REMARKS BY DEPUTY PREMIER AND MINISTER FOR EDUCATION, CULTURE, YOUTH AFFAIRS, FISHERIES AND AGRICULTURE
HONOURABLE NATALIO D. WHEATLEY
ON THE OCCASION OF THE CELEBRATION OF THE BIRTHDAY OF H. LAVITY STOUTT
MONDAY, MARCH 7, 2022
Good morning and God’s blessings. Happy Lavity Stoutt Day! I begin by honouring the memory of Mrs. Hilda Stoutt. As the saying goes, besides every great man is a great woman! This great woman has gone home to her maker, and I pray that God wraps his comforting and healing arms around those of you who remain as you mourn the loss of this matriarch of the Stoutt family.
I must also begin with a declaration of peace in a world full of conflict: I say to you this morning that war is not the answer. We in the Virgin Islands must take a stand against war, whether it is the war in Ukraine or the war against freedom, which has been waged against the peoples of the world for over 500 years.
Many of us use terms, which we have not researched and do not fully understand. I would like to explain the concept of the First World, the Second World, and the Third World. The first world represents capitalist countries, commonly called western countries, such as the United States, France, the United Kingdom, etc. The Second World, which is not a commonly used term, represents the Communist Bloc of countries, including the former Soviet Union, now Russia, China, and their friends. The Third World, ultimately, represents the Colonies of the first and the second world.
The First and the Second world have been locked in global conflict since the post world war II period, and they have competed for influence, territory, resources, strategic military position among other things.
I cry for Ukraine, but I also cry for the BVI and I cry for those who are colonized around the world, whether formally or informally, and I cry for freedom because colonialism is a relic of the past, and we must build a world with equality among nations, no matter how big or small, and no matter their race, language, or geographic position.
Now what does any of this have to do with Lavity Stoutt. I submit to you that Lavity Stoutt was a warrior for freedom. I submit to you this morning that Lavity Stoutt recognized the fundamental conflict in the world between colonizer and colonized and sought to fight for the aged old prize of liberty and justice for his people. He fought for the freedom to grow and develop in the world and meet your full potential existing among a community of nations living in harmony.
If we simply celebrate Lavity Stoutt for his individual accomplishments then we have missed the mark. Those accomplishments have relevance and value based on what they represent for our burgeoning nation. He has become a symbol of what we all should aspire to as champions of our own autonomy. And not just him, but many others. And that is why we have taken the bold step of creating additional holidays, such as “the Great March and Restoration Day” and “Heroes and Foreparents Day,” so we might acknowledge and celebrate others who are champions in this fight for self-government, for economic development, for social upliftment, and ultimately, for freedom.
We must study Lavity Stoutt and we must study our nation builders and freedom fighters, and we must embody what we extol. And we must perpetuate that which we praise. We must become what we celebrate today. You must be Lavity. I must be Lavity. Be Cyril. We Ralph. Be Willard. Be Orlando. Acknowledging that we all have separate roles to play, but we must become beacons of hope and fighters for freedom.
65 years ago Lavity Stoutt became a legislator. 55 years ago he became our first Chief Minister under our new ministerial system. This is a significant development in our march to autonomy as previously executive authority was vested in the Queen’s representative, whether called the Governor, Commissioner, Administrator or what have you. This is a part of the evolution from being enslaved and powerless to our ultimate goal of full self government. I journey which is not yet complete.
And these changes have material and significant benefits to the people of the Virgin Islands. For instance, in 1967 Lavity Stoutt became our first Minister for Education. What was one of his first acts. He established comprehensive secondary education, where every child could get a secondary diploma as opposed to the minority who had access to it before.
All the persons who sit in cabinet and the executive council before it, owe a debt of gratitude to those who fought for our constitutional advancement and the introduction of the ministerial system. Every accomplishment that a minister has made we owe to those freedom fighters who said lets keep marching forward. Every accomplishment of Conrad Maduro, Louis Walters, Ethlyn Smith, Omar Hodge, Mark Vanterpool, Julian Fraser, Dancia Penn, Eileen Parsons, Lloyd Black, every single act of ministerial power and executive authority we have because we did not become satisfied with our status.
I say to you that our journey is not complete. We advanced in 1977 having our first minister of finance but our journey is not over. We have cabinet now instead of executive authority but our journey is not over. The have a Premier and not Chief Minister but our journey is not over. We have national security council now, but I submit to you that there is more work to be done.
This is not just me saying this; This is the mandate of the United Nations. This is the mandate of the decolonization resolutions and committees. This decade was declared the fourth decade for the eradication of colonialism, and we have a mandate to continue our evolution as a people.
And we want the UK to be a partner in that process. I was proud of Prince Charles in his support for Barbados in becoming a Republic. And as we approach constitutional talks I know the Premier in consultation with the people of the Virgin Islands will lead a discussion about what our next steps will be in this yet to be completed journey.
As we celebrate the birthday of HL Stoutt, as we celebrate his entry to elected office 65 years ago, and the ministerial system 55 years ago, let us reflect on our role in continuing the advancement he led for so many years.
God bless the memory of HL Stoutt! May his legacy live for ever!