At a Zoom virtual launch of the book, Stories from our Indian Elders on Sunday, November 28th, the Minister of Education of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, the Hon. Mr. Curtis King applauded the author, Mr. Dornald Lenroy Thomas for showing the other side of the historical narrative of the people of St. Vincent and the Grenadines. Whereas the history of Vincentians had hitherto been mostly written by Europeans with a Euro-centric perspective, it is refreshing to see a book written by a native Vincentian that gives a more balanced view of our history.
The book features interviews with local Vincentian elders who gave their recollections and perspectives. These are preceded with a background of the historical situation that existed both in India and St.Vincent before the Indians embarked on their journeys to the Caribbean. They are followed by a periodic review of the narratives and an analysis of available records while also looking at the current situation in St. Vincent and India and future relationship possibilities.
According to the Minister, “It is very clear to those of us interested in constructing the type of post colonial society that I referred to earlier, that we have come to recognize that a significant component of this reconstruction process must be the recording of our history from the perspective of our people. Too much of what we know about ourselves and our country we have learnt from the European perspective which has dominated so much of the history of the countries of the Americas.
This European perspective has never been kind to our people. It has basically relegated our people to mere spectators in the historical process. According to this Eurocentric view, the Kalinaga, Garifuna, Africans, Indians played no meaningful role in the progressive development of the colonial society. Hence there is no need to record what is not there… So, this is the sort of historical distortion that small developing countries like ours must seek to correct so that our people will get a better understanding of their past and use that understanding of their past to guide them on their way forward…”
In reference to the book, Stories from our Indian Elders, he said “This is a very important piece of work. It is of great value to the St. Vincent and the Grenadines Indian Heritage Foundation… This work will also help the many students at the secondary, as well as the tertiary level who are engaged in the research on the story of the Indian people in St. Vincent and the Grenadines and by extension, the history of St. Vincent and the Grenadines. I therefore congratulate Mr Thomas for adding a valuable resource of information to the records aimed at putting together our historical story.”
Other speakers at the launch included historian and social commentator, Dr. Adrian Fraser, Hon. Consul of India to St. Vincent and the Grenadines and President of the SVG Indian Heritage Foundation, Mr. Junior Bacchus, treasurer of the Foundation Mrs. Cheryl Rodriguez, and the author, Mr Dornald Lenroy Thomas. Dr. Fraser, who also wrote the Foreword of the book presented an overview of it’s contents while Mrs Rodriguez and Mr Junior Bacchus talked about the genesis and production of the book and gave it their full endorsement.
The launch was facilitated by the Indo-Caribbean Cultural Centre, headed by Dr. Kumar Mahabir, the Ameena Gafoor Institute of London directed by Professor David Dabydeen and the SVG Indian Heritage Foundation. The book is available locally at Gaymes Book Centre, Bowman’s Pharmacy and via sales distributor Mr. Hansel King. It can also be ordered online from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, the Strand in New York, Blackwell’s in the UK as well as from several other distributors globally.