Dr. Fraser- Point of View
December 27, 2013
Our public officials must stop lying!

Something is rotten in our State, if I am to borrow from William Shakespeare; not Denmark, but SVG! I have tried for some time now to force a conversation about the state of our society, on how we relate to one another, our failure to speak truth to power, our loss of a sense of what is right from what is wrong, and the way we attempt to rationalize and to accept all the ills that political power commits. The young have no moral guidance and just about anything goes. As the year grinds to an end, one thing above all else demonstrates what I have being talking about. It is about what I care to call the controversy about the hundredth anniversary of “Nine Mornings”.{{more}}

I am happy to see that some people have been questioning the fictitious “hundredth anniversary”. The Searchlight newspaper, in its editorial of December 13, issued a challenge to the authorities to provide evidence to support their claim that this year is the hundredth anniversary of “Nine Mornings”. I eagerly awaited their response. It came in an interview that the chairman of the “Nine Mornings” Committee had with Kenton Chance of I Witness News. According to Kenton Chance, the “…chair of the National “Nine Mornings” Committee… acknowledged that there is no agreement on when “Nine Mornings” started but said that 100 years ago, the festival was legalized.

“… in 1912, the Government of St Vincent and the Grenadines, through the police, gave permission, legalized whatever was happening. So, from 1913 onward, it became legal. The dates were stipulated, from the 14th to the 24th, the time was stipulated, from 5 to 6 in the morning.

“So, what we are celebrating is the 100th anniversary of what legally became Nine Mornings in St Vincent and the Grenadines,”

THIS IS A LIE! It cannot be attributed to ignorance, but is a dirty lie, meant to cover up the original mistake. In fact, it was not a mistake, but was deliberately done without thinking that anyone would have questioned it. We have grown so accustomed to taking whatever is thrown at us and accepting as fact anything said that they became disarmed when there was a response. But public officials should not be telling such bare-faced lies to the public and taking the nation along with them. This is totally absurd. Is this what our nation has come to, so that one can tell such lies in public and not be taken to task about it? Visitors will take this back to wherever they go and help to spread the Big Lie.

Now, my rebuttal! The regulations governing the early morning pre-Christmas celebrations had been in existence at least since the 1890s. The Police had annually been providing notices about the regulations. This did not start in 1912. There was nothing new or unusual about those in 1912. These are the regulations published as a Notice by E.D LaBorde, Chief of Police, on November 30, 1899 for Christmas 1899. “Bands, Singing Processions and other holiday gatherings will be permitted in the streets of Kingstown and other towns from Monday 18th December to Saturday 6th January next from 5 a.m. to 8 a.m. except on Christmas Day, New Year, and the following Tuesday when the time shall be extended from 4 a.m. to 9 p.m. provided that there shall be a cessation on Christmas Day during the hours of Divine Service. Until the 20th December no Holiday Bands shall be allowed in Kingstown except on Saturday mornings from 5 to 8 a.m.”

1912 was no different from 1899 or for the years following, except that for 1912 the date started from the 14th. The starting dates changed for different years. For 1913 the starting date was December 20, not the 14th; for 1906, December 17; for 1901, December 16 and for 1930, December 14. They all, however, went up to the day after the New Year holiday.

For me, historical truth is paramount, but a falsehood has now become truth and will find a place in our record books. Songs have been sung about the hundredth anniversary. It has formed part of the theme of “Nine Mornings” in the different communities. Historical truth has been a casualty and the nation has been embarrassed, but what is even more significant is the fact that our public institutions and officials can commit such blatant fraud, make fools of us and get away with it. But it appears that this is what our nation is now all about. We manufacture truth. We say things without being concerned about the implications because power is supposed to speak truth or turn falsehood into truth, fiction into reality. Maybe we like it so. This is for me a serious offence. How do we accept now what is told to us in face of such violent disregard for truth and such deliberate manufacturing of an occasion? Don’t we deserve better? Should we not hold our public officials to account? It seems not! We obviously accept this nonsense, for to me, silence breeds consent. This is certainly not the SVG I knew, or perhaps thought I knew. Our people have survived Slavery and Colonialism. Our forefathers fought against injustice. Today anything goes! Something is certainly wrong in the State. Something is seriously wrong with us, the citizens of a country that has now gone through 34 years as an independent entity. Perhaps lying has become our national pastime, something else, perhaps, to put in our record books even though it might not necessarily be unique. What a country! Something is indeed rotten and stinks! I can smell it. I hope you do, too.

Dr Adrian Fraser is a social commentator and historian.