I looked sideways and gave him a look of, “Isn’t it quite obvious that I am trying to enjoy a moment of peace here,” however I responded quite nonchalantly. I said, “My name is Mutryce A. Williams, to my friends I am Tryce, Yaisa or Jay. I am from the federation of St. Kitts and Nevis.” Before I could retreat into my solitary abyss or ask him any questions, he jumped right in, “Isn’t that that island where there’s an alarming rate of crime?”
Without much thought I turned and faced him, smile placed on my face, I said quite resolutely, “Well it’s the Mother Colony of the West Indies. It’s as Kenrick Georges puts it a land of beauty. It is my country where hopefully once more peace would abound. It’s a land that’s captivating. It is a land that is steeped rich in culture with a town whose architecture and history is unrivaled and tacitly preserved. It’s the place where Mount Liamuiga stands tall, still kissed by undulating cane lands. It’s a place that redefines the stereotypical label of all tropical islands being just sun, sand, and sea. It is the home of the Gibraltar of the West Indies, Brimstone Hill; a UNESCO world heritage site which exudes such prominence. Simply put Sir, you haven’t experienced life until you’ve visited Brimstone Hill. It is truly a wonder to behold. It’s the land of the vervet monkey. It’s a place whose local cuisine is the most palatable I have ever tasted, and trust me I am not being biased. Just thinking about Jong’s roti, an evening at Fisherman’s Wharf, conch water by that man who has his shop near the Primary School in Sandy Point, and Fulton’s raisin roll, not to mention goat water, souse, cook-up, fungi and fish, and black pudding, just the thought has me salivating. And let me tell you something, because my palate is so discriminating, I end up comparing all foods to my native country’s food so I rarely eat out, because I am left wanting. Sir, I can go on and on.
My native land is the place where masquerades, clowns and mummies are referred to as sports. It’s the home of the Belmont and the Mansion Bull, and I am not speaking about a prized animal but rather a sport or as you may refer to it folklore. It’s the place where calypso is on the rise. It’s the place where Carnival and Christmas go hand in hand. It’s the place where bands like Nu Vybes, Grandmasters, and Small Axe still duke it out. It’s the place, although just 68 square miles where each village or area has its own dialect or intonation. And to think of it, it’s a dialect unlike any other. If I want to tell you that you are looking fine or very dapper, to express myself in my native tongue, just so that you understand how impressed I am with your outfit, I would tell you that you are, “stone moderation dress.” It’s the one place that I know of here in the region that when you say you are going for a drive “around the island” you are really going “around the island.” Sir, my country is a land of champions. It’s the place where Kim Collins was born. Do you remember him? You must! This is my St. Kitts and Nevis. My country is the one who gave the world off shoots like the actor Keith David, singer Corrine Bailey Rae, and the famed essence editor in chief and novelist Susan Taylor. Do you want me to go on?
This is the place whose essence flows through my veins, and whose essence will never leave. This is a place that I would defend because it is my native country, “nothing can wash that out.” This is the place where the green, yellow, black, red and white, the colours of our flag truly stands for something. It’s not just symbolic. Do you know that I have actually compared it to other flags? I have not just compared it for its beauty but also for its meaning. I have compared it for what it represents. It’s a flag which was designed by Ms. Edris Lewis, who might I add did such a phenomenal job. Green for our fertile soil, yellow for our year round sunshine, black for our African heritage, red for the blood of our forefathers, and the two white stars represent hope and liberty. Sir, so you see even though we may be going through these turbulent times, our flag is there to remind us that we are a fertile land. It is there to remind us most importantly from whence we came, and the two white stars are still there to let us know that there is hope and that we have liberty. Isn’t that something? I would like to say a special thank you to Ms. Edris Lewis. She is a visionary. She has given us something to look to and to be reminded always that regardless of what we may be going through that as a nation that there is still hope. Sir, may I ask, does your native flag have that?”
As I sat there eschewing my love for my native land to this stranger, Ellie Matt’s song, “I Love St. Kitts,” the Mighty Arrow’s song “Arise Citizen Arise,” and Crucial Bankie’s song “Liamuiga” all resonated through me, ‘Oh how I wish I had an I-Pod,’ at that moment so I could play these tunes for him. I realized how much I truly, truly loved St. Kitts. I realized that regardless of the turbulence that we are experiencing with regards to our current situation on crime, and what appears now to be some political instability, that disowning my homeland as I have seen some people do is not an option. I have run into Kittitians here and there who are quick to relay the latest negative news report. I have even heard discussions whilst walking into stores, “Oh I will never set foot in St. Kitts again…look what St. Kitts come to…I shame to say that I from St. Kitts.” I just want to say that I will never be ashamed to say where I am from. I now realize that as a born citizen of this land that I can’t allow anyone to walk away with the impression that my still beautiful nation with lots to offer is only a criminal’s paradise, this would be a grave injustice and a dishonour to the soil where I breathed my first breath, and where my navel string is buried. The sad thing however, is that until that stranger approached me, I had gotten bogged down with all of the news about crime and criminal activities that I had forgotten that St. Kitts and Nevis my home, my native land, my country, is still a gem. It is still a treasure. The truth is that I had forgotten not only that there would always be hope and liberty as clearly stated in our flag, but I had simply forgotten those powerful words in our nation’s national anthem, words that we as a people ought to hold on especially during these trying times.
O Land of Beauty!
Our country where peace abounds, Thy children stand free On the strength of will and love.
With God in all our struggles, Saint Kitts and Nevis be, A Nation bound together, With a common destiny.
As stalwarts we stand, For justice and liberty, With wisdom and truth,
We will serve and honour thee.
No sword nor spear can conquer, For God will sure defend.
His blessings shall for ever to posterity extend!