government to move swiftly to do all in its powers to find ways to recognize and integrate our heroic Garifuna brothers and sisters in Belize, Honduras, Guatemala, Nicaragua and the United States in our cultural and national plans of development.

The SVG Reparations Committee remains steadfast in the view that Independence and Reparations will remain empty slogans unless an untiring effort is made to lift the consciousness of people on all issues related to their history and place in the world.

On this our 39 anniversary of independence we call on our government, religious, trade unions and other civic bodies to turn our country into a school so that our nation and people will learn its history, abandon Eurocentric ways of thinking and living and turn to a new consciousness that is critical and necessary for surviving in these modern times.

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].

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8 replies on “SVG Reparation Committee Independence Message”

  1. Your call, “on the government to move swiftly to do all in its powers to find ways to recognize and integrate our heroic Garifuna brothers and sisters in Belize, Honduras, Guatemala, Nicaragua and the United States in our cultural and national plans of development” hypocritically contradicts the position of the founder of the Caribbean reparations movement, our very own Dr. Ralph Gonsalves, who loudly proclaimed he would not allow the invasion of our country by the descendants the exiled Garifuna people, a position that is far more meanspirited, greedy, and selfish than the position of Donald Trump regarding the caravan of Central American invaders now heading for the United States.

    For proof of this see: https://www.iwnsvg.com/2015/07/09/repudiating-the-rights-of-our-garifunagarinagu-people/.

    The reparations horse died in the stable before it ever got to the starting line. Dismount.

  2. Interesting literature. I agree that our children should be taught the history of this nation from our point of view. Not the brainwashed version that we are fed, where the colonial powers are the heroes and we are the villains. When the children know their history they will be able to figure out why we are in the mess that we find ourselves in today and correct it. When the occupiers left this country and handed it over to the local people, they fully-well knew that a small island on its own did not stand a chance to develop without help and know-how. We continued to gratefully kiss their asses while they continued to kick our asses and ostracize us. They had gotten what they wanted, in Jesus name, and, they didn’t need us anymore. After 39 years of independence from the colonial powers we still see opportunist and unscrupulous men trying to further subject and take advantage of our people and hard-earned land. (boat-building, farming, fishing, trading should be part of our identity because of the geography of these lands.) We have to think in terms of our children’s wellbeing. We owe it to our future generations to set the record straight and to build our nation into a place that can at least be independent in providing affordable food, clothing, and shelter for all our people. Where our people can thrive and develop. where we take pride in who we are, what we do and where our place is in the world.

    1. You are well behind the times. The Eurocentric teaching of history ended two or more decades ago with revised Caribbean history curricula.

      The British occupiers left us to our own devises because this is what our political and intellectual elites exorted us to vote for in the independence referendum. We were not forced to give up our colonial status. We did it all by ourselves.

      But you are correct that we have never had the means to develop without external help and know-how. Our elites knew this in 1979 but were too hungry for power to care.

      I only see our independence anniversaries as a day of mouring because we have never achieved independence, or at least the false promises that accompanied it, and were wrong to bargain away our ties to our former exploiter, Great Britain, because we would be far better off today had we clung tenaciously to our colonial status. Just look at all the other Caribbean British territories not fooled by the siren song of independence without self reliance — Anguilla, Bermuda, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Montserrat, and the Turks and Caicos — which all better off than us.

      Can you imagine current conditions in Montserrat had it been an independent country when the 1995 volcanic eruption destroyed over half the island? For sure, there would have been no repatriation to England of Black British retirees along with thousands of Montserratians who never lived in England (https://www.independent.co.uk/news/montserratians-win-right-to-settle-in-uk-1157951.html).

      God save the Queen!

      1. Did it ever occur to you that all of the colonies you listed (from Anguilla to the TCI) have one thing in common – minute populations- which make them unviable as nation-states? This is why they are still colonies, and it is also why they have high per capita incomes. As a Bahamian, I continue to find your ideas on this subject amusing. I imagine myself (or any other sane Bahamian) wanting to trade places with our little cousins in TCI…..then I just giggle. Your better-off-as-colonies mantra is truly risible and it is amazing that you can find anyone to agree with you.

      2. You can make a grown man cry. A question: Do you think that most of our young people know how to analyze the terms of the 1833 Act of Emancipation? Like in photography perspective is important. Not just in the case of depth of field but, for having a view of objective reality that is unique to a Caribbean person. We are, in real time, analyzing historical events that affect our people. In doing so we should develop an appreciation of the creative contributions of individuals and groups in our national territory. At least that is what they say it is about if you not pretending you should know that. Agreed? Back to my first question or what is this about?

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