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Thank yuh, Mannie Francis


Every time Senator Julie-Ann Fran-cess put he foot in he mouth, causing further outbreak, ah does remember his dad, Mannie Francis, ah man wid Wisdom and great Vision. We worked at de same Ministry, he at Agriculture and I by Lands and Surveys.

But before we ever met, I knew of de gentleman. It was back in de 1960’s and dey was ah Youth Rally on de Grammar School Playing Field. It was not de regular contingent of Boy Scouts, Girl Guides and so on; instead, foh de first time dey was dis new group dat town people never saw on parade.

Close to 200 kids representing some 10 -12 rural Districts “stormed” Kingstown! Did I use de ‘cuss’ word “storm?” sorry. Dis was kids, young boys and girls in uniform, foh de fuss time. Dey even had Flag and Banner wid inscription, so ah think de colours were white top wid green bottom, green scarf, clover leaf badge or crest on dey shirt. And dey had two white men in charge, dey looked far-rain (yankee), one had ah loud voice, he sounded local (Mannie), was his voice dat control dem restless kids, probably seeing town, we drew closer to get ah read. It was like ah puzzle: “4H” ah Clover Leaf in de centre, bordered wid de words “Head, Heart, Hands and Help.”

Incidentally dat was de Organ-I-nay-shun’s biggest day, Awards Time. De high point of de parade was an address by “Ah lickle Black Boy” from de Rose Hall contingent. He sounded like Prime Ministerial material and everybody wanted to know who he was. Someone hinted his name was Daniel Garraway and dat he had won de National Award foh Most Outstanding Speaker. But de 4H Discipline had already made an indelible mark on him, he is today one of SVG’s most outstanding doctors.

So what is 4H, dis noble Organ-I-nay-shun dat was started in SVG by ah humble Senior Agricultural Officer, Mannie Francis? Ah believe 4H is de American way to counter de UK’s Boy scouts and Girl Guides. But 4H had broader objectives and greater purpose, its Pledge or Motto says ah lot: “(i) I Pledge my Head to clearer Thinking. (ii) I Pledge my Heart to greater Loyalty. (iii) I Pledge my Hands to larger Service. (iv) I Pledge my Health to better Living. For my Club, my Community, my Country and my World.”

In SVG de I-dare was to have ah 4H Club in every district thru-out de country. De District Agricultural Officer’s role was pivotal, and de Head-teacher in de area was de Executive head, parents in each community were on ah support committee to provide skills, and since de Movement was to equip de youths wid Skills-foh-life, de whole community was on board. Each child had a project whether e.g. Rabbits, Chicken, Craft, Music etc. All projects were documented by de kids themselves, dey kept financial records etc. Dey were taught Parliamentary Procedures, Kodos foh de Lions but long before de Lions roared, de 4H had already made its mark among young 4H’ers in Public Speaking nation-wide.

Ah think of 4H when ah wake up dis morning to hear another murder # 32. OK, Julie-Ann sees de problem as Gang related, he could be right; but way is de solution? De PM playing fiddling wid ah letter from Dr Friday, while youths burning de un-Governable country wid gunfire. Mannie Francis was years ahead of his time, he saw all ah dis coming. So too is Arm-In Eustace wid his Spiritual, Social, Redemption Charter. While dis phase of mentally and demonically deranged killings continue; let us look ahead, invest wisely in today’s kids wid valuables fit foh ah better tomorrow. And wid dat, is gone ah gone again.

One Love Bassy

Bassy Alexander is a land surveyor, folklorist and social commentator.