November 23, 2007
Vincy author: Reflection on ‘national heroes’

by Nelson A. King in New York 23.NOV.07

A Vincentian author in the United States has urged her compatriots to seriously reflect on the role played by their “national heroes” in order to “fully appreciate the significance of independence.”

Delivering the keynote address, during independence celebrations on November 3, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Cheryl L.A. King, author of “Michael Manley & Democratic Socialism: Political Leadership and Ideology in Jamaica,” said whenever reference is made about civilizations, it conjures up images of the late Indian leader, Mahatma Gandhi.{{more}}

“When asked what he thought about western civilization, [he] said, ‘it is a good idea,’” said King, who works at the library at Drew University in Madison, N.J., about Ghandi, alluding also to St. Vincent and the Grenadines 2007 independence anniversary theme, “28 Years as a Nation: Building a Modern Civilization.”

“But before we could do that, we have to first recollect where we are coming from in our history,” added King, speaking on the topic, “The Road to Independence in St. Vincent and the Grenadines,” at the gala independence dinner, organized by the St. Vincent and the Grenadines’ Organization of Pennsylvania.

“We have to go back to pre-colonial times and colonial times to fully appreciate the significance of independence,” she continued.

Starting with the only official national hero, Paramount Carib Chief Joseph Chatoyer, King, co-editor of “Search for Identity: Essays on St. Vincent and the Grenadines” and “Quest For Caribbean Unity: Beyond Colonialism,” said the road to independence in her native land “has not always been a smooth one.”

“‘He struggled to prevent European penetration and to maintain the sovereignty of this country [St. Vincent and the Grenadines] and later on to recover its independence,’” she said about Chatoyer, quoting from the booklet, “Chatoyer,” written by Vincentian historian, Dr. Adrian Fraser.

“‘The fact that he was able to do so with military technology that was inferior to that of the Europeans speaks well for his spirit, confidence and intelligence,’” added the former Girls High School student.

“‘He has lessons to teach us today, that all is not lost, and small size does not necessarily translate into subjugation,’” she continued. “Our challenges today are different ones, but we will be able to stand up to them if we understand Chatoyer and become inspired by his spirit, determination and strength.”

Chatoyer, who died on March 14, 1795, during the Second Carib War against the British, was not named National Hero until March 14, 2002, under the Order of National Heroes Act, 2002.

King pointed to George McIntosh, George Hamilton Charles, Ebenezer Theodore Joshua, James Mitchell (“briefly”) and Robert Milton Cato, as local political figures who, she said, were “instrumental on the road to independence of St. Vincent and the Grenadines.”

“These are [were] the political leaders who, in their own way, laid down the ground work for political independence in the modern era,” she said.

“Now, the challenge remains up to us to move forward positively,” she added.