Historians at Cave Hill mark SVG’s 40th Anniversary of Independence
Afi Martin
November 1, 2019
Historians at Cave Hill mark SVG’s 40th Anniversary of Independence

The Department of History and Philosophy in the Faculty of Humanities and Education at The University of the West Indies (UWI) Cave Hill Campus on Friday October 25 hosted a seminar presentation by doctoral student Afi Martin on women and the development of St Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG).

The department also used the occasion to mark the 40th anniversary of independence of St Vincent and the Grenadines.

In his opening remarks, Dr Henderson Carter, the Head of Department, urged those attending “to look back to consider the struggles that our people have endured, and the victories won along the way. I also urge you to consider another question – what can I do to advance the nation-building project in St Vincent and the Grenadines?”

Dr Carter also applauded MacShawn Phillips, an MPhil student in history under his supervision, who had returned to the island nation to kickstart this process in public service. Carter also noted that: “Besides public service, however, Phillips, Ayana Bobb and Afi Martin have set out on a journey to obtain their PhDs and, through their publication, to contribute to the development of the historiography of St Vincent and the Grenadines.”

The Head also went on to make a special plea:“I would like our Caribbean political leaders and our people in general to understand that developing nations not only need STEM for advancement, but solid histories, written from below that analyses the trajectories of our people. It is these histories that build social cohesion and inspire our people to face the global community with confidence and leave their mark on history.”

The seminar was chaired by Dr Halimah DeShong, Head of the Institute for Gender and Development Studies, Nita Barrow Unit. Carter also used his opening remarks to praise the recent appointment of DeShong, will serve as Minister Counsellor on the diplomatic staff of St Vincent and the Grenadines mission to the United Nations starting from January 2020.

“I wish to congratulate Dr Halimah DeShong and the government and the people of St Vincent and the Grenadines. In June 2019, St Vincent and the Grenadines with a population of 110,000 people, became the smallest country ever to be elected to serve as a non-permanent member of the highly prestigious United Nations Security Council. The Security Council is made up of 15 member states, five of them non-permanent.”

Carter also congratulated another UWI graduate, Dominic Brisbane, who will also serve the mission. Martin’s presentation on women’s activism in SVG in the wake of international agreements on the status of women was well received as she played clips from her oral history project with a number of Vincentian feminists. She indicated that even as gains had been made in the SVG’s accession of a number of these United Nations instruments concerning women, more work needed to be done to bring women into the project of social and political development in the island nation.

The session closed with a small concert and reception to celebrate the 40th Anniversary of Independence of St Vincent and the Grenadines. Carter noted, “There is much to celebrate and we are poised to support the efforts of the island nation to document its own history and influence on the rest of the region”.