IN a bid to promote Trinidad and Tobago’s first Prime Minister, head of the Dr Eric Williams Memorial Committee Reginald Vidale wrote the Tobago House of Assembly (THA) and the Mayor of Port of Spain to request that a site be constructed in Williams’s memory.
Vidale said he was yet to get a response.
Vidale was speaking yesterday at the unveiling of a plaque in tribute to Williams at Harris Promenade, San Fernando.
“It is my feeling that the legacy and memory of Dr Williams do not seem to form part of the landscape of Tobago. My concern is that the children of Tobago are going to grow up knowing nothing about the father of the nation—Tobago and Trinidad—and those who should know better must hang their heads in utter shame,” Vidale said.
He said he received a quick response from San Fernando Mayor Navi Muradali after he asked for space to establish a monument to Williams during the recent unveiling of the bust to Venezuelan national hero Simon Bolivar.
Six weeks later, the Williams plaque was unveiled in the vicinity of other contributors of freedom and democracy, Jamaican Marcus Garvey, and Mahatma Gandhi.
In delivering an address, Vidale said he has clamoured for the last 31 years for Williams to be recognised and, in some instances, he is still waiting.
He said he contacted the THA in April 2012 and suggested the Botanical Gardens as a site for Williams to be honoured.
“I have received no reply and I am still waiting.”
He said it has been the same since he wrote the mayor of Port of Spain in January 2011.
“I strongly suspect I will have to wait on the new mayor,” Vidale said.
He said the younger generation is unaware of Williams and his contribution to this country.
Muradali agreed and called for the Government to ensure that more is taught about Williams in the schools.
“I am very disappointed that in our curriculum in schools, we learn so many things about Christopher Columbus and all these other persons who are historical in nature, but many of our young people leave our education system and not much is known about Dr Eric Williams. So I share your sentiments and I think I would take the opportunity to call on our Government to correct that. I would call on our Government to ensure that Dr Eric Williams has a place in our history books in our curriculum,” he said.
Muradali admitted that the decision to unveil the plaque was one of the fastest motions ever approved by his council.
He also told the gathering at the bandstand on the promenade about a quote from Williams that has been placed on the surface of the moon.
It reads: “It is our earnest hope for mankind that while we gain the moon, we shall not lose the world.”
Vidale thanked the mayor and said he planned to consult with Williams’s family on a suitable memorial for the site and he also plans to ask businesses in San Fernando to fund the project.
Vidale asked that the mayor next consider recognising former South African president and freedom fighter Nelson Mandela and American civil rights leader Martin Luther King.