There are some true stories which need to be told about St. Vincent and the Grenadines and film might be a great avenue to do so.
St. Vincent is no stranger to being a movie filming destination. In fact, parts of the blockbuster film, Pirates of the Caribbean were filmed throughout St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
Less known is the 1996 disaster film, White Squall which was filmed in twelve different locations, including St. Vincent & the Grenadines.
St. Vincent, however, has its own stories, true stories worthy of being told through film. Here are five (5) of them:
1. The 1902 Volcanic eruption: This true story will make a good disaster movie which can help to raise awareness about living on small islands with volcanos.
According to UNESCO, over 1,500 people died in the aftermath of the eruption. The event happened hours before the eruption of Mount Pelee in Martinique which killed over 1,600 people.
Local sources say most of the victims were Kalinago people living in
Wallibou Estate, a thriving commercial hub at the time.
2. Chatoyer and the Black Carib Wars: St. Vincent has the shortest period of slavery in the Caribbean. It was also one of the few countries where the British signed a peace treaty (in 1773) with indigenous peoples.
This was due largely to the leadership of Paramount Chief Joseph Chatoyer. The resistance was so great that the cannons at Fort Charlotte were pointed inland to fight against the Caribs.
The resistance also affected sugar production. Historian Adrian Fraser captures it best:
Adrian Fraser, in Sugar, Slavery and Emancipation in St. Vincent – a breif overview
“While other Caribbean colonies had begun the production of sugar from the 1640s and 50s, St.Vincent was still in the hands of the Caribs who controlled what were considered the best sugar lands. Colonies such as Barbados and Antigua had, therefore, been producing sugar for over 120 years at the time when St.Vincent began its period of British colonisation. St.Vincent became a colony of Britain in 1763, and three years later it began to export sugar but in very small quantities. In fact the export in that year, 1766, was a mere 35 tons. By 1771 it had reached 2,218 tons. However, in 1828, following the expulsion of the Caribs, it reached 14,403 tons, an amount that was never surpassed in its history.”
3. Mother Sarah Baptiste: her story is one of selflessness and humanity. According to the University of the West Indies, Baptiste was honoured by the Committee for the Development of Women (CDW), for her outstanding service in the field of nursing.
Mother Sarah Baptiste was a woman who defied tradition, taught women of Carib descent self-respect, determination, and ambition. She was the oldest trainee Nurse at the then Kingstown General Hospital. According to Ithamar Charles’s book mother Sarah Baptiste, Sarah served as a nurse for 25 years – She delivered thousands of babies most- free of cost – and was at one point the only Nurse in the North of the mainland St. Vincent.
4. The ship that never returned: The Gloria Colita
Commissioned in 1939, after being built in Belmont, Bequia by Reginald Mitchell, the largest wooden sailing vessel ever constructed in the Caribbean, at the time, was used to transport lumber, sugar and other materials from as far as South America to Cuba and the USA.
According to Beacon of Flavour, in May 1941, the vessel was found drifting in the Gulf of Mexico after leaving Mobile, Alabama with a shipment of lumber destined for Havana, Cuba without Captain Reginald Mitchell or his Crew.
Up to today, no one knows what happened to the Captain or crew, but many theories are out there as to what might have happened.
5. The Great Exile: After killing Joseph Chatoyer, the British finally gained their grip on St. Vincent and moved swiftly to exterminate the black Caribs which had prevented them from settling on the island for over 200 years.
Over 5,000 Caribs, men, women, and children were forcibly removed from St. Vincent, sent to Baliceaux where many died, then on to Rotan Island, then to Central America, including Belize, Guatemala, and Honduras where their descendants still reside.
By: Demion McTair
Secrets of St. Vincent & The Grenadines