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Why was the former Chief Minister’s burial site allowed to fall into disrepair?

Why was the former Chief Minister’s burial site allowed to fall into disrepair?


Leading trade unionist Noel Jackson has expressed disappointment that the burial site of Ebenezer Theodore Joshua had been allowed to fall into disrepair over the years.

Speaking at a remembrance ceremony on March 17 to celebrate the life and times of the former chief minister, Jackson urged Vincentians to {{more}}preserve and protect local heritage by passing on information and customs to the younger generations.

The ceremony, held at the Kingstown Cemetery Chapel, was attended by family, friends and other members of the public who had also gathered to witness the unveiling of the refurbishment of the former chief minister’s grave.

“We need to do something as citizens of this country to ensure that we can preserve our heritage; protect what we have… it is part of us!” he insisted.

Explaining that the renovation of Joshua’s grave – where his wife Ivy Joshua also lies – was made possible by the financial assistance of the board of the Solidarity In Action car park, Jackson said that he was disappointed that it had been allowed to fall into such a bad condition.

The trade union head said that in his travels around the globe, he has noticed that other cultures strive to preserve elements of their traditions and history that Vincentians often let fall to ruin.

“We ought to change that,” said Jackson. “We ought to improve on that!”

Describing Joshua as “a champion for the working people,” Jackson further pointed out that the former politician was responsible for introducing modern trade unionism to St Vincent and the Grenadines by establishing a “formula for collective bargaining.”

Referring to his decades of work within the trade union, Jackson said: “I have had to build on the foundation that Ebenezer Joshua established.”

He also lamented the fact that despite Joshua’s hard work and dedication as a parliamentary representative and chief minister, he died almost penniless, because gaining material wealth was not on his agenda.

“There are politicians who would have gone into government, and after five years you see them flying high… He could have [got] all the land in the world… but he had none because that was not his focus,” explained Jackson.

“His focus was to represent the poor and the underprivileged. That’s why he was so dear to the Spiritual Baptist movement… he embraced them!”

Speaking to family members who were present at the event, Jackson said that they are part of something important in the history of St Vincent and the Grenadines.

“Ebenzer did not leave riches for you, but he left you wealth. He left his name, and his name is etched in the hearts of a lot of Vincentians.”

Jackson also lauded René Baptiste, who was present at the event, for spearheading the thrust to focus on Joshua’s invaluable contributions to the development of SVG.

Chief cultural officer Anthony Theobalds emceed the event.

Ebenezer T Joshua was SVG’s first Chief Minister, holding the position from 1956 to 1967. He was born on May 23, 1908, and died on March 14, 1991.(JSV)