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Patriot’s passing gives greater impetus to national heroes month

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I join belatedly in the many tributes to the late Dr Edgar ‘Doc’ Adams who was buried on Monday of this week, and express my condolences, not only to his bereaving family, but to the people of St Vincent and the Grenadines as a whole. ‘Doc’ was a patriot, par excellence, a cultural icon, and every word written or spoken in tribute is well deserved. What more can I say?He was one of our cultural icons, yet to the end he remained humble, simple and as witty as ever. He has joined so many other outstanding writers and cultural artistes that have gone before him. In memory, not possessing poetic skills, I can only say, that, “IF ONLY the rest of us were gifted with the brilliance of the poet Tim (Daisy), IF ONLY we had the courage of Danny (Williams), IF ONLY we had the undying patriotism of Oscar (Allen), and IF ONLY we were blessed with the creativity of ‘Doc’, then we and our country would be much better off today.”

As it is, even as we celebrate Doc’s outstanding sojourn here on earth, and mourn his passing, the calls for him to be fittingly honoured is one with which I fully associate. It has again brought to the fore the issue of national honours, right on the eve of National Heroes Month. Indeed, the matter takes on special significance in this, the 40th anniversary of our reclamation of our national independence.

The government has spoken of a programme of “Renewal” to mark the occasion, but two months have already passed. Over the 18 years of its governance, it has yet to live up to the early promise in making progress on such critical issues as National Dress, National Honours, National Dish and such important symbols of our identity. Perhaps Doc’s passing can serve to awaken it from its sonorous slumber and force it to act in this direction. That would be a positive contribution to Renewal@40.

Permit me, also belatedly, to pay my own tribute to the memory of a Vincentian sister, who while not as well known as “Doc”, also made her own contribution towards enriching our civilisation and who, even as a migrant in the USA, kept the flag of SVG and patriotism flying high. Maureen King of Diamonds, became yet another of a special and treasured group from that area to depart us, having died in New York and being buried there two weeks ago.

From her youth she set out to seek the path of resistance to colonial teachings and to her end made very valuable contributions to nation-building which continued even while she was in the veritable “belly of the beast”. She will be missed, but more so, remembered by all who knew and valued her work as an outstanding Vincentian woman. Farewell my Sister!

ANOTHER NATIONAL HEROES MONTH

Today, March 1, marks the beginning of the month that is officially commemorated as National Heroes Month in St Vincent and the Grenadines. Central to its activities is March 14, National Heroes Day, observing the date when our sole National Hero, the Right Honourable Josef Chatoyer, was killed by the British colonialists in 1795.

Strangely, for a sole National Hero, we have only a single obelisk at Dorsetshire Hill, the supposed site of his murder, and a portrait at the Argyle International Airport as symbols of his immense contribution to the defence of the independence of our country. In spite of all the good intentions expressed by successive governments, we have collectively fallen short in commemorating and remembering Chatoyer’s herculean contribution and the brave resistance of the Garifuna people to British and European domination.

Fortunately the Garifuna Heritage Foundation has been valiantly endeavouring to keep the flag of our resistance flying and, but for some early misunderstanding with the government, has been making strides in keeping the Garifuna history and culture alive. It organizes an annual International Garifuna Conference as the centrepiece of its March activities, the 2019 version being the sixth in the series.

Its activities deserve greater support from us all and it will be pleased to note that its efforts are bearing fruit. The Garifuna Foundation has placed emphasis on the revival and the preservation of the Garifuna culture, its language being an important aspect. It will therefore be greatly encouraged by the United Nations’ designation of the year 2019 as Year of Indigenous Languages.

We still have a long way to go as a people in reclaiming our identity, writing OUR STORY and not His-story. We owe it to the memory and life work of patriots like ‘Doc’ to show greater commitment and devotion to duty, and to give greater meaning to National Heroes Month.

Renwick Rose is a community activist and social commentator.

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