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Chatoyer’s life should be used as an example


For the time being, Chatoyer will have to continue on as this country’s sole national hero.

It had been announced by the Prime Minister last October that some more national heroes would be named by next Wednesday, National Heroes’ Day, but we now know that will not happen (see story below).

It may not be a bad thing that the announcement is delayed, because while we have had much discussion since 2002 about who else should be so elevated, there is very little consensus on the concept of a national hero and the significance of having national heroes.

Yes, we have arrived at a set of criteria which prospectives must meet, but the conversation needs to be taken a little further, with a look at how the identification of national heroes can benefit our country beyond being able to say that we have a national hero.

Take Chatoyer, for example. every year, on March 14, a small group of people (one quarter of whom are from the diplomatic corps) journey to the obelisk at Dorsetshire Hill, to pay tribute to His Excellency the Paramount Chief and then having done our duty, we continue on with life as usual.

Our national hero should have a greater role in our lives than a once a year obligation. His contribution and significance should be deeply engrained in the psyche of all our people, a feat which can be achieved without large expenditure on monuments.

We need to become more creative in terms of our public education. Chatoyer and his contribution should be used as metaphors for our aspirations as a nation; he should be a unifying symbol in our far too divided nation.

What was Chatoyer’s dream for Hairoun? What future did he envisage for his people? He was prepared to die for his nation to give us a chance to achieve his vision of a united, confident, independent and prosperous nation.

A replica of the type of village in which Chatoyer may have resided has been constructed at Argyle and there will be another constructed next week in Greiggs to mark National Heroes’ Day. We should not view these villages simply as historical curiosities, but such artefacts should prompt us to seek to reclaim some of the self-sufficiency and community spiritedness our ancestors had, and remind us of the way they used nature’s gifts in a manner which was sustainable and respectful of the environment.

We should look at the way they ordered their societies and see if there is anything we can learn from them. How would Chatoyer and his people have viewed the greed and self-centredness so many of us demonstrate, the senseless violence in our homes and communities and the political tribalism which is part of our daily lives?

His life and times can be made a lot more meaningful to our people today. Let us ponder on these things and let his sacrifice not be in vain.