Author: Owen "Ezad" Roach | Date: 30 November 2018
It’s been a while since I last penned an article. During that time, much has happened. Jerry “ Ramba” Ponde, Leonard “ Dip” Wade, and others have migrated to the great divide. Both deceased were good men. The former known for his unorthodox grammar, and the latter, a man with a heart of gold.
Many Montserratians continue to show disgust in their elected Government, and I continue to ponder if Montserratians understand the true significance of love, unity and progress. The truth is that we are no longer our brother’s and sister’s keeper. We have sadly practiced and have now managed to perfect the art of bad mind, envy and grudge.
Recently whilst in Jamaica I had time to reflect on Montserrat; my place of birth; home to many unsung heroes. Anthony “ Pops” Morris, William “ Ruler” Murraine, Justin “ Hero” Cassell, Ras Kitaka, Herman “ Cupid” Francis, Austin White, Kelvin “ Tabu” Duberry, Tony Bramble, Basil Chambers, Glendina Taylor, and Tommy Blanko to name a few.
The truth is that we need to do more to honour our outstanding sons and daughters before they depart this great life. What seems to have been taking place on the contrary is that those in positions of so-called power on Montserrat are most competent at stifling progress.
The Government of Montserrat recently declined to assist me with my economic cost to undertake a six month – conversion law Course in Jamaica. A course that is supposed to make me qualified to practice law in the Region, even though I was called to the bar in Montserrat almost fifteen years ago. Even though also, I am a national of Montserrat. Communication received from Senior persons within Human Resources on the island decided I did not meet the criteria. What was this criteria I wondered? In Montserrat, criteria is sometimes designed to match personalities and family ancestry. I smiled, for I have long passed the stage of being controlled. That same dependency that colonialism permits. Hopefully, those who most need assistance in the future, will not suffer the same fate.
It is important that we as a people support our own. Our people are our greatest asset and resource. The truth is that unless there is a major reshuffling of the players in the civil service, Montserrat will remain stagnant. There are too many top civil servants seemingly with personal agendas. Their vision does not come over as progress for Montserrat or its citizens. In fact many of them can be seen as selfish, and are guided by a bad mind mentality. Earl “ Hustler” Browne addressed such attitudes in his song, entitled “ power brokers”. This has been a problem for years. It needs to be addressed.
I grew up under the guidance of the late Haycene “ Chico” Ryan, a no-nonsense character. My other Ghetto Stars teammates were also a source of inspiration. Hartford Bramble, Cecil “ Fatty” Farrell, Kasey Weekes, Elijah “ King” Silcott , Junior Wilson and Ashton “ Huff” Weekes. Men, who were baptized in discipline, and disciples of love, unity and progress.
With an election pending it is important that we carefully give some thought to the direction that we wish to see our country take. We collectively need to show more reverence towards nation building. The end result should be to leave behind a legacy that will make our children’s lives more hopeful than our own. We need to find love in our hearts beyond the smiles of Valentines Day. We need to bring the dream and hopes of all our unsung heroes, from Jahramba to Dip Wade, Bam Tuitt, Nan Hixon, and Jane Dyer to fruition. As we remember the faces of the nameless men and women - carpenters, poets, sanitary engineers and taxi drivers - constructing lives for themselves and their offspring’s, often working late at nights and in the midday sun, calloused hand by calloused hand, in the hope that Montserrat will be a better place. It is a dream that I too share.
Let us make 2019 as the year of progress for Montserrat. We as a people not only have the capacity to produce creatively but also to excel.
I would like to see an educational, art and a sporting trust created. A day of national recognition for those who have made significant contributions has to be established. We need to lessen the importance of the British Honours. Not only are these anachronistic historically, but also meaningless in the pseudo-colonial relationship condescendingly accorded to Montserrat by the Mother Country. We need to remove the divisive forces of personal and institutional fragmentation. There needs to be a conscious transformation of Montserrat. Accessibility must take center stage at this table of negotiation. Its mandate has to be clear and precise. I remain optimistic that the concepts on which the edifice of our progress was started can be restored and progressed.
I have told my friend Mervin “MacArthur” Browne on several occasions that development comes in many facets. We could only now hope that the explosive reactions and effects of the volcano all those years ago, would now today stir our people to love each other more.
It is a real danger that we would drift deeper into the seas of socio-economic crisis, if as a people of whatever political persuasion we cannot come together and resolve our differences for the good of the land we profess we love so much.
My last wish from Brother Heavy Greaves; that esteemed preacher before he passed, was for a day of praying and fasting to rid Montserrat of bad mind. Hopefully, the prayer will still be said. Until I hear from Brother Heavy in a dream I will be guided by James 3:16- “ for where jealously and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice”.
Note: Owen "Ezad" Roach is a Barrister-at-Law at both the English and Montserrat Bar. He has also recently completed the Certificate of Legal Education in Jamaica. He is also a Pan-Africanist. He can be reached firstname.lastname@example.org