NIA CHARLESTOWN NEVIS (AUGUST 02, 2013) — Nevisians were served with a dose of advice from Premier of Nevis Hon. Vance Amory, when he delivered remarks at a memorial service hosted by the Premier’s Ministry in the Nevis Island Administration (NIA). The event was held on Samuel Hunkins Drive on August 01, 2013 in commemoration of the 43rd anniversary of the MV Christena Disaster which occurred in the Narrows near Naggs Head on the southeast Peninsular in St. Kitts.
He told those present including Cabinet Colleagues, survivors of the incident and family and well wishers of the 233 persons who perished on that ill-fated voyage, that the memorial service and the permanent monument erected outside the Hamilton House, should be seen as an occasion to reflect on an important watershed in the history of Nevis and St. Kitts.
“This memorial service and this monument which has been created must mean something to us and we must see it, not as an occasion to open old wounds but as a necessary act which seeks to focus our mind on a significant watershed period in our history.
“Lest we forget, we must see this as an event which brought about a keener awareness of the social, economic and political plight of the people of Nevis and galvanised a change of direction for the future of our country as a whole,” he said.
Mr. Amory described the 233 persons who lost their lives in the disaster as an important part of the social and economic structure of St. Kitts and Nevis and said their loss shook the very core of the society in the unitary state of St. Kitts and Nevis
“Today we have assembled to remember the tragedy of the sinking of the MV Christena about the very time on August 1st 1970, an event which transformed the lives of the people of Nevis and St. Kitts because of the magnitude of the loss of lives and the fact that, that event traumatised every single household in our country…
“They [those who perished] were our heroes and examples of what our Nevis was, a country which was wholesome, peaceful, tranquil and a stable society which was never the same after this event of August 01, 1970,” he said.
The Premier regarded Nevisians/survivors as beneficiaries of an unwitting and final sacrifice who had vowed to remember those who perished just as they remembered those brave men and women who fought in the Great Wars of 1914-18 and 1939-45 to preserve the world from tyranny.
“Our loved ones whom we memorialise today were engaged in acts of survival; selling and buying to keep the economy alive; commuting to maintain the connection within our country and to celebrate another significant event in our history – the emancipation of slavery.
“Is there a supernatural connection in these two events? God alone knows but the first such event was a watershed period for all persons enslaved under Colonial rule and human degradation and the second which we officially commemorate today was a watershed period for the people of Nevis especially in their social, economic and political life; a part of the continuing evolution of our people as we move through this journey of human existence,” he said.
To those who survived the tragic event, Mr. Amory noted, they too should be remembered and expressed hope that the passage of time would continue to heal their wounds and strengthen the hearts and minds of all to make their beloved country a place in which all could live in peace, harmony and enjoy the piece of paradise which God had entrusted to them for the benefit of all who lived there and visited.
During the service, the national anthem was rendered by steel plan player Ranciato Jeffers of the Scherzando School of Music while the opening prayer was delivered by Pastor Eric Maynard who chaired the event. The scripture was read by a survivor Mr. Franklyn Browne, a poem was delivered by a child of one who perished Mr. Calvin Jones; a song was rendered by Ms. Gillian Vaughn and a sermonette was done by Pastor Denzil Roberts.
There was also an item by Mr. Orlando Vaughn and Mr. Keithley Brandy and later the names of those who perished were read by family members. Nearing the end of the service, wreaths were laid by Premier of Nevis Hon. Vance Amory on behalf of the NIA and the closing prayer was delivered by Pastor Jerry Languedoc.