A people, who fail to teach their children of their history, fail to chart the course for the future of succeeding generations. There is no doubt that future accomplishments are dictated by focused past and present planning. And every culture that experienced any significant development saw their people took an active part in the preservation of their history. When the founding fathers of the Unites States of America began to put the structure of this great nation in place, they were building a community, not to meet the needs of the then, but they had a vision for an America that was much bigger than its humble beginnings. That is the reason, they took the time to carefully and meticulous document every event as they took place. For the founding fathers of the USA, timely and accurate documentation of events was a way or holding responsible people accountable.
Proper documentation of events is reflective of the level of responsibility and the degree of accountable that is placed on leaders. If the ordinary people are uninvolved, then the records will reflect their lack of public participation. In other words, their records will be filled with inaccuracy and omissions. I get the impression, from the high and significant gaps in our culture, the people of our past were not a people who got involved in the affairs of state and culture. It is a shame to see this attitude was handed down and has become the downfall, even of this generation.
It is such a sad thing that the people of St Vincent and the Grenadines are a society that is set for and live only for the now. This attitude is being displayed in the way we play our politics. Yes I say play; anyone who is serious about the future of their nation cannot be so party oriented, to the point where they refuse to examine and question, both the public and private action and utterances of their elected representative and those who are seeking public elected and appointed offices.
In St Vincent and the Grenadines we participate and we forget; no effort is made to remember or teach our children what we did. I personally know that my children will not want to sit and listen to all of the stories that make up my life experiences, my accomplishment and my failures, so I do the next best thing. I document events in many ways. For I know the time will come, when they will develop an interest in the life of their father, grandfather, great-grandfather, etc. as I did in the life of my parents and grandparents.
The government of St Vincent and the Grenadines and to a lesser extent the ministry of culture declared St Vincent and the Grenadines Nine Mornings festival 2013 to be one hundred years of active existence within St Vincent and the Grenadines. Ever since this declaration, Dr Adrian Fraser went on a crusade in an effort to hold the government accountable. It is important to note Dr Fraser is not saying that the government is wrong in their conclusion but he has a problem with the method with which they arrived to this conclusion. Dr Fraser’s claim is the lack of research and supporting evidence is making a mockery of history, Nine Mornings, St Vincent and Vincentians. In short, jumping to such a premature conclusion, without the relevant research and thought only seek to make us (Vincentians) a laughing stock of the Caribbean and international intellectuals.
Dr Adrian Fraser’s crusade is not one that is design to shame or embarrass the government of St Vincent and the Grenadines; however, it is one that seeks only to protect our (St Vincent and the Grenadines) international pride and reputation within the historic context. I will also like to hear Doctor Michael Denny’s professional opinion, as it relates to the validity of the one hundred anniversary of Nine Mornings declaration.
I listened with interest to the interview of the St Vincent and the Grenadines Cultural Officer and Chairman of the Nine Mornings Committee: Mr Michael Peters, and I was troubled by the evidence he put forward as the basis on which the ministry of culture used to come to the conclusion and to make such a declaration; declaring 2013 as one hundred years of Nine Mornings celebration. His public declaration and justification for such just doesn’t make any sense to anyone who can think and question thing.
This is what Mr Peters said:
“There is no doubt that nine mornings festivities started a long, long time ago. Nobody is sure when, and nobody is sure why, nobody is sure why it only developed in St Vincent and the Grenadines. What we do know is there were activities taking place in the 1800s and the 1900s. However, in 1912, the government of St Vincent and the Grenadines, through the police, gives it permission, legalized whatever was happening.”
This is utter garbage. The first set of questions I would like to ask is: was Nine Mornings illegal? Why was it illegal? Where is the evidence to support the claims of the illegality of the festival that we know today as Nine Mornings?
It is important to note, even in the early 1800s, any act of government to make an illegal act legal must be done with an official act of parliament (the changing of a law). It must also have the approval of the governor and it must also be published in a gazette or newspaper as was the norm of that day.
I will like to ask Mr Peters and PM Gonsalves (whose gimmick this whole 100 anniversary thing is) some very basic questions:
1. Where are the official documents or declarations that made Nine Mornings legal?
2. What was the law this document replaced?
3. Where are the official police logs that show and support the arrest and the disbanding of Nine-Morning participants from their unlawful pre-dawn assembly and activities pre-1912?
4. Where are the court records of such cases that were brought before the magistrate prior to 1912?
5. What is the name of one such person who was arrested and or prosecuted for participating in Nine Mornings before it became legal?
6. Do we have access to any comparative police records pre- and post-1912 that show a drastic fall off of activities as it relates to arrest and interruption of Nine Mornings or the pre-dawn activities during the traditional Nine Morning days December 14th to the 24th?
7. Do we have access to any newspaper articles pre-and post-1912 that address Nine Mornings or any pre-dawn activities? If yes, what are their dates?
8. Do we have access to any documents in the British or French archives that lend to or support the government of St Vincent and the Grenadines’ claims?
9. Are there any documents in the British or French archives that spoke of Nine Mornings?
Like the document that is the American Declaration of independence, if these documents exist, they or copies of them should be displayed as historical artifacts. Mr Prime Minister (Ralph Gonsalves) and Mr Peters, Cultural officer and Chairman of the Nine Mornings committee, where are the historic documents that give you the moral rights to make such a declaration? I want to see them.
Like Dr Fraser, I am declaring that there are no conclusive or near conclusive evidence to justify and or support the government claims. In other words, the whole thing is just a big fat dirty lie! Now what is the basis or objective of this declaration? How is such going to help our culture and St Vincent and the Grenadines in the future?
It appears that there is no real objective behind the government’s questionable declaration, it certainly was not a marketing ploy to bring more new and returning (non- Vincentian) visitors to our shores to celebrate a unique culture, because no money was put into attracting culture loving people to our shores to participate in this so called historic event.
The only thing the government and the ministry of culture did was to get a couple hundred Vincentians interested in the festival this year. The overseas participants to the festival were not new visitors but natives who had plan to spend Christmas in St Vincent.
Before I close, I have two more questions, which I would like to ask:
• After the historic one hundred years celebration, what next?
• Is there anything in place to hold the attention of those who came out as spectators, to assure their participation next year, 2014, which will allegedly be the one hundred and one anniversary celebration?
Let us wait and see.
Before I close let me take this opportunity to wish the owners and editor of the Caribbean News Now, season’s greetings and Happy Holidays to you and your staff. I would like to take this opportunity to thank you for providing me with an outlet for my opinion. I hope that you and your news forum will grow from strength to strength.