Ansela Coite, Bequia, with Balliceaux and Battawia in the foreground. (Photo: realgrenadines.com)

By Dr. Kingsley Simmons

According to the official map of Bequia, Ansela Coite is that large under-developed area to the east of Spring. From almost anywhere in that area, the historic island of Balliceaux, where hundreds of the Garifuna people perished at the hands of the British, is in full view.

The government is currently selling the land there in half-acre plots at prices very few (I’ll hazard a guess of 5 per cent or less) Vincentians can afford.  Thus far, the government’s sales-drive has attracted one person, a British man. As a result, Ansela Coite now has one resident. Unbelievable but true: In the very week the people of St. Vincent and the Grenadines celebrated National Hero’s Day, this lone resident whose only connection to the state is his house, and who wakes up in clear view of the symbol of our past struggles, audaciously and single-handedly chose to CHANGE THE NAME OF THAT SECTION OF OUR COUNTRY.  So overnight, according to the sign he erected, and to the astonishment of those who noticed it, the name “Ansela Coite” ceased to exist. He renamed the area and called it “PARADISE COVE”.  The office of the Deputy Director of Grenadines Affairs and the Department of Land and Surveys confirmed that this action is illegal as there has been no formal request, and hence no approval for the change of name.

Apart from being illegal and insensitive to our past struggles, this man’s action appears to be a blatant and deliberate display of arrogance and an “I-can-do-as-I like” attitude.  As such, the incident at Ansela Coite is divisive and clearly unacceptable for several reasons. Therefore, it should be challenged. It should be challenged in a way that reassures all Vincentians that such behaviours will not be tolerated in our country; and in a way that sends the clearest message to ex-pats with similar intentions. There can be very little doubt that if the authorities fail to deal with matter decisively It will be setting a dangerous precedence with dire consequences for community relations.   No one wants that.

This incident has so incensed residents who realise what was going on that within days their frustrations were clear: the solar lights were ripped from the posts and the words “PARADISE COVE” plastered over. Rightly or wrongly, this was merely a demonstration of anger directed not only at the audacity of the individual for what he did but also at the ineptitude of the authorities.  This demonstration of the people’s anger should not, however, rid the authorities of their responsibilities in taking the legal actions necessary to resolve the matter. Therefore, masking the offending signs is not enough. It is not enough also because it leaves unanswered some fundamental questions. Among which are a) What makes an individual with the loosest of connections to the State believe he has the right, and the freedom to break the law and changed an officially mapped and locally recognised name of a section of the country? b) Was this a test run for something more daring, say, erecting a gate with the intention of denying locals access to the area?  These are serious concerns for which a prompt and decisive response would have been reassuring.  But despite a formal letter of complaint (dated March 25th, 2019; two weeks after the sign went up) to the relevant office in Bequia, there is no evidence that the issue is being addressed. In fact, there has not even been a formal acknowledgement of the complaint.  Make of that what you will, but when one considers that that individual has blatantly broken the laws of the State, the noticeable silence of the authorities is very worrying.

By doing what he did at Ansela Coite, the Brit has openly and boldly broken the law and pushed two fingers up the faces of all Vincentians, no doubt with the belief that no one dare questions his action.  Why? Because for some time now, while the authorities stand idly by, the people of the Grenadines have witnessed a disturbing trend: a drip, drip, deceptive erosion of their rights and privileges. This incident is just another in the long list of examples of that trend.  And while the erosion of our rights continues unabated, the lack of confidence in the current administrative setup in Bequia and the ever-diminishing influence of the local population over local affairs, (no doubt is a direct result of the abolition of local government), leave the people powerless in situations such as these.  Therefore, it should come as no surprise that people took it upon themselves to deal with the matter by removing the offending signs.  So, taking account of the inherent deficits in the system that manages the day-to-day affairs in Bequia, until we return to the policy of giving local people more say (preferably through a local elected chamber), unresolved incidences like the one at Ansela Coite will continue, to everyone’s annoyance.  The consequence of this could be very unpleasant.

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 news.iwitness@gmail.com.

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22 Comments

  1. My proposed objection regards the ownership transfer. ALL OF IT? It seems to me that we might have here a plausible exception to the ancient rule against ex post facto rulings. After all, there is only one Bequia and I think parents and children thereof should have the privilege of the view and even of residing/vacationing there. And all Vincentians, since the View, as you have made clear tends to tie mainland and archipelago together. Give him back his money and make better use, Vincentians/Bequians,.

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    1. The man bought a half-acre plot and put an informal sign with writing saying “Paradise Cove” on it, as he had a legal right to do, and all hell breaks lose because he is a “white devil exploiter” when we know that tens of thousands of our Black people have migrated to “white countries” for decades many of whom put up various kinds of unique name plates on the properties they legally purchased without any concern being raised.

      Why do we always have to racialize everthing? Does this reflect some kind of racial self hatred masquerading as Black pride? Read the Facebook posts before you say I am out of place for raising this possibility.

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      1. I couldn’t have made a better argument defending the rights of this individual who allegedly broke the law by introducing his own personal touch to his plot of land…and BTW “Ansela Coite”? Really? I think the name “Paradise Cove” is much more appealing and should not subtract from the meaning of this site for Vincentians.

      2. Maybe the author is frustrated that he cannot afford a plot. Maybe he is a racist. I wonder how many hundreds of thousands the Brit had to pay for the Alien Landholder’s Licence. The author wants the reader to believe the guy that bought a plot is some kind of hate-monger that is trying to take over the country.
        Or that he is in SVG to spit on and disrespect everyone. I wonder if the author even knows this guy. The author just shows how Arrogant and hateful we Vincentians can get.

    1. INTERESTING POINT AND VIEWS ……..BUT THEN MOST WILL SAY YOU ARE SOCIALIST AND NOT PROMOTING THE FREE WORLD MARKET ( CAPITALISM ) ……JUST A VIEW
      LOL

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  2. I WONDER IF ANY LOCALS GOING TO PURCHASE ANY OF THESE LANDS FOR SALE ….HMMM
    ALSO MY QUESTION IS HOW MUCH PER SQ FT ARE THESES LANDS GOING FOR OR PLOTS FOR SALE ..

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      1. THIS IS ABSOLUTELY REASONABLE IN MY VIEW CONSIDERING LOCATION ……. WHATS THE COMMON LOT SIZE FOR A MEDIUM SIZE TO AVERAGE HOUSE WITH ADDED YARD SPACE . ……..MY POINT IS BASED ON THE SIZE OF HOUSE AND LAND SPACE SOMEONE WANTS THERE SHOULD BE NO COMPLAINTS IF ITS JUST AVERAGE

  3. Interesting and informative article. I would say let the death hear and the blind see. If the authorities don’t do the right thing and the citizens take things into their own hands no one can blame them.

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  4. The people of Bequia should be able to afford the land. Or why not make this island with it’s history a designated historical site and a Conservaion area?

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  5. Henry Dennise says:

    Since this article makes no mention as to whether this individual was aware of the historical and cultural importance of the name, perhaps, just perhaps, he was unaware. In the interrest of fairness, It would have been nice to have his perspective for a more balenced story. Similar things use to happen on St.Thomas, but we never used the silly names people came up with. Sometimes people do insensitive things because they are unaware of the implications, cultural or otherwise. If he wants to call the property he purchased Paris, it changes nothing. It will always be what it was, Ansela Coite, and your history is immutable. Just ask him to call his house Paradise Cove, a particularly unimaginative name, and leave the land alone…maybe he will understand and agree..

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  6. There is a lot left too ambiguous in this opinion.
    Was this sign placed at the public entrance to the entire area? And if so did he seek authorization to do so and nobody knew? Or was it placed on his property? And if it was placed on his property he has every right to put a sign up saying whatever he wants. It doesn’t mean he has changed the name of the entire area, nor does he have the power to do so. If that’s all it takes why don’t I go ahead and plant a sign in Lower Bay that says “Limers Paradise” and see if anybody starts calling it by its new name.

    And furthermore, before resorting to vandalism, did anyone try to contact the man directly to come to an amicable resolution? If so and he was unreachable, would it not have made more sense to go to the authorities then seeking information? And bring it to public knowledge to have greater voices heard? Or did everyone just get vex and do as they pleased?

    I am not saying what this man did was right, but we don’t have a full story here to be able to discern if he could either be right, wrong but reasonably so because of lack of information on his part, or just totally wrong and ignorant.

    It can be slanderous to accuse someone of what is being accused here before getting all of the facts right. And if the facts were already gathered then why leave so much ambiguity in this piece?

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  7. Sounds to me like the government used to own the land but decided it would be in the best interests of the people to sell the land, get as much as possible for it and use that money elsewhere.

    This happens all over the world. Get over it.

    If the locals want the land for themselves, then they should pool their money together and try to buy it from the Brit. This however sounds like hatred towards the guy for something done many generations ago by somebody of same nationality…that is just as bad as racism.

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  8. Raf Ollivierre says:

    Do you mean Anse la Coite?
    No wonder the purchaser wanted to change the name. In French it means “Bay of Fornication”.

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  9. THIS IS ABSOLUTELY WHY I MADE MY POINT AT TOP …………NO LOCALS MAY NOT BUY OR BE INTERESTED IN PURCHASING ANY PLOTS BUT YET A FOREIGN PERSON BUY AND ALL HELL BREAK LOOSE ,,,,,,, BEN POINTED OUT AN IMPORTANT FACT ……INFORMAL” SIGN ON HIS PROPERTY HE PURCHASED

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    1. Maureen Simmons says:

      There is some misunderstanding here. This resident has only one plot of land in Ansela Coite. He does NOT own Ansel’s Coite. Ansel’s is public property which is now being sold in half acre plots by the government. No one is against him buying a plot and calling it what he likes. So here is a question: Does anyone who now buys a plot of land in Ansela Coite has the right to change its name? I think not. Furthermore, it’s against the law.

      Reply

      1. CLEARLY YOU NEED TO READ AND UNDERSTAND , …WITH ALL DUE RESPECT
        NOBODY SAID HE BOUGHT THE ENTIRE ANSELA COITE LANDS ….OR WHATEVER IT NAME .. I AND EVERYONE ELSE ONLY MENTIONED THE PIECE OF PLOT HE PURCHASED

  10. The guy writing this seems angry that this area has only one resident. That’s not the fault of the guy he is complaining about..he paid his money to the government. The government needs to lower the price for SVG residents. Or maybe wealthy returning Vincentians who have lived their life abroad and not contributed to the islands struggle for improvement can support their fellow nationals more financially.

    Reply

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