O.J. Seraphin: Why treat us as inconsequential and irrelevant
Open Letter to Chairman Independence Committee
It is incumbent upon me with the authority of history to address the matter of the lack of due courtesy or protocol being afforded to the past leaders of this land, as well as it is a most despicable form of disrespect for our history and the legacy of former leaders of the land that your committee have sought as you did in the 30th anniversary of our independence to ignore the founding fathers of this nation at this momentous occasion.
May I therefore remind you as a most salient point of our history that we did attain independence on the 3rd November,1978 as a result of the action of the leaders then of the land after the public announcement by the Salisbury Declaration of then Premier Patrick John .
At that time you may wish to be informed that I was then the President of the Labour Party and Minister of Agriculture, Lands, Fisheries and CARICOM Affairs. You may not be aware that it was the Premier-Patrick John, the Attorney General Leo Austin and the Minister of Finance Vic Riviere and I who did first go to Britain to make the official announcement to her Majesty's government of our intention to seek independence from Britain.
At that time it was by the attrition of the opposition to ensure that the intent to attain independence was derailed and prior to our return from Britain the opposition had public meetings which led to a huge mass of their supporters to greet us with hostility saying we went to a world cricket match in London. We were made aware of this at our Hotel Bristol residence but did choose to encounter the violent and aggressive resistance crowd at the entrance of the E. C. Loblack Bridge.
Public meetings around Dominica were also met with hostile responses from opposition groups .Some support was found among some more enlightened Dominicans including Rosie Douglas, Pierre Charles Bernard Wiltshire and others under the Popular Independence Committee umbrella.
The vision of independence, however, was that of the Labour Party under the Patrick John leadership. There are only three remaining ministers at Independence who are alive today - Patrick John, Luke Corriette and I - ironically of the Labour Party and the callous disregard for our role in this area of our history which if I dare say so is a conspiracy of silence which has made this new generation of Dominicans oblivious to the existence of the fathers of this nation.
We are the only remaining ministers who with Patrick John first gave assent to Ross University experiment at Castaways Hotel as well as my Cabinet which gave the license for the Ross Medical and Veterinary School at Picard Portsmouth .The vet school which was not at Castaways Hotel left for St Kitts under the incoming Government where it is still.
Luke Corriette did also join me following the events of 29th May 1979 to bring peace to the nation through the then CNS -Committee for National Salvation.
The intent to minimize and obliterate all our legacies is an act of malice and gross intent at ignominy and therefore I seek a public response from you to justify the action of you and your committees which at every commemorative event as was done at the 30th anniversary, seeks to disenfranchise our very existence as former leaders of the land.
Please advise as to the reason for the attempts to treat us as inconsequential and irrelevant while those then in diapers and pubescent take the centre stage of our independence celebrations.
History cannot be erased. Patrick John was our first Prime Minister and leader of the Labour Party of E.O. LeBlanc and his Cabinet of which I was a member and party president led us to Independence.
In closing may I also remind you that as the country's 2nd Prime Minister I did lead the country six months after our independence into retrieving our constitution and mandate for governance following a fleeing President and the dismantling of the office of the 1st Prime Minister due to the events of 29th May 1979 .
I did also serve my nation in its reconstruction as was demonstrated following Hurricane David-three months after our reconstruction of our independence constitution.
Although our people are constant in recognition and gratitude in my travels, I believe through your respective committees that our nation needs at least to say thank you.
Rev. Oliver J. Seraphin JP