CHARLESTOWN NEVIS (August 9, 2006)
Premier of Nevis the Honourable Joseph Parry announced that a memorial service in honour of the 236 persons who perished on the MV Christina 36 years ago, would become a permanent fixture on the Nevis Island Administration’s (NIA) annual calendar of events; a disaster which he said had brought significant new beginning for Nevis.
Mr. Parry made the disclosure on Sunday August 6th during a Memorial Service at the Museum of Nevis History Courtyard in Charlestown. The service would be held on the Sunday preceding August Monday which he said was of great significance because the sinking of the Christina and August Monday had very much in common at the time of the disaster.
Notwithstanding, Mr. Parry said though it was a sad day for Nevis, out of the disaster had come new life and new beginnings which today define the people of Nevis. He referred to the emergence of the drama group NEDAC in 1972, the brainchild of the late Calvin Howell which came at a time of great grief and depression.
“Calvin Howell realized that at the time we were suffering and we seemed to have lost ourselves we realized it was important to do something and he chose what he could do best, culture and cultural activities and he organized this group and went to Caribbean Festival of Arts (CARIFESTA) and came back and started what we now know as Culturama and Culturama has given us a sense of pride, a sense of belonging, a sense of having roots and even today, even this weekend as we celebrate Culturama we must think of what Calvin Howell did at that particular time.
“Calvin Howell understood that the beginning of August had much to do with emancipation, a time when the black people of this country were freed from slavery. It was a time when people had their celebration and which in a way caused people to want to go to St. Kitts and come back home to celebrate. So even as they died, they contributed something in bringing Calvin Howell forward. He came forth and caused us today to have what we call Culturama,” he said.
Mr. Parry also referred to the creation of the Nevis Reformation Party pioneered by Mr. Simeon Daniel, Mr. Ivor Stephens and Mr. Ural Swanston. He said at that time they had felt a sense of loss and travelled throughout the island met people and held masquerades, tea parties and engaged in various things in an effort to bring the people of Nevis together.
“Out of that came the Nevis Reformation Party which galvanized and brought the people of Nevis together. Today because of those great efforts, we have the Nevis Island Government.
“How many of us understand that without that party and without the Nevis Island Government we would not be standing here today? We would not be standing next to the House of Assembly which has so much historical significance. We would not today have all the things that we have and so those people who died on August 1st 1970 made a great sacrifice but they did not make that sacrifice in vain because today we have benefited and if we look at history, over and over again wherever there is a disaster there is a new beginning,” he said.
Mr. Parry urged Nevisians to honour those who perished, to cherish the new life that came out of the disaster, to be proud of what they have achieved and to remember that the achievements did not come without sacrifice adding that “we must as a people reach out and help each other” since it is not enough to be materialistic, individualistic or selfish.
He stressed the need to think of the community including non Nevisians “we need to reach out and help each other and if we do this, if we understand the significance of this, we would achieve much but also these people would not have died in vain.”
Premier Parry called for the observance of one minute silence in memory of those who died and at the end of the Service laid the first wreath at the Christina Memorial on the Charlestown Waterfront on behalf of the Nevis Island Administration.
During the Service attended by Hon Vance Amory, his Excellency Mr. Cedric Harper Dean of the Diplomatic Core and High Commissioner to Jamaica and the Ambassador to Cuba, Ministers in the NIA and members of the public, Ms Akiana Skelton sang the national anthem, the scripture reading was done by Mr. Karney Skeete Jr. a tribute by Mr. Lemuel Pemberton, a rendition by Mr. Kurvin Wallace, a Sermonette by Reverend Salome James. Musical accompaniment was provided by Mr. Jacob Ngumbah and Ms Christine Springette chaired the proceedings.