(Editor’s Note: On behalf of the organization Helping Our People Excel Nevis, the group’s public relations officer, Vincia Herbert, submitted two press releases from HOPE to call attention to important issues during the Culturama season. According to the group’s Web site (www.hopenv.org), “HOPE is a group formed by young people from diverse backgrounds, with diverse ideas, with one mission; to do all in our power to help the young people of Nevis excel in their different endeavors. H.O.P.E. intends to motivate the young people of Nevis to channel their energies and priorities into the worthwhile ventures such as sport, community involvement and education. We want to stand up and be counted as young people who didn’t simply sit back and let things be, but young people who got up and did something about the plight of our young people. We believe like Martin Luther King Jr. that “An individual has not started living until he can rise above the narrow confines of his individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity.”)
As we as citizens of St. Christopher and Nevis gear up to celebrate our Culturama Festival, HOPE Nevis would like to remind us of the reason we celebrate at this time of year. FREEDOM, EMANCIPATION.
As a Negro people on August 1st 1834 (174 years ago), we were granted freedom from slavery in this part of the world. Let us not forget what EMANCIPATION meant. It meant the right to chart our own destinies, the right to form our own thoughts, the right to live as equals with all men.
Today, let us continue to truly live as EMANCIPATED people. Let us free ourselves from ‘mental slavery’, those chains that keep us bound in poverty, ignorance and subservience. Let us work to help each other to lift ourselves out of the pits of despair and denigration. Let us realize that where we are today is as a result of the blood, sweat and tears of our forefathers and it is on their shoulders we stand today. Let us not betray the investment they made so that today we can be truly EMANCIPATED. Let us work together to build our Nation into a state truly worthy of being called FREE.
During our celebrations, let us not forget from whence we came, and those who sacrificed their lives so that we could live as we do today. GOD BLESS and HAPPY EMANCIPATION DAY from the executive and members of HOPE Nevis.
Verse 3 of THE NEGRO
God of our weary years,
God of our silent tears,
Thou who has brought us thus far on the way;
Thou who has by Thy might
Led us into the light,
Keep us forever in the path, we pray.
Lest our feet stray from the places, Our God, where we met Thee;
Lest our hearts drunk with the wine of the world, we forget Thee;
Shadowed beneath Thy hand,
May we forever stand.
True to our GOD,
True to our native land.
The Christena Disaster
The sinking of the MV Christena on August 1st 1970 represents the most catastrophic event in the modern history of St. Kitts and Nevis. Its effects heightened given the fact that the date of the disaster was one synonymous with the celebration of freedom and life. As a people, we should never let the tragic loss of approximately 236 lives to be lost on our consciences.
While we take some time out to memorialize those who have fallen and celebrate their lives, let us also pause to reflect on the twin lessons the Christena Disaster have taught us; those of altruism and resilience. The Christena Disaster taught us what can be accomplished when we rise above our own individualistic concerns and look out for others. While lives were lost, others were rescued and have lived to tell of the Disaster. This was only possible because on that day, in the face of disaster, people found it in themselves to look out for each other. While we face no eminent disaster today, let us never forget the importance of always extending our hand to our fellowman.
August 1st 1970 must have represented one of the darkest days throughout St. Kitts/Nevis and it is no doubt that in the days thereafter, very few knew whether life could go on. Families were displaced, business would have been at a standstill due to lack of communication between the islands and there must have been a general sense of doom and gloom. However 38 years after, we have “carved a tunnel of hope through a dark mountain of disappointment.” We have moved on from strength to strength and while the scars of the past are still there, we are no longer defined by or confined to them.
On this the 38th Anniversary of the Christena Disaster HOPE Nevis wishes to sympathize with the families and friends of those who died in such tragic circumstances while encouraging all of us to reflect on the importance of altruism and resilience.