A local historian is of the view that Vincentians ought to be astonished that they live in a country that has been inhabited for thousands of years.
Dr Garrie Michael Dennie made the declaration on Monday, while handing over to the Ministry of Culture, a draft of the first three chapters of the History of St Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) on behalf of himself, Dr Arnold Thomas, Dr Adrian Fraser and Dr Cleve Scott, who have all been commissioned by the Government to write the history.
Dennie said that the book sets out to give readers that sense of wonder which comes with this kind of history.
“It seems to me that Vincentians need to have a certain kind of astonishment that we live on a land where human beings have been walking for 5000 years.”
He added that the true and astonishing fact is that the indigenous resistance to the European presence lasted longer in St Vincent than anywhere else in the Caribbean.
The historian noted that in the 1500s indigenous Vincentians travelled by canoe to Puerto Rico to fight the Spaniards and in 1797, they fought the British on home soil.
“It was a 300 year battle that Vincentians had been engaged upon. It’s the history that has not really been told and that kind of conception of Vincentians being, in some ways, the progenitors of a Pan Caribbean consciousness that we could recognize ourselves within the broader Caribbean and could act in that fashion 300 years ago; that is a story on which there’s complete silence. This text brings that story alive.”
Dennie also said that the Vincentian story is unique within the Caribbean as it is the only island that has undergone genocide and slavery almost simultaneously.
He explained that the book consists of two volumes. Volume one has been divided into three sections, made up of seven chapters, an introduction and a conclusion. Volume two, he said will have approximately eight chapters.
Dennie shared that the first section of Volume 1 is entitled the ‘Rise and Fall of Indigenous Civilizations in St. Vincent and the Grenadines’. The second section is entitled ‘Slave plantations and the Colonial State’, and the third section is entitled ‘Fighting Back: proto nationalism in the colonial state. ‘
He further explained that chapter one focuses on the history of human presence in SVG before the arrival of the Europeans in the Caribbean.
Chapter two traces the ways in which these indigenous Vincentians who developed the first civilization in St Vincent resisted the European congress up to 1797, and chapter three, which is the first chapter of section two, is entitled the Sugar Plantation Complex and Chattel Slavery, 1797-1834, which tells a story of plantation slavery in SVG in that period.
Dennie said these chapters tell an astonishing story of SVG’s transformation from paradise to purgatory and that the book will undoubtedly be the cornerstone text for all future histories of SVG.
He commended the government for initiating this project.
The presentation was made at a press conference organized by the Ministry of Tourism and Culture at the CDC Conference Room on Monday, October 31.