The British Virgin Islands (BVI) and other countries in the region have been challenged to become more welcoming of Caribbean nationals.
Reverend Dr Terrence Griffith, a native of Grenada who now serves as pastor of the First African Baptist Church of Philadelphia, threw out the challenge yesterday afternoon, August 6.
He was guest speaker at the annual emancipation service held at the Sunday Morning Well on Tortola.
Dr Griffith said the BVI – like other Caribbean countries – is too small to survive on its own.
“We as Caribbean people, we must band together as one people,” he preached.
“If we do not come together, we are headed down the slippery slopes into slavery again.”
Dr Griffith further stated that, based on his experience, Caribbean nationals who travel throughout the region are not shown due respect, when compared to the courtesy usually extended to outsiders.
He wants immigration officers to be better trained.
“I travel throughout the Caribbean, and I find that there is not due respect for each other. We treat each other like foreigners…”
“We have to train our immigration officers that those who come from Trinidad, those who come from Jamaica, those who leave Tortola – they are still Caribbean people. We are one people,” Dr Griffith trumpeted.
He continued: “You want to know the truth, Tortola can’t survive by itself – too small. Grenada can’t survive by itself – too small. And if Jamaica thinks it’s big, it is still too small. And if Trinidad thinks it has oil, well, sooner or later oil will spoil. We have to get together as one people with common ideas and ideals.”
Dr Griffith, in a wide-ranging sermon, also lamented the collapse of the West Indies Federation in 1962 after the then wealthy Jamaica pulled out. He claimed that, since the Federation failed, the economies of the major Caribbean countries have worsened, and some now have to depend on assistance from the International Monetary Fund.
Dr Griffith also brought up the biblical story about Saul being converted to Paul. He added, “Sometimes God needs to knock us off our horses in order to get our attention. Sometimes God needs to put us on our backs in order to get our attention.”
Dr Griffith’s call for unity was endorsed by Reverend Dr Melvin Turnbull, who is Chairman of the Virgin Islands Heritage Committee, which spearheads the emancipation service each year.
“We have to understand that we are stronger together. All this divisiveness is playing in the hands of the enemy,” Dr Turnbull cautioned.
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