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From humblest beginnings

In the 1950s, two young girls from the island of Tortola in the Virgin Islands sat next to each other in primary school and in high school.

One young girl from the east end of the island; the other from the central mountains of the island.

Rocky roads

As the stories go, theirs was a life of rural hardscrabble.

No electricity, no washing machines, no television and, unsurprisingly, no wi-fi.

As a matter of fact, they had no school buses or parents with private transportation to drop them at their school gates.

Chris Famous, left, Natalio Wheatley, Keisha Aniya McGuire, Benito Wheatley

For them, they had to rise early, do their chores and then walk miles to and from school up and down the mountain ranges of Tortola.

If they got lucky, they might catch a horse going uphill and hang on to the tail.

In school, they had teachers by the name of Loubelle Penn, Eileen Parsons, Proctor Scott, Leslie Allen and the legendary Ralph O’Neal.

These teachers instilled a sense of self-integrity, national pride and progressive values into hundreds of young Tortolians.

These tenants remained embedded into their generation, and in turn, these ladies dedicated their maternal skills to not just ensuring that their children were bathed, clothed and fed. No, they insisted on teaching their children about earning their rightful places in society.

This rightful place in society did not just come via such intangible things as having names of high social pedigree or having academic and technical accomplishments.

Their proper place in society was to come from those lessons handed down for generations. More than their rightful place in society, is doing what is right for society.

International arena

As fate would have it, on June 14, 2020, the sons of these two ladies happened to be in the same room.

However, this time it was not in a classroom in Road Town, Tortola.

On this particular occasion, the sons of those two ladies were sitting together inside of the meeting halls of the United Nations headquarters.

Representing the British Virgin Islands was the Deputy Premier, Natalio D. Wheatley, and his brother, Benito Wheatley, the BVI representative in the United States.

Sitting next to them, representing the Bermuda Islands, was T. Christopher Famous.

The purpose of the meetings was to attend the United Nations C24 committee meetings.

The UN C24 committee was established by the UN General Council in 1961 to deal with the implementation of the declaration on the granting of independence to colonial countries and peoples.

To be clear, neither Bermuda nor the British Virgin Islands governments went to the United Nations to declare independence.

The purpose was to have a physical presence at these important meetings, which traditionally have had only representatives of Britain present.

As importantly, these meetings allow for the countries that are still colonised to network and share knowledge and resources.

Other countries that were physically present included Western Sahara, New Caledonia, French Polynesia, Puerto Rico and Guam.

The chairwoman of this committee is Grenada national Keisha Aniya McGuire.

The next C24 meeting is scheduled for August in Dominica.

Thank you, Mama

If you see either Madita Wheatley (née Malone) or June Famous (née Fraser) along your travels, please let them know that all those days in school learning lessons under “Teacher Ralph” and all others that they passed on to their sons were well worth the time.

Christopher Famous is the government MP for Devonshire East (Constituency 11). You can reach him on WhatsApp at 599-0901 or e-mail at carib_pro@yahoo.com

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Published July 02, 2021 at 8:00 am (Updated July 01, 2021 at 2:36 pm)

From humblest beginnings

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