The Christena Memoriam

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Perhaps it was the absence of Culturama this year.  Perhaps it was the special edition of the Nevis House of Assembly, in which all former and current heads of government took part.  Or perhaps it was the year was very poignant.

In the House sitting, while the other leaders talked around the issues, it was Joseph Parry who made us sit up and listen, and in so doing, almost brought us to tears!  He explained, as never before, the impact of the sinking of the ferry on the economy and society of Nevis (and on St Kitts  and perhaps Anguilla too) – and the pshyche of Nevisians.

Many of the survivors recounted their stories of survival; almost each one had a variation from the other. Ossie chronicled his and it is perhaps the best known, with the definitive text to date is that recorded by Whitman Browne.   We have no doubt that they are all true stories, but perhaps the full truth of the disaster may lie in all of the stories combined, as well as the accounts of the responders and the provenance of the boat itself. 

Like the Black Lives Matter movement in the USA, the 50th anniversary of the sinking of the MV Christena requires much introspection.  Such introspection must include the consideration that more citizens/nationals  perished in the Christena disaster than those citizens/nationals who died in the two world wars. That introspection must force us to ask why there is no memorial to the disaster on St. Kitts and to advocate for one as a matter of urgency.

It is not by accident that there are two memorials dedicated to the event in Nevis; most of the travelers on that fateful voyage – and thus most of those who perished and those who survived – were from Nevis.  It was also a deliberate and noteworthy act that the current Premier, Hon Mark Brantley, announced the additional initiatives of a maritime scholarship, a swimming fund and a research foundation. 

The Observer Newspaper joins with people everywhere in recognizing the struggles of nationals everywhere and in commemorating the lives that were affected by this tragedy.  We take comfort in the resilience of our people who have risen to the task of nation building.

We have come a long, long way.  May God continue to bless us all.

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