Be At One (A Contract for Progress)
Thursday night’s historic signing of the Contract for Progress between the St. Kitts and Nevis Labour Party and the Nevis Reformation Party represents a watershed in the history of St. Kitts and Nevis. Two leaders, the Rt. Hon. Dr. Denzil Douglas (SKNLP) and the Hon. Joseph Parry (NRP) dared to face history straight in the face, boldly refused to follow the line of least resistance by trodding down the beaten path of separatism, but instead fashioned a new charter for the governance of the Federation which will ripples way down our history’s line.
And they did in a spirit of mutual respect and trust and in the full glare of thousands gathered simultaneously at Pinneys Beach (Nevis) and Port Zante (St. Kitts), and thousands following the live stream in the Diaspora.
For me, a Bob Marley fanatic, it became strikingly reminiscent of the 1976 “One Love” Peace Concert at the National Stadium in Kingston, Jamaica where the late reggae icon Bob Marley brought together on stage then Prime Minister Michael Manley and then Leader of the Opposition Mr. Edward Seaga. In a symbolic show of peace he got the two party leaders to clasp their hands above his head, in an era in Jamaica evolution where that was thought as unthinkable as their warring factions were in the throes of political warfare.
On a smaller scale, less tumultous scale, Thursday’s similar act with Jamaica performer I-Octane the man in the middle, symbolized the close bonds and friendship which have Kittitians and Nevisians, inextricably bound together. The event in the sultry December evening (18th) brought sharply to mind the recent 25th anniversary of the 1989 dismantling of the Berlin Wall, and Wednesday’s thaw in US-Cuba relations at the hands of visionary leaders US President Barack Obama and Cuban President Raoul Castro.
Thursday’s Contract for Progres boldly states” Working for all Kittitians and Nevisian nationals, we, the St. Kitts and Nevis Labour Party and the Nevis Reformation Party hereby agree to strengthen our relationship for the betterment of life and progress in our Federation.” It spoke of a sense of duty towards the entire nation, the need to protect the progress achieved by our nation, and envisaged a country based on inclusive policies and practices regardless of place of birth, social or economic status and political allegiance.
It also stated that while maintaining the identity, purpose and mission of each political party it intended to carry both island s into an era of collaboration, trust and transparency.
It pledged to:Protect and reinforce the right of Kittitians and Nevisians to decide their own future, safeguard the achievements that have allowed our Federation to set an example for growth and prosperity in the Caribbean, and to continue working for the benefit of all citizens of our Federation based on the principles of mutual respect, equity, transparence, fairness equality freedom and justice.
It also presented draft proposals for change. It stated, among other things, that: constitutional reform will be initiated,an SIDF office will be established in Nevis, a National Health Scheme to cover all Kittitians and Nevisians, tourism and transportation between the two islands shall be facilitated through investment to harmonise and improve the travel experience between the Charlestown and Basseterre Ferry Terminals.
The Contract for Prohgres asserts in its closing paragraph: ” We are presenting this to you our people, and await for the expression of your democratic will; we are one Nation Under God, and we are your and the Lord’s humble servants.”
Like President Obama and President Raoul Castro one day earlier, Prime Minister Denzil Douglas Douglas and the Hon. Joseph Parry took their place in history on Thursday evening with an event that will impact the lives of Kittitians and Nevisians for centuries.
It signified that “Leadership still matters.”