Is the Premier abandoning his own national and executive selection?
It has been for several years this topic about a Montserrat National Song has surfaced time and time again. Very often at functions when the singing of an anthem seems appropriate and it is obvious that the organisers, be they from within the official walls of government or otherwise, the British National anthem would be overlooked, and in its place the program would show ‘A Patriotic Song’. But very rarely would the song be the National song that was for whatever reason has been undecorated since 1995 after being selected and approved.
Now the topic has surfaced again and at the possible highest level where the Hon. Premier Meade while in the UK attending the OTCC meetings in late November, was enlisting the support of the Montserrat Diaspora with the creation of national awards and symbols.
Taken from a ZJB newscast the Premier while addressing Montserratians in England said: “I have given a commitment that by next year we will have those Orders in place…we need to have from you, a contribution to the selection, to the writing, to the composition of a song, which we will call our national song…”
Just around that time while he was recently in London, the Premier should have received or about to receive an email from the writer of a national song which bears the title, “Montserrat My Country” by Denzil Edgecombe. This song was selected by committee set up by the NPP government of 1991-96 under the leadership of this now Premier, then Chief Minister Reuben T. Meade.
Shown here are Montserrat Reporter newspaper clippings from 30th June, 1995 which were just days before the volcano showed itself changing Montserrat life, since. The clippings are to be combined and read as one under the front paged caption ‘Lady & the Harp for Bramble’ and in the circle ‘Edgecombe wins National song contest’.
It will be seen that in that article the announcement where the “‘National Day Committee’ is seeking nominations for the Montserrat Order of Excellence Award”. Mr. Joseph Daniel, who today is residing in the US Virgin Islands and heading an energy department there, was the chairman of the committee and in 1995 said that every Montserratian would be considered for the award in every sphere of human activity. Nominations were to close on July 14, 1995 and awards announced on National Achievement Day, August 7, 1995.
The letter by email from Edgecombe expressed surprise to the Premier, that he after, “hearing you speak about the national song on several occasions, I am truly confused.”
He went on to say: ”I know your aim cannot possibly be to strengthen national pride by weakening its foundations. I say this because from recall, I understood you to be saying that Montserrat has no national song. But seeing that I know that you can’t possibly be unaware of the national song, it remains impossible for me to comprehend why you, of all people who spearheaded the song’s selection during your first term as Chief Minister in the 1990’s, should choose to diminish the value of everything that was accomplished in its selection. I can only assume that having publicly reaffirmed your commitment to establishing the national song, you may need to be fully briefed on its current status.”
Edgecombe’s letter went on to tell the Premier, “while I commend your personal commitment to promoting national pride, I have held, over the years since Montserrat My Country won the competition, that to declare and to promote the national song is the proper function of government.”
After recalling some of what transpired since the song was chosen, Edgecombe concluded his letter, referencing the article referred to above: (see a front page clipping Montserrat Reporter Vol. X1 No. 26 published Friday, 30th June, 1995).
He wrote, “I really was dismayed and disappointed to hear you declare that we don’t. I cannot think of any reason why one would seek to take away the honor bestowed on me personally when my song was chosen as the national song of Montserrat apart from that of bias, which is a trait you would not wish to encourage in our people. Furthermore, it is an unconscionable act to begin a process of nation building and fostering national symbols by committing such a flagrant violation to our chosen national song. This act will be on record throughout history, and as more people become aware of it, the issue will continue to divide the nation.
“As the current government, with stated interest in building national pride, you should have an official version of the national song, Montserrat My Country produced and popularized for the people of Montserrat.”
That song was performed only recently by the Lookout School at their annual concert held at the Cultural Centre.