“Kaba lanuga haruga, Wawan seru uba”.
This phrase written in Garifuna translates to the first two lines in the chorus of the national anthem of St Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG). And it may be easily interpreted by this nation’s student population in the near future, if all goes according to the government’s plans to introduce the indigenous language as part of the curriculum in schools.
“Currently our government is embarking on a project by four local historians to document our real story, the history of our country and the struggle of our people. Our story must be told and must be told by us. It is my hope that we can see the introduction of the Garifuna language in our schools and I’m hoping we can begin work on this initiative in the not too distant future,” tourism minister, Carlos James said on Monday during the annual National Heroes Day wreath laying ceremony at the Obelisk in Dorsetshire Hill to honour this country’s first national hero, Paramount Chief, Joseph Chatoyer.
Physical and virtual attendees alike were able to witness this country’s national anthem being sung in the Garifuna language at the start of the ceremony on Monday— something not often practised locally though SVG or ‘Yuremein’ is widely recognised as being the homeland of the Garifuna people.
James, in his speech, encouraged Vincentians to raise their level of consciousness and put aside divisive attitudes in an effort to “recognise those who made the sacrifices for our freedom” by paying it forward and continuing the struggle for social justice.
“The struggle demands self sacrifice and courage. It demands we prepare and we be prepared to encounter resistance and adversity and that we do not allow those things to blind us from our ultimate goal in our quest for development,” he said.
The tourism minister noted that while Vincentians benefit from the strides made to free the nation from its colonial past, so too must persons free their minds from things that entrap citizens on a whole.
Using a metaphor, he added that the race to freedom is a marathon that can only be won by those “who act wisely and with foresight” so as to “pass the baton to the next generation of freedom fighters”.
“The idea that ‘we can’t’, ‘we are too small’, ‘our country doesn’t stand a chance’ in everything we set about to accomplish. If we ought to take anything from Chatoyer, it’s our resilience as a people, our courage and our determination,” James said.
The tourism minister said: “We have to lift our consciousness as a people. We have to work with our communities to build that level of consciousness. The sounds of the drums here today echoes powerfully the pain and struggle, resilience of our people. But it also tells the story of our hope for a better tomorrow for the future generations of Vincentians. Long live the people’s struggle for self determination, social justice, reparations and the quest for a better St Vincent and the Grenadines, together and united”.