EDITOR: As we celebrate our National Independence this month, let us spare some thought for a significant milestone in our history which occurred in the month of October.
SVG – October 21 1935
On October 21, 1935, the working people of St Vincent and the Grenadines, fed up with extreme poverty, neglect and racial oppression under British colonial rule rose up in rebellion against the colonial authorities and the local plantation and merchant class.
The colonial authorities and many historians insisted that it was not a “rebellion” but “riots” led by unruly persons.
The reality, not just here in SVG but in most of the rest of the Caribbean gave a lie to this assertion. In almost every British colony in the so-called “West Indies”, rebellion broke out for the same fundamental causes. The colonial government had to bring in British troops to quell the popular uprisings.
In St Vincent, not only were the local leaders, Samuel “Sheriff” Lewis. Bertha Mutt, Martin Durham and others, arrested but the most prominent among them were sent to jail in the colonial headquarters of the British administration in the Windward Islands, Grenada.
In addition, the local working class and anti-colonial fighter George McIntosh, who was not involved in the rebellion was charged with treason.
October 21, 1935, helped to intensify the march towards an end to colonialism and spurred several measures to try and alleviate the misery of the Vincentian working people.
It propelled the demand for an end to British colonial rule. As such when we celebrate National Independence we must always remember the role of October 1935 and the part played by “Sheriff” and the much-maligned rebels of October 21, not only in Kingstown but throughout many parts of the country.
May their memory be eternally preserved!