March 20, 2009
Joshua up for National Hero

Once the green light is given by Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves, the late Ebenezer Theodore Joshua will be named as the second national Hero of St Vincent and the Grenadines.{{more}}

Minister of Culture Rene Baptiste revealed this as she spoke to an intimate gathering at the Sion Hill intersection as part of the celebrations for National Heroes and Heritage Month last Thursday March 12, 2009.

Minister Baptiste disclosed that last year, she wrote to the Prime Minister recommending that Joshua be considered for elevation to the status of national hero. Baptiste said that the Prime Minister agreed with her submission, and she is currently awaiting an official announcement from him.

Speaking on the Joshua’s legacy, Baptiste recalled the days when Joshua, this country’s first Chief Minister, fought against the colonial powers when this country was under rule of the British. The Culture Minister further noted that many have forgotten the good fight fought by Joshua and are just sitting and relaxing today. “It was just over 50 years ago and we have already forgotten the works of this great man,” she noted.

Born on May 23, 1908, Joshua had his roots in the trade union movement, having been a member of the United Workers Progressive Union (UWPU) and the Federated Industrial and Agricultural Workers Union (FIAWU). In 1951, Joshua was victorious in the General Elections as a member of the Eight Army of Liberation. He went on to form the People’s Political Party (PPP) the following year. Many described Joshua as a fighter who struggled against the anti-working class practices of the plantocracy, for the rights of workers and for improvements in the working and living condition of the poor and downtrodden, until his death in 1991.

Sharing some brief remarks at the event, veteran trade unionist and talk show host Joseph “Burns” Bonadie recalled the days when persons used to work for $1 a day. He said it was Joshua who was instrumental in the government passing the first minimum wage act in 1955. Bonadie also noted that we are enjoying the fruits of Joshua’s labour today and his contribution must be treasured for years to come. “The people of Sion Hill should be proud that a man of such quality came from this neighbourhood and made a contribution to building this nation,” Bonadie added.

President of the National Workers Movement (NWM) Noel Jackson said that he would love to see the day when he could call Joshua the next national hero of St Vincent and the Grenadines. Jackson also lobbied for Joshua’s life to be taught in schools throughout the nation. “Ebenezer deserves to be honoured by the state as a national hero. He has done a lot to deserve this honour,” Jackson said.

Brief remarks were also made by Joshua’s granddaughter Shonnette Johnson, who described her grandfather as a man who stood up for what he believed in and fought for the people of his country.