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His Excellency, Ambassador Renwick Rose


by Dr. Richard A.Byron-Cox 11.APR.08

In early childhood, my mother taught me that a rose by any other name is still a rose. So white, pink, red and Renwick are roses. But Renwick is no ordinary rose. This Rose is of the patriotic (not to be confused with deceitful rhetoric peddled for personal glory), long-suffering and resistant breed with unparallel zeal to flower this our SVG garden. His petals are a display of selfless service that blooms in commitment to our people’s struggles and the beauty of which finds highest expression in contributing to our nation’s progress.{{more}} His fragrance is an unshakable belief in social justice, especially for the underprivileged, which he diffuses, perfuming our national consciousness with the idea that we are all our brother’s keeper. And like an excellent bottle of Rose wine, aging is simply an adorning maturity.

I must have been 9 or 10 when I first saw this mere “boy” sitting among students who looked to me about his age, teaching under a big tree at Bishops’ College. I realized he was the teacher, for the others called him “Mr. Rose.” I was transfixed. I couldn’t comprehend how someone so young could be a teacher, edifying people his own age. After they gathered their chairs and went in, I stood gazing at the school, wondering how I could be like him. This is a quality of all roses; so lovely, you want to be like them.

My early political shoots spouted in the late 70s when the sweet scent of independence was in the air. This sweet smell was enhanced by “Freedom” and later “Justice,” both edited by a Rose; yes, Renwick. During this period, he would prove to be an “all-seasons rose,” withstanding bad weather which arrived with the tear-gassing of teachers; intensified to the cold winter of the “strongest government in the world,” symbolized, inter alia, by an administration run by thugs. This political climate change brought a serious threat of a drought on democracy, with the introduction of the “Dread Bills.” Yet, this Rose refused to fade. Indeed even the soil on which he stood was dug up in a futile attempt to unearth “subversive literature.” But this Rose did not pull up roots and transplant. No! He instinctively knew that their efforts to uproot him would break slips that would grow into new plants. So, Jomo, Bobb and others appeared, and the patriotic fragrance diffused wider. It was as if he also knew that this Rose had to stay to bloom as part of the silver lining, which inevitably follows bad weather. So in place of withering, like a Rose of Sharon he busted out in late spring, defying predictions that the weeds of Labour would choke him to death.

Labour feared his prickles, not because of size but rather their strength of conviction that political diversity and variety were important to maintaining Hairoun as “Nature’s Splendour.” Small wonder he now leads the battle to protect our bananas from the stretching tentacles of the strangling vines of that jungle called globalisation. Usually all shrubs die due to the canopy formed by the giants that populate this jungle. Thanks to his prickles of resistance and determination, this Rose punctures the canopy, securing light for bananas and other crops that like him share plots on this, the Gem of the Antilles.

So the Windward farmers chose this Rose shrub to lead them in battle against this jungle. His performance here has been medal-winning, both regionally and internationally, as he has succeeded in making things more rosy for bananas. Little brother Dexter, SVG’s Ambassador to Cuba, publicly admits the he is standing on many shoulders, including that of Renwick. In short, the versatility of this Rose, like all others, in bringing good and beauty to his surroundings, is universally acknowledged. Or is it?

It is the reasoned view of this writer that this Rose is the diplomatic flower of our nation, and, a parliamentary commission making Renwick SVG’s Ambassador at large is many moons overdue. This humble, little Vincentian Rose shrub that has so perfumed our society and decorated our nation internationally should be thus elevated but without the stain of red rage or yellow fever. So this is a task for Parliament. And this is not just my view. Before launching “Were Mama’s Tears”, I discussed with Dr. Kenneth John, eminent historian and our greatest man of letters, and His Excellency Cenio Lewis, High Commissioner to the Court of St. James, recognition of Renwick. They both applauded my idea. The former advised that he could think of no one more deserving, while the latter remarked that Renwick is an eternal wellspring of patriotism.

But what is a rose without modesty? And Renwick fits the bill to a T. Indeed when I told him of the idea he staunchly rejected it as ill advised and unnecessary. I pleaded, indicating that highlighting his work would inspire younger ones. And I am dead sure that if the Parliament sees the wisdom of my suggestion (yes, I know I’m dreaming), for this Rose it would not be an accolade but merely a facility for him to enhance this our SVG garden by attracting more humming birds, bees and the like, thus ensuring, inter alia, pollination and honey production in this “The Home of the Blessed.” I am sure, for as I wrote in the copy of my book presented to him:

To one who is a living demonstration that true patriotism glories in only one reward: More opportunities to serve his country and people.

That is what making him our ambassador at large will facilitate. I know he seeks no other reward.

  • Richard A. Byron-Cox is an international law specialist and author of the book “Were Mama’s Tears in Vain?”