Dr. Fraser- Point of View
September 27, 2013

When will this madness stop – the Nine Mornings absurdity; the Lions Club South Public Speaking attempted coup?

So, the Ministry of Culture is going ahead with its mad effort to rewrite history in its own image and to disrespect our country and its culture? Do they have any regard for the country and for their own validity? Now, let us look at what the Tin Gods in the Ministry have dished out for us. They have deemed 2013 as the “Nine Mornings” 100th anniversary year. Deemed is an interesting word. It means assumed, presumed, supposed and conjectured. After careful research, according to them, they have narrowed down the origin of “Nine Mornings” to the 1900s – that, of course, is somewhere between 1900 and 1999. But after more careful research, I assume, they have narrowed it down further to somewhere between 1913 and 1919. Some kind of research this!{{more}}

They state that there are two theories about the origin; one which they have accepted without telling us why, is that it was attributed to the “Novenas Catholics”. We are told further that “the records from the Church itself suggest that the date of 1913 was the most probable date hence the embracing of 1913” What tomfoolery is this? The church records cannot tell us when Nine Mornings started. It would appear that having assumed that the beginning of “Nine Mornings” is associated with the Catholic Novena they are of the view that the Catholic Novena, started here in 1913, hence Nine Mornings in 1913. I am not even sure that the Catholic Novena started here in 1913. Let us, however, make some assumptions that it did and go on furthermore to assume that it had something to do with the start of “Nine Mornings”, this still does not tell us anything, because it could have started 20 years after, not necessarily the same year. But those are assumptions with little factual basis.

Without hard evidence saying otherwise, I am puzzled that a minority religion in 1913 could have had such an impact. The Anglican population in 1911 was 19,932, the Methodists 16,096 and the Roman Catholics 3,405. “Nine Mornings” did not take root in the Catholic countries such as St Lucia and Dominica. What was therefore unique about St Vincent? Let us picture what it was like in 1913. The Shaker religion had just been banned. Apart from the collapse of sugar, the planters still reigned supreme. Kingstown had a population of less than 2,000. As I said previously, there was no electricity in Kingstown, there were only street lamps. The businesses, whatever they were, could not keep lights in their establishments after closing time. Those few persons who would have been going to church on a regular basis would probably have been going by horse. We have an environment very unlikely to have given rise to “Nine Mornings,” even if, as I had mentioned previously, it might have had a different dimension than that of the 1950s and ’60s that we know much more about.

The Ministry states with very “bold face,” “that is the closest we can come to an approximation and starting date hence this year is a special year.” My Lord, we have gone completely off the tube. But the country will accept it, so why not do it? What a country! What 100th anniversary will we celebrate next year? Bet your life the Ministry will find one.

Lions Club South Public Speaking Attempted Coup

This again is another sign of the times. When I read the story of the Club’s 2013 Secondary Public Speaking Competition, I really could not believe it. I was heartened, however, by the position taken by the Club when they reacted to the Ministry’s interference that they labelled “high-handed.” We have to stop this unwarranted encroachment on the affairs of private organisations and people. My understanding is that the Lions Club South, as they normally do, submitted a list of topics to the Ministry of Education for dissemination to the schools involved. They got a response from the Ministry indicating changes that they made to the topics.

Topic 1: “The regularity, intensity and nature of crimes committed in SVG is causing panic among the citizenry of the State:” The Ministry’s revised topic, “The commission of serious crimes in SVG has not yet reached the level of causing panic among the citizenry of the state”. It is as though they are sending a signal to criminals that they can persist in what they are doing, since the level of crimes has not yet reached panic state.

Topic 2: “SVG no longer produces athletes and sports persons fit for the international arena.” The Ministry – “The production of athletes and sports persons in SVG for international competition is on the rise.” As The News pointed out the changes to the first two topics are directly opposite to what was intended by the Lions, granted too as they noted, students are expected to take any position they wanted to.

Topic 3 is interesting. “The call for reparation should be driven by overwhelming public opinion and not by politicians.” The Ministry has changed the whole intent of this topic- “The call for Reparation for native genocide and slavery is in effect a summons for the righting of historical wrongs.”

Have these people gone crazy! The Lions Club has been organising this competition for about 20 years, why is then the need to dictate the topics that the children must be asked to speak on? The Ministry indicated that the revisions they dictated “allow for greater scope and depth for academic engagement and for logical, reasoned argument to be presented to the students.” Utter nonsense!

The competition is not a Ministry competition, why do they feel it necessary to change the topics selected by the organisers and to do so without even having a discussion with them? The Lions should not succumb to any dictates of this nature. What kind of students do they want to graduate? Why do the Ministries of Culture and Education take it upon themselves to determine what should be?

Dr Adrian Fraser is a social commentator and historian.