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Somerset Primary can never be West End

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Diallo Rabain, the Minister of Education, is not everyone’s cup of tea in the Somerset community (File photograph by Blaire Simmons)

On the evening news of November 7, 2022, the Minister of Education suggested that West End Primary School’s name be transferred to the proposed new Somerset Primary School.

Once again, he has insulted the history of West End Primary School. Surely by now the minister must realise that we are not shallow or simple-minded people who can easily be pleased or swayed by the switching of names.

In his statement, he also added that the West End Primary School in its past had been located in four other locations. This may have been new and exciting news for him, but we have always known this. If he was attempting to appease us, he failed.

I noticed the minister neglected to mention one very important detail. These locations were always where the majority of the population lived. This has not changed. I also noticed he failed to mention that Somerset Primary, whose name he wants to change to West End Primary, sits off the beaten track and is considered a monument to past racism within this community. Somerset people know this, but we continued to live together in harmony until he decided to present grandiose plans devised and delivered by foreign experts.

What this has caused is a resurfacing of the pain inflicted by the past. Once again the community is upset and divided. Then again, how would he know? Our MPs, except for two, remain silent and therefore, I suspect, are in agreement. Possibly, they are too afraid to “buck the system”. How can we forget the one who in her maiden speech described us as a “bunch of whiners” who need to find something else to protest against. These representatives did not grow up in this parish and now we realise are unable to empathise with us.

The residents of Somerset are very particular and extremely possessive about the manner in which the name “West End” is used. Many will remember the early 1990s when the United Bermuda Party completed the building of the prison at Dockyard. It was to be named the West End Correctional Facility. Although this offended many in the community, it was the strength and endurance of the West End Primary School’s PTA who vigorously and successfully protested the naming of the facility and demanded it be changed. The government acquiesced and the name was changed to Westgate.

History is important and moulds who we are. I firmly believe that the minister and the team that surrounds him have failed to understand, or possibly don’t care about, the importance of history and its relevance to the psyche of the Somerset community.

You’ve breezed in with your all-too-familiar, take-it-or-leave-it attitude and expect us to fall in line. Fighting for what we truly believe is a part of the genetic make-up of the majority in this community. When a school struggles for generations to survive, its history both written and oral is entrenched in the minds and hearts of every generation, and strengthens our will. We are strong and we are determined.

Let me remind and reinforce, yet again, that you have insulted the parish that fought to unseat the UBP and reward you with four seats. Now, you don’t care what the constituents feel or say — you’re in and you’ve decided that you know exactly what we need. Well, here’s a shot across your bow: elections have consequences. Continue to irritate us and you will surely feel the brunt of our ire.

A new facility in an area predicted for future flooding, remote from the community and against the wishes of the majority of this parish will certainly prove to be your Achilles' heel.

Cecille C. Snaith-Simmons is a retired nurse, writer and historian, and a former student of West End Primary School

Cecille C. Snaith-Simmons is a retired nurse, writer and historian, and a former student of West End Primary School

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Published November 15, 2022 at 7:53 am (Updated November 15, 2022 at 7:53 am)

Somerset Primary can never be West End

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