Vincentians Hail Chatoyer
‘To understand History I have to come home’.
This thought was at the heart of this year’s Obelisk Wreath Laying Ceremony.
The idea that, ‘It doesn’t take long for a child to recognize the relationship between himself and his mother.. Similarly our understanding for our country should be instilled in us at an early age’, was driven home by both Prime Minster, Dr. Hon Ralph E. Gonsalves and Major St. Claire Leacock in their remarks to the gathering in Dorsetshire Hill, on the morning of our National Heroes Day, March 14.
Every year, at the Monumental Obelisk built in honour of The Right Excellency Joseph Chatoyer, Paramount Chief, Vincentians are encouraged to remember the roots from which they came, and to give thanks for the son of the soil who fought valiantly for the freedom of our indigenous people. Heroes’ Day 2012 marked the 207th anniversary of Paramount Chief Chatoyer’s death and the 10th anniversary of his status as the first National Hero of our land. Amidst Garifuna dressed in traditional costume seen at the site of the Obelisk, the ceremony began with the national anthem rendered by Nneka McMillian in Garifuna.
Following a prayer by Mr. Nigel Morgan and welcome by Master of Ceremonies0 Cecil Charles, ‘March’, the theme song of Heritage Month was sung by Glenroy “Sulle” Caeser. It encourages Vincentians to “March into History. Reclaiming our identity..Garifuna, proud are we.” Addresses also came from Opposition Leader Arnhim Eustace and Minister of Culture Cecil Mc Kie.
Greetings from the National Youth Council and The Garifuna Heritage Foundation were expressed for all that Chatoyer tried to do. The appropriately costumed C.W Prescod Dancers also presented a traditional dance.
2nd National Hero coming soon
In his address, the Prime Minister recited the poem “Private Prayer”. The poem, which questioned how one goes about truly understanding his history. In his address he reiterated that a second National Hero would be installed by next year.
A nine member National Heroes Advisory Committee will inform the process. The Committee comprises two persons appointed under the Governor General’s absolute discretion, two under the advice of the Prime Minister, one as advised by the Leader of the Opposition, as well as 2 persons to be chosen from a list of nominated non-governmental organizations. (See related story on page 15.)
The ‘Ghost of Chatoyer’ came to life in a Choral Speech by students of the Dorsetshire Hill Primary School. The traditional gun salute followed and then, one by one in procession fashion, wreaths were placed at the foot of the Obelisk, the site of Chatoyer’s death, by the Governor General, the Prime Minister and other members of state.
To raise the spirits of all present after this solemn mark of respect, Nzimbu and a troupe of young drummers paid tribute in their own way through a drum recital.
It is hoped that Vincentians will see Heroes Day as a reminder to look to our history for guidance for our future, even as we await the appointment of the 2nd National Hero.
Source of article:
by Karissa Clarke