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

By Dr. Kingsley Simmons

The previous article, “The illegal, audacious, arrogant action of British man in Bequiahas rightly attracted quite a few comments. This follow-up article is a response to some of those comments which I categorised broadly as Ownership, Affordability and Racism.

Ownership

For decades, the people of Bequia have welcomed and lived harmoniously with people from every corner of the earth, and I am sure the property owner in Ansela Coite was offered the same welcome as those before him.  So, to those who assume otherwise, no one is questioning his right to own property in Ansela Coite, and no one is questioning his right to name his half-acreproperty as he likes.  But as is Spring, Hamilton, Paget Farm, Port Elizabeth and others, Ansela Coite is a designated area of Bequia, as is evident on the official map of the island.  No one dares rename Paget Farm or any of the other areas mentioned above simply because he/she resides there.  So, the unanswered question is why the resident of Ansela Coite thinks he has the right to rename the area, knowing full well that he doesnotown it.  And It is difficult for anyone to accept that he wasn’t aware of the illegality of his action.

Affordability

As one reader rightly indicated, land in Ansela Coite is being sold to locals at US$5 or EC$13.40 per square foot.  The minimum size of land the government sells there is half an acre. There are 21,780 square feet in a half-acre of land.  Applying simple arithmetic, any Vincentian wishing to live in Ansela Coite will need to cough up EC$291,852 plus various government taxes and lawyers’ fees, which must take the cost well over EC$300,000 just for the land.  This is a daunting sum of money for most Vincentians whose average income is EC$22,000, according to the Prime Minister (See iWitness News 5thApril 2019).  Such a pricing policy undoubtedly deters locals from living in Ansela Coite.  Therefore, intentional or not, Ansela Coite is set to become yet anotherenclave in Bequia to be populated exclusively by ex-pats. Wake up folks!

Racism

By any definition I am not a racist, and anyone who knows me can testify to that.  That said, I am not surprised about the charge of racism in some quarters because the race card is frequently used to stifle discussions on issues which make one or another racial group uncomfortable.  And often, it’s counter-productive.  Therefore, the people of Bequia must not fall for it and stay silent on matters they feel strongly about. As Jomo Thomas suggested in his recent article, It’s Crunch Time Vincentians, they must instead speak out.  They must speak out because their opinions matter and, therefore, must be voiced publicly. To serve their purpose, some may regard this as an incitement to hatred, but don’t be fooled.  It is not! In fact, externalising your concerns may be the most effective way of curtailing a build-up of that explosive mix of anger, frustration and resentment, an outcome which is bad for community relations.  So, whether it’s the issue relating to Adams’ Bay, the antics of the anti-whaling lobby in Paget Farm or the illegal renaming of Ansela Coite, it is in everyone’s interest that the voices of the people of Bequia are heard without fear of them being labelled racists. Otherwise changes will never come and the relentless drip, drip, erosion of the way of life in Bequia will continue unabated.

In short, Bequians must notacquiesce to threats on their livelihood, their way of life, their right to air their concerns, their freedoms and cultural norms, and equally as important, community cohesion.  And if faced with such threats, remaining silent should never be an option.

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.

4 replies on “The action of British man in Bequia: a follow-up”

  1. I agree 100 percent with the last two paragraphs subtitled “racism” and “affordable”, I inquired previously about the price per sq ft. which I did say was reasonable but WAS NOT AWARE OF A MINIMUM purchase allowed , which is the sticking point , a clearly as you said not in the reach of most if not all locals . That is why in my other comment I raised the question about house plot sizes but now I know about the minimum and special requirements of the gov.

    The naming issue is contradicting……. if he is only naming his piece and NOT the entire area he has a right to if chooses
    .

  2. Race-ism: By defintion, an “ism” is a system of things, not a mere feeling. Just as capitalism is a system of things based on capital, and not just “liking” capital. Now by DEFINITION, Black people haven’t been in a position to be racist for a few centuries, ESPECIALLY on this side of the Atlantic. We are IN FACT living in a potitical and financial system designed, by ADMISSION of those who DESIGNED it, called White Supremacy. The term is seldom used in OFFICIAL documents since the last 2 generations but it is CLEARLY written in documents that help shape the present system. So this is not an OPINION or FEELING. Whatever, WHATEVER decisions that a group of people (in this instance, the residents of Bequia who have or are descendants of those who toiled and built and lived there for generations) decide to do foe their SELF INTEREST is not a metter of discussion for people OUTSIDE that community. You may THINK you know what’s best for Japanese. But trust and believe they don’t give 2 cents about it. Neither should you! And if there are STILL those in Bequia who identify with ancestors who were slave masters and drivers, rather than identify with the enslaved and oppressed (even though aint probably nobody who doesn’t share both ancestry to some extent) then let their opinion and voices be cast aside by the majority, boldly and without shame. Self interest and self preservation is the FIRST LAW of Creation. Ain’t NOBODY that can underwrite it.

  3. Dr.Simmons raises some interesting points which all seem to be based out of fear and helplessness. The fact that someone whether from foreign or local puts a sign on their property is no-ones business but their own and they are very much within their legal and constitutional right to do so.
    With respect to affordability; it is unfortunate that the cost per square foot is out of reach for the average Vincentian but this is not unique to St.Vincent alone. Wherever you go in the world there will be areas where real-estate is priced higher than other areas based on the advantages of that location. Think about it this way, the local economy will benefit from the purchase of these high priced lands by way of employment and added revenue so long as the government is held responsible for re-investing some of the money into Bequia.
    I do not believe Dr.Simmons is being racist with his commentary but I do think he is very naive as to modernization. The Grenadines are no longer a secret and people will pay top dollar to relocate on on these beautiful islands. Vincentian just have to find a way to reap the rewards.

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