By Troy Prince (Proud North Leeward resident)
North Leeward, how long can we allow politics to keep us divided? When are we going to realise that this is our country? Is political division our only choice? Are ULP and NDP the only organisations that should matter to us in North Leeward and by extension in St. Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG)? We have a choice to make up here in North Leeward. We need to choose between looking out for our own well-being or leaving it up to the political parties to do such for us. Judging by the looks of things, I don’t want to think about the choice that we have been making. It is just too painful for me as a young Vincentian.
Sadly, it eats me out on the inside, and there are times I cry when I look at the state of our North Leeward. When I reflect on the North Leeward I used to know as a boy and compare it with what I know now as a man, it makes me ashamed. I struggle everyday to draw strength from all the good memories of the past North Leeward. For I am overwhelmed by the pains that I feel and witness my people feeling right here in North Leeward in this day and age. The cries and pains of not having money for basic needs such as food, clothing and shelter. The cries of parents not being able to send children to school. Not being able to go out and chill on the blocks and comfortably drink a stout just because you cannot afford to stray from your monthly financial obligations. This is what we have been reduced to over the last 20 years, only because of partisan politics and divisiveness. This is only so because we have blinded ourselves with NDP and/or ULP. It is as if anything that is not red or yellow does not matter in North Leeward anymore.
Surprisingly, we were never like this. We were always go-getters. We were always independent. We never used to sit, wait and beg political parties for anything. What has happened to that kind of independent spirit that once roamed North Leeward? What has happened to the willpower and independent mindset that once characterised our people here in North Leeward? Why have we allowed politics to erode these personality traits that once had us feeling proud as a North Leeward resident? We need local government in North Leeward. We need our own politicians and prime minister in North Leeward. We need our North Leeward to return to the state where we were happy together. Where our neighbours’ cries were felt by us as well. Only we can do it, because the government does not care and continues to show that they don’t care by their actions and inactions.
Reminiscently, permit me to delve into the history books of North Leeward for a history lesson. In The Vincentian newspaper, of April 22, 2022, Carden A. Michael gave a very profound recount on the life, struggles and battles of a number of our very own “sons of the soil”. In his words, “As a youngster growing up in Chateaubelair, I can vividly remember seeing a group of radicals, aspiring intellectuals’ leaders that came from among the grassroots, among them Calder Williams, Jim Maloney, Ras Millie, Benny Thompson, Amos Glasgow and Elrias (Erry) Williams. They banded together in a commitment to mobilise the peasants of the community and especially the workers employed at the Richmond Vale Estate. They taught them about their rights, highlighting the pittance they received as wages from the government. It was clear that this cadre of brothers resented the Milton Cato bourgeoise government. Their radicalism spoke to those self-centred cocksure men who pledged allegiance to the imperialist powers of Europe, and those elitist blacks who served the queen as if she were their deity (God). With such a rich local history we should be tipping our hats off to these past freedom fighters from North Leeward. We should be drawing strength and courage as a people given how deep and everlasting our history as a people of North Leeward is.”
In this same article, Michael further recollected that young people in those days gravitated towards consciousness, resistance, rebellion and defiance. This tells me that in us up here in North Leeward are the spirits that fight against injustices, colonialism and neglect. We need to awaken such spirits and have them as our guide to a better North Leeward. In this same vein, I humbly salute the following for the examples that were set by them for us to follow: Calder Williams, Jim Maloney, Jiles “Ras Millie” Francois, Benny Thomson, Amos Glasgow, Elrias “Erry” Williams, Joel (Ras Natty) Francois, Farel “Blacka” Ottley, Safer George, Alwin (Peddler) Hepburn, Samuel Hepburn, Ina Collis and Clem Tucker. This list is not at all exhausted, and I apologise for names that are worthy of being mentioned, but were not mentioned. I will continue to dig into our local history and further become more knowledgeable on accounts like these. I urge every single one of us here in North Leeward to read around and about our local history. Get the knowledge of our past for it will guide us in the present and further into the future.
In addition, living examples like these provide me with great pride and strength. It gives me the confidence that what was achieved with our North Leeward historical mothers and fathers can be achieved again right here, right now in 2022 by our modern-day community leaders. This group North Leeward Heritage Preservation Front is not any different than the New Rescuers Movement of yesteryear. Our efforts and causes are more or less the same. We have to carry on in the stead of these North Leeward icons. North Leeward needs leadership, strength, togetherness and more so YOU. All the young people we have lost to marijuana, alcohol, crime, violence and partisan politics paints a very grim and dark picture. We have to keep them in our hearts and minds, because according to the word of Buju Banton, “Circumstances made me what I am.” We need to rebuild our North Leeward so that we can turn around our circumstances. We need to rebuild our North Leeward so that these unfortunate situations will not continue to plague our present and future North Leeward youths.
In summary, let us all fight for a better North Leeward for North Leeward. Let us build up North Leeward so that we can all live together in peace, love and unity. We all have a role to play in the development of our North Leeward. Do not let politics prevent you from doing your part. This is the North Leeward where we all want to live, and where we want our children to live. This is what we need. I have changed in the last five years. I had to for myself, my family and you, my North Leeward people. I said to myself, we young North Leeward youths need to start a movement to secure our rights, welfare and future in this country. We are the ones paying the price for government policies that fail and plans that were promised and never executed. We know what we need. I have made it my duty to stand up in this country to contend with injustices and neglect of my people. Our young people in North Leeward and all of SVG are all Vincentians in the end, and deserve to be treated fairly. That’s all that counts. We need to talk to one another and find a way to live together in North Leeward and this country. Let us strive for peace and reconciliation in North Leeward and SVG on a whole. I am ready to make that dream come true. Are you ready?
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].