February 22, 2013
May Norma Keizer’s life’s work never be forgotten

Fri Feb 22, 2013

It is with a profound sadness and deep sense of loss that this issue of SEARCHLIGHT pays tribute to the memory of our Founding Mother Mrs Norma Keizer, who passed away earlier this week. She was also an outstanding educator, whose achievements in this field are well documented.{{more}}

Mrs Keizer’s death, after a period of illness, is juxtaposed between Black History Month, now coming to an end, and our nation’s commemoration of National Heroes Month, in March. It is as if, in her physical departure from the stage, she was reminding us of her own role in trying to preserve and reawaken our historical past, in piloting the National Trust and in chairing the National Heroes Committee.

Norma Keizer’s life and tremendous contribution to Vincentian social development also brings to our attention that there are not only heroes, but heroines as well; that not all of our most outstanding nation builders have been male, not all have been politicians, and that there are many different aspects to a country’s development and many different roles that its citizens can play in that process.

Like most Vincentians of her time, Mrs Keizer came from humble origins, indeed, who black Vincentian born in the thirties would not have originated in similar circumstances? Yet, in spite of her impressive achievements and life work, she never lost her humility, that almost self-effacing characteristic of hers. There was a certain serene quietness about her which belied her steely resolve, perhaps best exhibited when she stepped outside her traditional educator’s garb on retirement, and, albeit reluctantly, agreed to perform the role of Managing Editor of SEARCHLIGHT.

True, she had contributed to journals during her career, but this was a very different challenge, to edit and manage a weekly newspaper in a competitive Vincentian climate. In spite of the early predictions that there was “no room for a third weekly newspaper” (along the two then existing), Mrs Keizer revealed another side to her character, by successfully taking on the steep learning curve, by shrugging off the frustrations and surmounting the obstacles. In the process, she has left a legacy of not only a newspaper, but a successful and enterprising media organisation — Interactive Media Ltd. We will forever be grateful to her peerless contribution in this regard.

Historically, there have not been many women in leadership positions in the print media; in fact outside radio, not many prominent in the Vincentian media, period. Norma Keizer, like the late Mrs Nora Peacocke of the VINCENTIAN newspaper, certainly left her mark in this field, and has blazed a trail for aspiring Vincentian female media practitioners to follow.

Hers are really big boots to fill. Her role, not just as an educator but a counsellor, a source of inspiration to young females, is now legendary. She helped to forge a strong bond at the Girls’ High School with the Parent Teacher body, inspiring it to become one of the most proactive of such institutions and to contribute significantly towards enhancing the physical and social structure of the school. Her innovations included the introduction of the steelpan, an act which would have been considered taboo at the old colonial Girls’ High School.

Her interest in and love for history are well-known, and in addition to her academic responsibilities, she made sterling contributions in helping to build and develop the National Trust, in the documentation of our historic and natural sites and in her willingness to share her passion in this regard. These are important contributions to our national legacy.

As we mourn her loss, we extend our sincere condolences to her family, our current Managing Editor in particular, one of Mrs Keizer’s own daughters, Clare, left to fill the void without the guidance. St Vincent and the Grenadines has lost one of its most outstanding daughters. May her life’s work be never forgotten!