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Emotional ceremony at this year’s National Heroes Day celebration

Emotional ceremony at this year’s National Heroes Day celebration

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Tears flowed and voices quivered as delegates from the international Garifuna community addressed the gathering that honoured Chief Joseph Chatoyer last Saturday, National Heroes Day.

Representatives who were here for the March 9 to 15th International Garifuna Summit {{more}}emotionally expressed their joy to be “home” on Yuremein (St Vincent in the Garifuna language), as they spoke during the annual wreath laying ceremony, which took place at the obelisk at Dorsetshire Hill, in the area where Chatoyer is said to have been killed during a skirmish with British soldiers on March 14, 1795.

Delegates were seen shedding tears as they expressed their pride in their heritage, regardless of where they were scattered.

Following the expulsion of the Garifuna (Black Caribs) to Balliceaux just off mainland St Vincent, they were then transferred to Roatan Island off Honduras, then to other Central American islands and the rest of the world.

Bringing greetings were representatives from Guatemala, Honduras, Belize, Nicaragua and the United States. The delegates, most of whom are visiting St Vincent for the first time, all agreed that the Garifuna community exists through its culture, music, dance and food, which they are willing and able to share with their Vincentian brothers and sisters.

The delegates considered theirs a struggle which should be continued in spirit, to right the wrongs that were done to their ancestors over 200 years ago.

A song entitled “Yuremein,” which detailed the plight of the Garifuna people as they continually searched for their homeland, was sung by the delagates at the end of the address.

The presentation was part of a ceremony which also saw the students of the Dorsetshire Hill Government School perform a choral speech entitled “Chatoyer Cries,” drumming by the St Vincent and the Grenadines Drumming Academy and a rendition of “March,” the National Heritage Month theme song, performed by Glenroy “Sulle” Caesar.

Addresses were made by Zoila Ellis Browne and David “Darkie” Williams of the Garifuna International Summit Committee; Cecil Mckie, Minister of Tourism Sports and Culture; representative for the Leader of the Opposition John Horne, and Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves.

Following a citation by Miss SVG 2014 Shadiesha George, and a 21-gun salute, local and foreign dignitaries laid wreaths at the base of the obelisk, accompanied by music from the Royal St Vincent and the Grenadines Police Force band.

Other activities to commemorate National Heroes Day were staged in Greiggs, Sandy Bay, Fancy, Heritage Square, and other areas around St Vincent and the Grenadines.

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