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Review of Herlon Phillips’ book: ‘The Renaissance of Hairoun’

Review of Herlon Phillips’ book: ‘The Renaissance of Hairoun’


by Colin King Tue, Jan 10. 2012

Gone are the days when you could hop down to the Wayfarer bookstore on Bay St. and purchase quality fiction and indigenous reading materials.{{more}} Truth is, we now have a National Library which seems to be the main source for the few and the faithful who love a great read, preferring it to the passive process, often indoctrinary, of modern media.

A few Vincentian authors are keeping the faith, producing, especially non-fiction of quality. One such writer is Herlon Phillips, retired seaman and business administrator, who has penned thus far three works: the socio-political ‘(The) Cradle of Caribbean Civilisation’, and ‘The Mundane and the Exquisite’. These two precursors herald the newly published ‘The Renaissance of Hairoun,’ released in December 2011.

The book consists of chapter essays covering an historical bird’s eye view of Kingstown, profiles on six key political figures past and present, and in addendum, looks at the Banana industry from past to present, and also features a touristy look at La Soufriere volcano.

Phillips clearly has a talent for economy in writing and uses a textbook approach which is clear and should appeal to teens as well as the mature. He also has a talent for going beyond bias.

In the ‘Battle of Colonialism’ chapter, founding father E.T. Joshua is featured as advocate of the people, especially the working class, and enemy of the governing British plantocracy.

In ‘Father of Independence’ Milton Cato figures as a moderate socialist, who nonetheless practiced and embraced Capitalism. This is colorfully highlighted by two instances in the chapter. I quote: ‘He was vehemently critical of the Marxist theory, instead he aligned himself with Western capitalism… (as a moderate socialist……he emulated) Eric Williams who was a prominent politician in Trinidad’. The same chapter goes on to say ‘When the Black power Movement was emerging in the 1970s, Cato was very adamant that they should patronize his type of socialist leadership as opposed to that of Marxism…’ of which he was a critic.

The chapter on former Prime Minister James F. Mitchell follows his career and highlights little-known to the layman intellectual achievements, his British Columbia University award for a distinguished career and his honour from Venezuela: ‘Order of Liberator’.

Phillips takes an unbiased look at the accomplishments of SVG’s leaders, which changes tone and type, even style, based on the orientation of the leader’s politics of the day.

In his description of PM Ralph Gonsalves’ political journey, we get specific noteworthy milestones. his childhood in Colonarie, his University professorships in Jamaica, Barbados and New York, his political journalism career, and he engages us with his… ‘Noble undertaking (leading) a massive demonstration in Kingston, Jamaica, for the banning of university lecturer Dr Walter Rodney. Gonsalves became a face of political activism from thenceforth….’ The chapter also mentions his 2003 milestone of universal access to secondary education on the island.

Says Phillips: ‘Gonsalves has a wide vista of knowledge which he uses to pulverize his opponent’.

The book also highlights Arnhim Eustace, who Phillips calls ‘The economic Leader’, and gives surprising merit to Ivan Oneal’s career and Green Party.

The book is an excellent and less than 50 page long resource, also for tourists and visitors, and gives an encapsulated, relevant look at our political history and key figures at the reins.