PM Says: ‘Sir Neville Has Always Swum Against The Raging Tide!’
The dogs bark,” goes a favorite Arab aphorism, “but the caravan moves on.” The pithy observation came to mind yesterday morning as I took in the televised ceremony to mark the installation of Mr. Emmanuel Neville Cenac as Saint Lucia’s sixth governor general. Especially remarkable were the sections of Prime Minister Allen Chastanet’s address that underscored the history and contributions both of the newcomer and his predecessor Dame Pearlette Louisy, who on December 20 confirmed that she would demit office ten days later, after a record 20 years at Government House.
On Friday morning, with several dignitaries local and foreign in attendance, Cabinet Secretary Ben Emmanuel introduced Sir Emmanuel, who then took the Oath of Office in the presence of Justice Louise Blenman of Guyana.
Then it was time to hear from the prime minister. “Permit me to recognize in the parliament Chamber today,” he said, “the former governor general Dame Pearlette Louisy. Dame Pearlette will always be an icon and an inspiration to our country.” Mr. Chastanet expressed his gratitude for her “dedicated years of distinguished service” and for her “devotion to the preservation of our Creole culture.” He assured the retired governor general that she would “forever be honored by Saint Lucia” and thanked her for her “exemplary dedication.”
As for her replacement: “Every governor general of Saint Lucia has his or her own legacy,” the prime minister observed, “and Sir Neville [shouldn’t that have been Sir Emmanuel?] will undoubtedly do the same.”
Following his reminder about the various positions the new governor general had held over some sixty years, the prime minister addressed (with what looked like a mischievous smile) that aspect of the life of Neville Cenac that occurred in 1987—and remains a sore point, especially for older supporters of the Saint Lucia Labour Party.
Said the prime minister with an unmistakable glint in his eye: “He was 48 years a politician and it can hardly be a secret that he was famously associated with at least three political parties, which, I might add, is hardly unique in Saint Lucia. It is also recorded in Hansard, his selfless reasons for changing political allegiances following the 1987 general elections. It took much courage to do as he did in his particular circumstances at the time—as Sir John was quick to acknowledge. He had himself found good reason in his own time to move from one political organization to another that he considered better equipped to deliver the aspirations of our people.”
The prime minister went on: “The easy road has never attracted Sir Neville. Throughout his professional life he has never lacked the courage to swim against the raging tide when necessary. He has always followed his heart. It is clear that Sir Neville has never been ordinary.”
Following the swearing-in ceremony, the specially invited joined the new governor general for the ritual reception at Government House.