It is often implied that good things come to those who wait, and the residents of Vieux Fort certainly have waited; seventeen years to be exact. Even the Prime Minister and Parliamentary Representative for the area, Dr. Kenny Anthony, confessed that the project had been left on the back burner for too long. According to the finance minister, the members of his constituency had repeatedly requested the newly refurbished Square.
“This project has always been the wish of the people of Vieux Fort South and you have, in several conversations with me, repeatedly asked that we do something about the square. I am now in my seventeenth year as parliamentary representative for Vieux Fort South; this project has been a long time coming. And I want to ask you to forgive me that it has taken your patience, for trusting me that it would be done. You deserved it, you needed it, and you said to me it had to be one of our priorities,” Dr. Anthony explained.
At the opening ceremony on Sunday, the residents of the area in attendance appeared to be in good stead with the square, as the grand opening drew a very reasonable audience. But the question loomed: Who exactly was feeling the sense of fulfillment? The residents or their parliamentary rep who recently gave them a million-dollar promenade?
The PM had earlier been showered with praise for his hard work and efforts, with expressions of heartfelt thanks and gratitude coming from Winhall Joshua, Mayor of Vieux Fort.
Bringing politics into what was supposed to be a square for all of the people of Vieux Fort South, the Mayor and former ambassador and former politician labelled his boss as a “saviour” to Vieux Fort.
“Before Dr. Anthony, people didn’t know what to do. Those in authority and power didn’t care about us. And Kenny had all of Saint Lucia to choose to run for election, but he said, “I will go where the people need me most. I will go where I can do the most good,” he boasted.
“He came at a time when we were living in desert of selfishness, a desert of crime, of bitterness; we were living in a time of greed, in a time when we didn’t care about our friends and family,” Joshua added, as if to say these things don’t happen in the south anymore.
Then this: “When Kenny came, he started working on creating an oasis of love, of kindness, of togetherness, of empathy, of compassion, of which the people of Vieux Fort and Saint Lucia would benefit from.”
Was Joshua talking about the second coming of Jesus Christ?
Joshua then alluded to a “gift” to the PM’s wife as a “bribe” in exchange for a safe VF South seat for eight more years. He failed to say whether Rosemary Antoine would also be given the task of rewriting the SLP’s constitution that would allow King Kenny to run another election.
At the podium, Kenny praised those who had offered generous words and comments but offered this: “It has been said that this project was my brainchild, was my vision; that’s not so. I don’t deserve it.”
“There’s been much debate about this square, some of it in the media, social and otherwise. There are many who have doubted its economic value to this country, there are many who have said in these economic times: “Why do you want to build a square?” But I want to take it that, in this island of ours, we have to learn to develop our country fairly.
“Developing our country fairly evidently means that you have to make sure that you provide every town and community with similar amenities. You must not ever discriminate in favor of any one part against the other. There must be balance in what we do in every sense of the word because this island is too small to separate into enclaves. It must be done to all of us,” said Kenny Anthony.
The prime minister then expressed his desire to have the park don the name of an unsung hero within the community. “I want to tease your minds by asking whether you think that the time has not come to name the square after a distinguished Vieuxfortian. I am not interested in the political colour . . . I simply would want it to be named after a Vieuxfortian who has given this town service, character, and who has attempted to love this town in ways that only you can understand. A son of the soil who has distinguished himself or herself in more ways than one,” he continued.
Could the good doctor be speaking of a man earlier described by his Mayor?
Although he dissented from the accolades, the PM still managed the miracle worker image. Even his sick minister of Social Transformation, Harold Dalsan, was there in a neck brace to bear witness. And even the animals were feeling the ‘oasis of love.’ The Catholic parish priest of Vieux Fort, Fr. Kevin Murray, tasked with blessing the park was accompanied by two dogs which he happily referred to as his ‘parishioners’.