Does the Government of St. Lucia’s Diaspora plan include Atlanta, Georgia, or was it an error of omission in the Prime Minister’s Independence Day address?
This was one of the puzzling questions on the minds of most Saint Lucians gathered at a Lithonia, GA clubhouse last Saturday to mark our nation’s 34th year of Independence. Following the traditional church service at Christ Our Hope Catholic Church, a number of Saint Lucians gathered to listen to the Prime Minister’s address.
The Independence observance organized by the St. Lucia Association of Georgia is one of its major calendar events. During the celebration the speech was presented by President Denis Ishmael.
As the group listened intently to his reading of the prime minister’s speech, it became obvious that Atlanta, a major metropolitan city and international hub, was not among the list of cities mentioned: “We are a creative, ingenious people. We have proven this to the world. Let us prove it again, and to ourselves: from Parc Estate to Cap Estate; from fisher to farmer to pharmacist; in our capital’s streets and into all our communities; and of course in our Diaspora from California to Calgary, from Houston to the Yukon, in Peckham and in Panama, and in London, Washington, Havana, Miami and the Tri-State Area of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut.” Association president Denis Ishmael, commenting on the omission, said there seems to be a reluctance on the part of the authorities of past and present governments to seriously engage Atlanta as part of Saint Lucia’s Diaspora plan.
He lamented that Atlanta seems always to be bypassed for states such as Washington, New York, and Canada. He said: “We have tried on numerous occasions to get a government official to visit Atlanta but so far have been unsuccessful. Yes. we know that we are not voters, but the contribution we make by way of assistance to our homeland in times of greatest need, natural disasters like hurricanes, must be viewed as substantial, vital and necessary.”
To this end, a forthright and forward looking president announced that he has commenced negotiations an entire year in advance to woo Saint Lucia’s Ambassador to the United Nations, Ms. Menissa Rambally to visit Atlanta—“the city too busy to hate.” He hopes that by planning an entire year ahead of schedule, Saint Lucians living in Atlanta will be accorded the honor and respect of an official visit. Mr. Ishmael is striving to put an end to the apparent neglect of the city and aims to push Atlanta into the mainstream of the island’s Diaspora engagement. If we are to be loyal to the commendation, “Wheresoever you may roam; love oh love your island home,” then there must be reciprocity, urged Mr. Ishmael.