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What are you giving to the country you profess to love?

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Tue Sep 09, 2014

Editor: When I first reconnected with Vincentians and the politics on Facebook, I heard stories about how the Prime Minister, Dr Ralph Gonsalves was a monster and a dictator. My reconnect with Vincentians occurred due to tragedy, and my willingness to always offer help landed me in the midst of what appeared to be a destructive conflict.{{more}} I had just returned from Brooklyn a few days before, where I went to made a donation to help Vincentians who were affected by an act of nature that proved deadly on Christmas Day 2013.

Just about a week earlier, I had neurosurgery to correct a herniated disc in the cervical region of my spine. So, I was home recuperating and had a lot of time to engage on Facebook, where I became aware of the situation in St Vincent and the Grenadines. Despite my situation, I wanted to help. I felt it was my duty as a Vincentian to help my people when they are in need and this was certainly a time that they had great need.

After I had gone to Brooklyn and happily made my donation, I wandered accidentally on a Facebook thread, where there was a heated debate about the government failures in properly warning the Vincentian public about the weather conditions and how the money from the donations was going to be misused.

I joined in the debate and chastised the individuals for being so mean spirited, selfish and contentious during a time when every Vincentian should shut their mouths, roll up their sleeves and get to work. I was immediately tagged as a ULP supporter. I had no idea what ULP was and who Ralph Gonsalves was.

Eventually, I would learn all about Ralph Gonsalves and the allegations of rape made against him. I must tell you, I am no fan of rapists, because I was an almost victim of rape and I suffered the effects similarly to someone who has actually been raped. I can tell you that it is not a good experience. It can destroy a woman’s self-confidence and cause her to suffer emotionally all her life, if she does not receive the proper help to heal from the pain.

After hearing these stories, I was beginning to think that the Prime Minister must indeed be a monster. However, as time went by, I noticed that many of the allegations that were made about Gonsalves could not be true. My husband found a UN Report that listed St Vincent and the Grenadines at number three in the world for rapes. I said to myself “Gonsalves is not accused of raping all of these people and it would be statistically impossible for him to do.” Thus, the country must be infested with rapists. Some of the individuals who are accusing Gonsalves must be rapists themselves. I recall my own personal experience which occurred when Gonsalves was an unknown persona to Vincentians. I also recall other rape situations in St Vincent that occurred then and began to realize that rape is not a Gonsalves problem. It’s a Vincentian problem that is rooted in the misogynistic culture that is rampant in St Vincent. In Hilary McD Beckles book, “The British Black Debt” he talks about conflict between Kalinagos and Africans in St Vincent, based on alleged misogynistic behaviours of African men towards Kalinago women. Thus St Vincent appears to have had a misogynistic culture from the time Africans came to the island. Rape is an offspring of this inherent misogynistic culture.

I began to view Gonsalves and every other Vincentian as victims of this misogynistic culture. Therefore, the label of monster began to fade and I saw him as human. I saw that he was not a dictator like folks had labelled him. The fact that Vincentians who live in St Vincent can call him a dictator is sufficient evidence to prove that he is no dictator. I learned that he is a kind and caring man, from his efforts to help the poor to obtain housing and food. I learned that he is forgiving, from his interactions with folks who have criticized him, myself included.

He has a love for Vincentians that is crystal clear in his endeavours to obtain healing for the descendants of slaves via reparations. He is of European descent and like others of European descent, he could have chosen to ignore the residual effects slavery has had on our people and brushed it off as “the past.” He has demonstrated that he is a pioneer and a biblical David in going up against The British, who are the Goliath of the world in an effort to force the British to acknowledge the wrongs they committed against Africans. Only someone who is motivated by real love can be so fearless. Vincentians, you are blessed to have a leader like Dr. Ralph Gonsalves. But, sadly many of you are to filled with hate to recognize real love when you see it.

St Vincent is an underdeveloped country. It will require help from every Vincentian to make it a strong and economically viable nation. It’s easy to criticize the efforts of others while you comfortably sit back and do nothing to help the situation. If you are a Vincentian and you can identify a problem, it is your obligation to look for a solution. It’s easy to say “I love my country.” Words are free and cheap. Actions are a little more expensive and time consuming. There will always be problems even in the richest countries. It is impossible for any government to solve all of the problems. Patriots help their countries by volunteering. They do it for love rather than money. However, there is a sect within the Vincentian community that is advising people not to volunteer because they should not work for free. These people claim to love St. Vincent, but their words prove them to be liars. They are consumed with hate and they are destructive. When you love, you want to help and you don’t look for anything in return. John 3:16 said “For God so loved the world that he gave us his ONLY begotted son.” What are you giving to the country you profess to love?

Helena R Edwards

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