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No peer for first National Hero

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25.MAR.11

Editor: A proclamation of parliament in 2002 designated MARCH 14th as National Heroes’ Day in SVG! The date was so chosen in honour of the country’s only National Hero Joseph Chatoyer, a warrior who staunchly defended the Carib people from colonial rule.{{more}} Interestingly, Chief Chatoyer’s exploits have since earned him the unprecedented distinction of national hero status in three territories. This unique accolade is testament to the phenomenal accomplishments of a shrewd and dynamic ruler who led his resilient people with distinction.

It must be noted that Chatoyer’s military exploits transcended territories since in essence he was a defender of the Carib nation which lengthened throughout the southern tail of the Caribbean archipelago. He not only showed tenacity in leadership but also displayed savvy and resourcefulness, especially during war. Unlike Duvalle’s strategy of plunder and destruction, this crafty leader adopted a policy of securing the spoils of war to enrich his people. His leadership was respected to the extent that he marshalled French troops in battle against the marauding British.

Many viewed it as an historical accident that Yuremei was the main fortress of the Carib nation. However, the pivotal role it played in the Carib rebellion against colonialism must be scrutinized and understood in its true historical context. This reality is magnified by the fact that Joseph Chatoyer is yet to be peered as a Vincentian National Hero, 177 years since the emancipation of slavery and 31 years of political independence.

We have since retrogressed as a people to the depth that the closest pretenders to National Hero’s status are a Portuguese descendant and a mulatto of European persuasion. Unfortunately, these same individuals lack the political will to advance the causes of more worthwhile candidates such as Hugh Mulzac and George McIntosh. Indeed, I firmly believe that the next Vincentian National Hero must be the embodiment of the Vincentian heritage, both in ethnicity and history. Hugh Mulzac is my automatic choice, given his legacy of courage, fierce determination and accomplishments in the face of racial discrimination and hardship. However, the downside to this is that this pioneer spent most of his life in the service of Uncle Sam.

George McIntosh is another strong contender bandied around town. His selfless service as a humanitarian, philanthropist and political pioneer should factor heavily in our national deliberations. Unfortunately, his heroics have gradually sunk into the abyss of Vincentian oblivion to be replaced by political idolatry. Apart from these distinguished gentlemen, we are left scraping the barrel to locate any notable pre-emancipation national hero. This is why we continue to get caught up in the cycle of demagoguery, exalting politicians who were elected to be servants of the people to dizzy deity heights. It is on this premise that I strongly oppose any call to elevate any person of such ilk to national hero status.

The seed of political tribalism sown by Ebenezer Joshua, replenished by Sir Robert and James, and harvested by the Doc has split our peace-loving land into two warring factions. Their focus on maintaining political bases at the expense of national integration has battered Hairouna into a submissive pulp. Oh, how Chatoyer must be rolling in his grave at these excuses for National Heroes! They most certainly do not exude the ideals of our paramount and proud fore-father.

Collin CA$H Haywood

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