Our Readers' Opinions
January 4, 2008
Reflections on 2007 in St. Vincent and the Grenadines


by Maxwell Haywood

In 2007, several initiatives in St. Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) caught my attention.

Firstly, thanks to the commemoration of the 200th anniversary of the abolition of the trans-atlantic slave trade, SVG experienced a positive focus on issues confronting Black people who make up the majority of the population and still suffer from “chained reactions”, as calypsonian Sulle sang some years ago. Many activities were organized and there was welcomed reflection on the history of Black people. {{more}}Three books were published in 2007 which address themes and issues related to Black people in SVG. Oscar Allen released his book entitled “We Want To Become Wise”. This book is informative, inspiring and functional in the sense that it provides questions for reflection and discussion. Another book was released which is edited by Dr. Baldwin King, Dr. Kenneth John and Cheryl L. A. King, entitled “Search for Identity: Essays on St. Vincent and the Grenadines”. It provides a window through which we could get a good look and appreciation regarding an important era in the history of SVG. And in the month of December, Dr. Richard Cox published his book called “Were Mama’s Tears In Vain”, in which he highlights aspects of our heritage by using the narrative method of writing.

Furthermore, there were many radio and television programmes, along with many articles in the newspapers on various themes and issues related to Black history, heritage or culture. There were also activities in the schools and communities.

The activities marking the 200th anniversary of the abolition of the trans-Atlantic slave trade point to a fact, which is that Black people are very strong and resilient, and no human force in this world could stop people of African descent from eventually renewing our forward march to our full and complete humanization. These activities also show that in the midst of doubts, fears, development challenges and social pain, we have a rich legacy to rely on.

Secondly, there were national development initiatives that have been good news for me. For example, there were efforts to create a National Economic and Social Development Plan, a National Strategic Health Plan (2008-2013), and a National Food Production Plan. Other initiatives included constitutional reform, local government commission, and there were also efforts to conduct a poverty assessment in SVG. Of course, there were more of these in 2007, but I only mentioned those few but critical ones. These plans and initiatives are important for national progress, and they must be promoted and implemented with excellent leadership and management. In order to move beyond the policy formulation stage, those responsible for their implementation should display a high sense of commitment, diligence, and a special sense for the development requirements of SVG. National unity is fundamental in driving the effectiveness of these efforts.

Thirdly, in 2007 there were many articles published in the newspapers, but one especially I found to be very much on target. That article which was written by Oscar Allen was published under the title “A different era” in the Searchlight newspaper, dated 30 November, 2007. In my view, Oscar Allen’s article beckons us to create our own mighty industries or businesses that are productive and built on equity or a just political economy. The alternative is to continue the old way of exploitation making us better modern slaves.