Saint Lucians Gather In Westminster To Celebrate Independence

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A small group of St Lucians gathered at Westminster Abbey in London on Monday, February 21st to attend an evensong hosted by the Cannon and the High Commission to mark St Lucia’s 43rd anniversary of independence.

The event is held every year at the World famous cathedral where the Incoming High Commissioner to the UK His Excellency Mr. Charles Severin was present to welcome the few members of the diaspora who attended. The event was short.

“I am looking forward to meeting the community here and to working with them.” H.E. Mr. Severin who is expected to take up his new post later on in the month said.

A spokesman from the High Commission said that the number of people invited to this year’s ceremony had to be restricted due to the current circumstances.

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Editorial Staff
Editorial Staff
Our Editorial Staff at St. Lucia Times is a team publishing news and other articles to over 200,000 regular monthly readers in Saint Lucia and in over 150 other countries worldwide.

1 COMMENT

  1. I would like to start by welcoming our new High Commissioner to London, the city I was raised in. His Excellency Mr. Severin will be St Lucia’s ambassador to the UK for the next 4 years I am assuming. Not much has been written about him in the press and according to what I have heard about him he seems to be an affable and amiable bloke. This diplomatic posting can change irrevocably in an instant. It normally happens when there is a change of government. The High Commissioner is charged with representing St Lucia’s vested interests in the UK.

    Over the years we have not been fortunate enough to know about the real work that they do. The vast majority of them have carried themselves impeccably well in the media-conscious city of London. A place where one cannot afford to commit any faux pas, gaffe, or blunders. The esurient and rapacious tabloids of Fleet Street with their insatiable appetite for gossip will devour a celebrity or a diplomat in a second with their pugnacious, lopsided, and aggressive reporting. No one is spared from their often spells of bellicose jingoism which they pass off as journalism. They will milk it for all it is worth. They don’t give a damn. It is all about selling newspapers and the mainly right-wing journalists making a name for themselves at the expense of anyone whom they take a dislike to.

    Over the years I have seen Right-wing newspapers like the Sun and Mail reduce celebrities and public figures to cannon fodder. They have tarnished reputations and besmirched once-mighty names all in the name of public interest when frankly speaking there was no public interest and need to do so. From the pictures and podcasts that I have seen of the new High Commissioner, he comes across as one who is punctilious, diligent, and meticulous. He looks like a conscientious man, who is willing to take his duties very seriously. They say a picture tells a thousand words and if his picture is anything to go by then I have seen an unpretentious, unostentatious self-effacing, and extremely obliging fellow. The affairs of St Lucia in the UK are in very good hands by the looks of it.

    Over the years I have visited the High Commission in London to attend events. The atmosphere was always buzzing and full of excitement which amounted to nothing in the end. They were once called the Eastern Caribbean High Commission before parting ways with their Caribbean neighbours to go solo and to now share a building with Dominica. I have heard endless stories about the place, some of which included some staff being unhelpful and not willing to help people in the diaspora whom they are paid to serve in their capacity as diplomats and as servants of the country overseas, to others being rude and insolent. I have not been there for many years now as I live mainly in Mainland Europe.

    It was not that long ago an official from the High Commission was summoned to the British Foreign Office to discuss the Juffali affair. The High Commission was cleared of any wrongdoing in the end and set free from reproach and imminent condemnation. They had never gotten themselves in any problems before with the British authorities. Previous ambassadors seem to have concerned themselves with the running of the High Commission rather than concern themselves with the antics and high jinks of the old-fashioned Foreign Office. This is a place where people who work there are not even permitted to tell anyone on the outside what type of tea they consumed. They take the wording of their official secret acts very seriously. The UK Foreign and Commonwealth office is an ancient dinosaur. You see nothing and you hear nothing in there otherwise heads will be rolling.

    The High Commission needs new ideas and a total revamp. There are no provisions put in place to help Saint Lucians who might have immigration woes in the UK. British immigration laws are the most complex in the world. The new immigration act is racist and sets out to stop the flow of black migrants to the UK while accepting Afghans, Iranians, Pakistanis, and other light-skinned immigrants who have no connection with the UK. We Caribbeans have always had a close connection with the UK mainland. Our people served as soldiers during both World wars. They helped defend Britain against hostility and brutality from her European neighbours. After the war, thousands of people from our beautiful archipelago came over to help rebuild the cities of the UK. The British were not always welcoming. I remember the signs which were put up in windows with the words ‘No Blacks, No Dogs, No Irish’ Those menacing six words were a stark, unapologetically racist expression of the xenophobia many immigrant communities in Britain faced after World War Two. The words may have gone but the sentiment that laid behind them is still relevant in Britain today. Britain has not changed.

    St Lucians in the UK needs proper representation. The High Commission should put things in place to help our nationals. There are many homeless St Lucians in London. Most of them have nowhere to turn to because they are not allowed to have recourse to public funds. During a recent visit to London, I have had to assist students who were homeless and destitute. How about setting up a charity charged with assisting St Lucians with immigration, homelessness, and other crucial problems in the UK? Many of our people are not allowed to utilize the services of the National Health Service. They have to pay a huge NHS surcharge in order to do so. That is totally harsh and unjustified. This is happening in a country that once owned our people. A country that milked our resources through servitude. Instead of being grateful Britain is anything but grateful for our contribution to making this country what it is today.

    I am imploring the new High Commissioner to put things in place to help the citizens of St Lucia who reside in the UK who need help. There are many out there who are struggling to make ends meet. They need to have the support of the High Commission. They need reassurances from the people charged with looking after their interests in the UK. The price of a passport has gone up from what I have been told. The passport only lasts for 5 years. How about a ten-year passport? One needs so many pieces of documents before a passport can be issued.

    The High Commission should also focus on the promotion of commercial diplomacy (trade, inward investment, tourism, and country image through supporting trade missions, establishing and facilitating contacts between business entities) in line with St Lucia’s development plan for the future

    The High Commission should strive to provide information and assistance to St Lucians in the Diaspora and encourage them to actively participate in developing St Lucia by sending remittances back home to their families which will also benefit the country. You have your work cut out Mr. High Commissioner. Our people especially the ones with dual citizenship are extremely hard to please. They can be difficult and are always expressing an opinion even if they are out of touch.

    I am pleased to welcome the High Commissioner to the UK. I would like to offer him my prayerful good wishes for the success of his mission. I trust that he will be afforded all the support that he needs both internally and externally and that he will work towards the betterment of St Lucians in the UK and at home..
    I cordially invoke God’s abundant blessings upon him and his family. Let us all work and support His Excellency, Mr. Anthony B Severin. Like George Odlum would say ‘Forward Ever Backward Never.
    Welcome to the Court Of St James and to the UK , Mr. High Commissioner.

    Viva St Lucia the land of my Beautiful Mother.

    Malcolm L’Overture
    Haitian -Lucian
    Paris France

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