At the solemn, yet colourful home-going ceremony for Nevis’ first Premier, the Hon Dr Simeon Daniel, on Tuesday June 5 at the St. Thomas Anglican Church, a number of persons made tributes to his life and times, while the eulogy is being described in Nevis as a powerful homage to a fallen hero.
From two of the speakers we have learnt that Dr Daniel did not leave a blank page as was orchestrated by the Concerned Citizens Movement (CCM) that unseated his government, and that Nevis was his political backyard.
The Hon Mark Brantley is CCM’s deputy leader, but was not in active politics when his party defeated Dr. Daniel’s Nevis Reformation Party in 1992. Since records are available, he spoke based on those records. Hon Brantley, who was Dr Daniel’s partner in the law firm Daniel Brantley and Associates, did not allude to any blank page.
“It is love that caused this man from humble origins in Barnes Ghaut to give his life in the service of others,” said Hon Brantley. “It is love that caused him to constantly seek to find a better way for the people of Nevis. Sixth Form College; NHLDC and the distribution of land to the landless; Bank of Nevis; Four Seasons; Mount Nevis Hotel;
“Nevis Island Assembly; Nevis Island Administration; Independence for St. Kitts and Nevis’ Clause 113 of our Constitution; Nevis’ Offshore Sector; Improvements in water and electricity; University degrees for our teachers; Scholarships for our children. These initiatives in and out of Government were motivated by the love of others not of self.”
Nevis was Dr Daniel’s political backyard, not for reason he was its first Premier, but for the fact that he is the only man who represented all the parishes of Nevis. This was contained in the eulogy delivered by Mr Victor Jay Martin, who was a minister in Dr Daniel’s government.
“It is Sim Daniel who has the distinction of being the only politician in the history of Nevis to represent every single constituency on the island,” revealed Mr Martin. “1975 to 1980 he represented St. George’s and St. James. In 1983 he was elected to St. Thomas’. In 1984 he was Federal representative for S. Thomas and St. James.
“In 1987 he moved to St. John’s as the island representative and in 1989 he was the representative for St. John’s and St. Paul’s. No other politician in the history of St. Kitts and Nevis, perhaps the Caribbean, has contested and won elections in every single constituency.
“The records show, and the elders testify, that from Butlers to Bath, from New Castle to New River, in every village on some streets, in some alley, on some hill, in some valley, Nevisians throughout this land were embracing and voting for this one man, Daniel. But if we say that Daniel was a leader -- and we do and he was -- then we must remember that a general is a general because there are soldiers.”
Simeon Daniel was born in the village of Barnes Ghaut, and as the West Indian he was born and raised, he attended the St. Thomas Anglican Church, the church on the hill as Mr Victor Jay Martin referred to it. His last journey to the St. Thomas Anglican Church, as he would have willed, was on a gun carriage from the Charlestown Courthouse on Tuesday June 5, 2012.
“We know not when again we shall see such a man walk the streets of Nevis,” said Hon Brantley. “We know not whether such a man will ever be sent by God again to lead and inspire us. But if such a man never again comes to us, let all of Nevis remember that as the Israelites had their Moses, Nevisians have had their Simeon Daniel.
“He has been to the mountaintop of Barnes Ghaut and has come back not with Ten Commandments but with two: ‘Thou shalt love each other’ and ‘thou shalt love Nevis’.”
With all the speakers at the service speaking highly of Dr Daniel, it was Victor Jay Martin who hit the home run when he said: “The work of Daniel shows lessons in foresight, in courage, in patriotism, in gracious dignity. Today the future of Nevis has a potential more dynamic than imagined a generation ago. Today the memory remains.
“But it is a memory that ought to endure. For surely my friends we bring honour to ourselves and to our own land when we celebrate the memory of our noblest sons and daughters. There lingers the simple and undoubting conviction that such a noble son was Dr Daniel, and that this majesty of character, this selfless devotion to the homeland, this life of public service should well commend this great man for posthumous consideration as the next National Hero of St. Kitts and Nevis.”
In spite of what Dr Daniel and his NRP-led government did, he was unceremoniously booted out of office on June 1, 1992 by the electorate after it was fed with lies and innuendos. In my article last week, I had a reference where Mr Evered ‘Webbo’ Herbert of VON Radio put it to a panellist on the Let’s Talk Programme that his contesting the St. John’s seat in 1992 contributed to Dr Daniel’s loss -- the panellist accept it.
The dutiful West Indian I am, I sought solace in the Bible and found scriptures that would pacify the NRP government which had done so much for its people yet lost office in 1992. I did not want to quote those scriptures as I am mortally afraid of Nevis’ self-appointed gatekeeper to moral conscience, a man who is bent on writing my epitaph by literally challenging my use of scriptures.
I was however given a lifeline by Mr Evered ‘Webbo’ Herbert, a true West Indian who gets satisfaction, and in the process inspires a nation, when he liberally quotes Biblical scriptures to expound on his line of thought. On Monday morning June 11 he took words from my mind and spoke them on his ‘Morning Inspiration’ programme.
The following words that I am going to quote verbatim as I heard them are not by Llewellyn ‘Duke’ Parris, nor were they been inspired by him. I am quoting Webbo out of his own inspiration, and hopefully any fire this time will not be directed to me.
“We did the book of Ecclesiastes chapter 12 today, we did verses 8 through to 14. But from since I read that just after six o’clock, these two verses kept haunting me. Verse 13 -- Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: ‘Fear God and keep His commandments for this is the whole duty of man’, and reading on ‘For God shall bring every work into judgment, with very secret thing, whether it good, or whether it be evil.’
“And as I read those last lines, I am thinking to myself: Sometimes we don’t hear the conclusion of the whole matter, because I think if the preacher for instance were to read this passage of scripture and talk about it, some of us will get upset and go away thinking that the preacher is only focussing on whether it be evil.
“But before that it said, whether it be good. So, none of us, most of us need to worry about nothing, because I have hardly ever met a man who will admit he has done evil things. So, whether it be good, so all those of us who are doing good things -- because none of us do evil things mark you -- we want to focus on this verse:
“‘For God shall bring every work into judgement, with very secret thing, whether it be good or whether it be evil’.
“And the final thing today that is haunting me, you see, lately I have been struggling between, as I think most people do in between things that are good and benefitting from it, and things that are evil and benefitting from it. And you know that they say open confession is good for the soul, so I have got to confess.
“That sometimes I wonder whether it makes any sense trying to do what is good because it seems as if evil is prevailing, but I encourage us to hold on a little longer because this poet wrote this -- it is entitled The Better Way:
It is better to lose with a conscience clean, than to win with a trick unfair.
It is better to fail and to know you being whatever the price was square
Than to claim the joy of a (inaudible) of gold and the chairs of the passerby
And to know down deep in your inmost soul, a cheat
You must live and die
“You see who wins by tricks may take the prize and that first he may think it is sweet, but many a day in the future lies, when he will wish he had met defeat. For the man who lost shall be glad at heart and walk with his head up high, while his conqueror knows he must play the part of a cheat.
“And they live in lie, the price seems fair when the fight is on but since it is not truly won, you will hate the thing when the crowds are gone for it stands for a false (inaudible -- but it sounds like ‘deal done’), and it is better you never should reach your goals than ever success to buy, at the price of knowing down deep in your soul that your glory is all a lie.
“And finally, with your permission, again to the book of Ecclesiastes Chapter 12 and verse 14: ‘For God shall bring every work into judgement, with every secret thing, whether it be good or whether it be evil’.”
The above quote is rather lengthy but is worth it -- every word of it. Dr Simeon Daniel has been vindicated.
In the meantime, while on the Morning Inspiration programme on Tuesday June 12, Mr Herbert apologised to his listeners saying that he had said Ecclesiastes chapter 2 instead of Ecclesiastes chapter 12. But unless he meant the reading just after 6 am, which I did not listen, in the above quoted paragraphs he did say Ecclesiastes chapter 12 and not Ecclesiastes chapter 2.