Posted by: caribbeanbookblog | June 29, 2014

Call for Submissions: The Caribbean Writer – Volume 29


The Caribbean Writer, an international literary journal with a Caribbean focus, has announced a submissions call for its 29th edition. Issues unique to the Caribbean should be central to the work or it should reflect a Caribbean heritage, experience and perspective

Besides the usual poetry, short fiction and essays, Volume 29 will highlight contradictions and ambiguities in the Caribbean space. Interviews, personal narratives and one-act plays highlighting this theme are also welcome.

Writers are encouraged to submit poems (5 maximum), short stories and personal essays on general topics and also on themes pertaining to Caribbean musicians and visual artists.

One-act plays will also be accepted. Only previously unpublished work will be considered. (If self-published, give details.) Include brief biographical information and list all contact information plus the title of the manuscript on a separate page. Only the title should appear on the manuscript.

All submissions are eligible for the following prizes:
• The Daily News Prize for best poetry ($300)
• The Canute A. Brodhurst Prize for best short fiction ($400)
• The David Hough Literary Prize to a Caribbean author ($500)
• The Marguerite Cobb McKay Prize to a Virgin Islands author ($200)
• The Charlotte & Isidor Paiewonsky Prize for first-time publication ($250)
• The Cecile deJongh Literary Prize to an author whose work best expresses the spirit of the Caribbean ($500).

Email submissions to as attached Word or RTF files OR submit via the “Submissions” page at Submissions may also be mailed to: The Caribbean Writer, University of the Virgin Islands, RR 1, Box 10,000, Kingshill St. Croix, VI 00850-9781. Include SASE for response. Submission deadline is December 30, 2014.

For more information, visit or email


Posted by: caribbeanbookblog | April 17, 2014

Gabriel García Márquez is Dead


Gabriel García Márquez, the Colombian novelist whose “One Hundred Years of Solitude” established him as a giant of 20th-century literature, died on Thursday at his home in Mexico City. He was 87. 

Cristóbal Pera, his former editor at Random House, confirmed the death. Mr. García Márquez learned he had lymphatic cancer in 1999, and a brother said in 2012 that he had developed senile dementia. Read more in the New York Times

Posted by: caribbeanbookblog | April 4, 2014

Gabriel García Márquez hospitalised in Mexico City

gabrial garcia_marquez

Nobel prize-winning Colombian author Gabriel García Márquez was hospitalised on Thursday in Mexico City.

García Márquez, whose career spans journalism to the fantastical novels that inspired the genre of magical realism, lives in Mexico City. The 87-year-old Nobel laureate entered the hospital Monday suffering from the infection and from dehydration, Mexico’s Secretary of Health said in a written statement.

“The patient has responded to treatment. Once he’s completed his course of antibiotics his discharge from the hospital will be evaluated,” the statement said. Read more in the Guardian.

Posted by: caribbeanbookblog | March 21, 2014

Write an article on ‘Generation-Y’ and get a cash prize of $200

readwave 002

Readwave, the online platform that helps writers promote and share their stories and articles and gain exposure, is inviting bloggers and writers from all over the world to share their views on the topic of ‘Generation Y’ for an opportunity to win a cash prize of US$200.

Generation-Y is one of the hot topics being debated all over the world as more and more people ponder what the future holds for this cohort, also known as the Millennials, or the YOLO Generation.

The Pew Research Centre, an American think tank, lists the Millennial birth range as those born after 1980. It’s the generation dubbed by some as the “Why-can’t-I-have-it-now” generation; a generation that is glued to social media and into selfies, drunken snapchats, instagramming, and for whom picking up a smartphone or going on the internet has become second nature.

Every generation has its own set of values, aspirations and challenges, and that’s what makes the times we’re living in so exciting, notwithstanding all the uncertainties and challenges we face.

Readwave has launched this new initiative in a bid to stimulate debate and generate new insights on the topic. It invites writers and bloggers to write an article expressing your thoughts on Generation-Y and submit it to the website for an opportunity to win a cash prize of $200.

Rob Tucker, Managing Editor at, explains:

Robert Tucker

“We’re calling all bloggers, writers, thinkers, part-time philosophers and aspiring journalists to write an 800-word article on the theme of Generation-Y. Enter it into our Gen-Y competition on ReadWave and the article that receives the most ‘likes’ will win a cash prize of $200 (or equivalent value in your local currency).

“We accept entrants from all over the world. Articles that are over 800 words will not be considered. The deadline for submissions is 14th April. For more information, visit

For more information about Readwave, check out the article Discover a New World of Stories at ReadWave on Caribbean Book Blog.

Also, check out Readwave on Facebook.

Posted by: caribbeanbookblog | March 17, 2014

6 Finalists in Running for Burt Award for Caribbean Literature

Dianne Brown

Dianne Brown

Joanne C Hillhouse

Joanne C Hillhouse

Joanne Skerrit

Joanne Skerrit

A-dZiko Gegele

A-dZiko Gegele

The finalists for the inaugural Burt Award for Caribbean Literature have been announced.

The Burt Award for Caribbean Literature was established by CODE – a Canadian charitable organization that has been advancing literacy and learning for 55 years – in collaboration with William (Bill) Burt and the Literary Prizes Foundation. It is the result of a close collaboration with CODE’s local partners in the Caribbean, the Bocas Lit Fest and CaribLit.

The shortlisted titles are:

  • Island Princess in Brooklyn by Diane Browne, Jamaica (published by Carlong)
  • All Over Again by A-dZiko Gegele, Jamaica (published by Blouse & Skirt Books)
  • Barrel Girl by Glynis Guevara , Trinidad and Tobago (manuscript to be published)
  • Musical Youth by Joanne Hillhouse, Antigua and Barbuda (manuscript to be published)
  • Abraham’s Treasure by Joanne Skerrett, Dominica (published by Papillotte Press)
  • Inner City Girl by Colleen Smith Dennis, Jamaica (published by LMH Publishing) 

The finalists were selected by a jury administered by The Bocas Lit Fest and made up of writers, literacy experts and academics from the Caribbean and Canada.

“In the Caribbean, as in much of the world, demand for relevant, entertaining books that speak to young people in their own language is constantly growing,” said CODE Executive Director Scott Walter. “With the Award, we’re hoping to help address this demand by supporting the development of new titles that reflect the lives of their readers, while providing opportunities for promising writers to emerge and regional publishers to prosper. Our ultimate goal is for young people across the Caribbean to have access to good books they will enjoy so they can develop the love of reading and become lifelong learners.”

The three winners of the first edition of this annual Award will be announced on April 25th, 2014 at a Gala to be held as part of the NGC Bocas Lit Fest in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago. A First Prize of $10,000 CAD, a Second Prize of $7,000 CAD and a Third Prize of $5,000 CAD will be awarded to the authors of the winning titles. In addition, publishers of the winning titles will be awarded a guaranteed purchase of up to 2,500 copies, ensuring that the books get into the hands of young people through schools, libraries and community organizations across the Caribbean. Winning publishers also commit to actively market an additional minimum of 1,200 copies of each winning title throughout the region.

Marina Salandy-Brown, founder of The Bocas Lit Fest says, “We are delighted to be working with CODE and William Burt in administering this exceptional prize that not only supports writers of an underserved genre in the Caribbean – young adult literature – but publishers too, and which addresses headlong the critical issue of marketing and distribution in our region.”

CODE’s Burt Award is a global readership initiative and is also currently established in Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Tanzania and Canada.

For further details on the Burt Award for Caribbean Literature, go to   

Posted by: caribbeanbookblog | February 16, 2014

Chasing a Miracle – new book tackles the ‘unexplainable’

Chasing a MiracleThere is an extraordinary event that takes place every year in Italy. Many devoted Catholics travel to the Doumo (cathedral) of Naples to witness the “miracle of the blood” – the liquefaction of what is believed to be a sample of the blood of St. Januarius kept in a sealed glass ampule.

St. Januarius, or San Gennaro, was martyred during the persecutions of the Roman Emperor Diocletian around 305 CE. A former Bishop of Naples, he is believed to have died while visiting Christians imprisoned in Rome.

Three times every year in September, the faithful gather on the streets of Naples in their thousands and make their way to the city’s cathedral to pray for a miracle; that the the 5th century martyr’s blood would liquefy right before their eyes. It is believed that after his death, Bishop Januarius’ blood was preserved and, over centuries, it solidified into solid, stone-like particles. According to eye witness accounts since the 14th century, the particles change into liquefied blood on special holy days and it is considered to be a sign of blessing and protection for the faithful.

As part of a documentary on miracles that he was producing for the BBC, British journalist Mark Dowd attended a recent celebration of the feast of Saint Januarius in Naples where the miracle reportedly reoccurred.

If you think that belief in miracles is a Catholic preserve, think again. A recent report commissioned by the television production company CTVC and the religious think-tank Theos in the UK revealed that among 21st century Britons, one in six people are convinced that they or someone they know personally has experienced a miracle.

A new survey by the US market research firm, Harris Poll found that 72 percent of Americans believe in miracles. Other studies have shown that over the past two decades the number of Americans who believe in religious miracles increased – despite the fact that more people appear to be turning their backs on organized religion.

Against this backdrop author, Eliot Hartford Bailey sets out to tackle what many describe as the supernatural, in his new mystery-thriller novel, Chasing a Miracle.  He makes sure to distinguish miracles from hocus-pocus or even serendipity. The book is the first in a trilogy of the same name.

Eliot Bailey

Eliot Bailey

In Chasing A Miracle Chief Investigator and protagonist Dr. Adam Bell knows all too well the difference between miracles and sleight–of-hand, often dubbed as magic. After all, ‘miracles’ are his business; he is charged with investigating them at the Bureau of Scientific Skepticism (B.O.S.S).  Under the Bureau’s secret agenda, his job is to prove that incidents deemed to be miracles can be explained scientifically and objectively.  However, in the process he discovers that science is only able to rationalise some of those occurrences and others are indeed unexplainable. His intellectual curiosity pushes him to look more deeply into the nature of miracles.

In a tragic and ironic twist, Dr. Adam Bell’s pregnant wife is infected with a fatal virus and it seems the only thing that can save her is a miracle. In his desperation to save his wife and unborn child, Dr. Bell presses on with his scientific investigations, which result in the astounding breakthrough discovery of of an ancient code that potentially holds the clue to miracles. When caught trying to conceal the code, Bell’s boss issues a spine-chilling ultimatum. Bell must follow the universe’s mysterious path of seemingly random opportunities and apply the code to engineer a miracle.

A Saint Lucian national with British roots (his father is from the UK), Eliot Bailey is the co-owner and managing director of LucianStyle, one of Saint Lucia’s leading tour companies. He has crossed paths with many celebrities, including Oprah Winfrey whom he met during her visit to the island some years ago. She offered him some words of wisdom. Bailey said she was quite an inspiration to him.

Bailey has had his own brush with the unexplainable. During the writing of his book, a woman whom he had never met before visited his office and had surprising knowledge of his name and face and she claimed to have been sent to him by the Holy Ghost with a message from God himself. This happened in the presence of his staff. To this day he has no idea who she is or where she came from.

“An unfathomable experience, surely not one to be taken lightly,” says Bailey. “It was one which only further fuelled my fire in the creation of what I believe you will discover is a stimulating trilogy.”

Chasing a Miracle is available from Amazon and other online bookstores.

Click  here to check out Bailey’s website.

Posted by: caribbeanbookblog | February 4, 2014

Fashion Africa: new book showcases the Glory of African Fashion

fashio africa cover

When the Black British children’s writer, Malorie Blackman was appointed Britain’s Children’s Laureate in June 2013, she wasted no time drawing public attention to a problem in book publishing in the UK that has long been a source of anguish to many of the country’s writers; a lack of ethnic and cultural diversity in children’s books. Blackman, best known for her Noughts and Crosses series for teenagers, told the Guardian as a child she never came across black writers or black characters in the books she read.

“I still remember feeling I was totally invisible in the world of literature,” said Blackman. Many African, Caribbean and other Ethnic Minority writers of adult fiction and non-fiction in the UK have been voicing the same concern for decades.

Across the pond, in America, author, Roxanne Gay caused a stir after she did an informal survey which revealed that 90% of the books reviewed in the New York Times are written by white authors. Discussing the survey findings in her article Where Things Stand, in the Rumpus, she lamented: “These days, it is difficult for any writer to get a book published. We’re all clawing. However, if you are a writer of colour, not only do you face a steeper climb getting your book published, you face an even more arduous journey if you want that book to receive critical attention. It shouldn’t be this way.”

Jacaranda Books founder, Valerie Brandes

Jacaranda Books founder, Valerie Brandes

Valerie Brandes agrees. A proud Londoner of Caribbean heritage, she’s the founder and publisher of Jacaranda Books, a new independent trade publisher of fiction, non-fiction and illustrated books, based in London.

Jacaranda Books aims to promote diversity in the publishing industry by producing ethnically, culturally and socially diverse books, with a particular interest in Africa, the Caribbean and the Diaspora.

Brandes is a keen supporter and promoter of diversity in publishing, having worked closely with organisations such as Equality In Publishing (EQUIP) which was created to address the concerns of groups traditionally underrepresented within all areas of the UK publishing industry.

This year promises to be an exciting one for Jacaranda Books. It is scheduled to publish six titles from a diverse set of authors, including fashion professional Jacqueline Shaw, spoken-word poet and writer Anthony Anaxagorou, Caine Prize shortlist nominee, Pede Hollist of Sierra Leone, and Jamaica-born writer, activist and academic professor, Patrick Wilmot.

Jacaranda Books’ first title, Fashion Africa is due for release on February 27. The author, Jacqueline Shaw is another Londoner with Caribbean roots. In this groundbreaking book, which was originally self-published, she explores the fashion renaissance currently going on in Africa, from ready-to-wear to haute couture, and street clothes to luxury wear. The book is the first of its kind to bring together designers, design companies and ethical manufacturers among others, all with an African connection.

Jacqueline Shaw

Jacqueline Shaw

It showcases over 40 of Africa’s best and most talented fashion designers with over 200 stunning photographs and revealing interviews. The designers are among an emerging cadre of couturiers who are helping to transform the fashion industry in Africa and the Diaspora with their sensational ranges. In the process they are infusing the runways with a new Afrocentric brand of glamour rivalling that of Europe and North America’s fashion houses. Their designs have been specifically sourced from Africa and include sustainable cottons and silks. Their techniques (traditional weaving or batik) also display a uniquely African influence.

Fashion Africa is the product of Shaw’s extensive travelling and research throughout the continent, chronicling the fashion and textile industry and social enterprises from Ghana and Nigeria to Southern Africa.

The publication heralds the emergence of two outstanding female professionals, both with their hearts set on pushing the door open wider to multicultural and multiethnic talent.

Shaw is absolutely thrilled to be published by Jacaranda Books. She said, “My experience with Jacaranda Books has been quite positive. To have a publisher see my self-published book at an event and decide on the spot that they wanted to publish it and give it the promotion it deserved humbled me. The team at Jacaranda has not only believed in the book but believed in me too and so I’m glad to have the opportunity to work with them.

“Now that Fashion Africa is published, I am quite excited and often can’t believe that this project of mine has fully taken the reins and is riding its course. It is a great time to be in, and I look forward to seeing where it goes. and to future book projects!”

Jacqueline Shaw is the creator of the blog Africa Fashion Guide. It was rated by The Guardian as one of the top ten African fashion blogs. . She’s a professional fashion designer with a background working and designing for fashion companies PUMA, Russell Athletic, Ocean Pacific, Fila, Chilli Pepper in London to name a few, and Babylon Princesse (Talent in Shanghai) in China.

Shaw is also the owner of ethical designer wedding dress company Latibeau Ltd. She holds a Ba (Hons) degree in Fashion from the Surrey Institute of Art and Design and a Masters Degree in Ethical Fashion. She has worked with the Ethical Fashion Forum representing African businesses at their Source Expo events and has written for the West Africa Trade Hub/USAid website and Dazed and Confused magazine whilst on placement with them during her BA (Hons) degree.

Posted by: caribbeanbookblog | January 21, 2014

Call for Entries: Dundee International Book Prize 2014

Dundee International book prize logoThe UK’s most lucrative prize for unpublished authors has once again opened for entries, with a place amongst the literary elite on offer for the writer who stands out from a field featuring some of the world’s best undiscovered novelists.

Submissions are being sought for the Dundee International Book Prize 2014, with a £10,000 cash prize and a coveted publishing contract with Cargo Publishing up for grabs. Budding authors are invited to enter their debut novels for the Prize, which last year attracted more than 350 entries from across the globe. The 2013 winner was Irish writer Nicola White with In The Rosary Garden, a crime thriller inspired by a notorious true case of infanticide in Ireland in the 1980s.

The competition is a joint venture between the ‘Dundee – One City, Many Discoveries’ campaign and Literary Dundee. It is open to authors from around the world, and nine writers have launched their careers after winning the Prize since its inception in 2000.

The scribes hoping to follow in their footsteps have until 1pm on 4th March to send their entry. All entries will be read before a shortlist is drawn up later in the year. The judging panel will then debate the merits of the finalists before the winner is announced at the Dundee Literary Festival in October.

Bill Campbell, depute convener of Dundee City Council’s city development committee, said, “The Dundee Book Prize has become such a well-established event on the literary calendar that it goes from strength to strength each year attracting an amazing range of aspiring novelists from across the globe.

“As a result of the success of the book prize Dundee has become synonymous with new writing and I am delighted that the starting pistol has been fired on the latest race towards another exciting crop of new novels.”

Anna Day, Director of Literary Dundee, a University of Dundee-led initiative, said “We can’t wait to read the entries for the book prize this year, it’s a really exciting process. The standard is higher each year but the variety is the brilliant bit – reading work from authors from all over the world is a privilege and I can’t wait to see what people send to us.”

In The Rosary Garden was described by the judging panel, which included TV personality Lorraine Kelly, actor Brian Cox and Costa Prize-winning novelist AL Kennedy, as being “courageous and intelligent”, while crime writers Val McDermid and Denise Mina branded it “mesmerising” and “as good as it gets” respectively.

in the rosary garden

Over the years, several finalists have also gone on to gain publishing deals thanks to the profile the Prize offered them, demonstrating the strength of the competition.

“We’re thrilled to see the Dundee International Book Prize continually set the standard for outstanding new writing in the UK and beyond,” said Gill Tasker, Editor-in-Chief at Cargo. “We eagerly anticipate this year’s entries and look forward to discovering the successor to Nicola White’s stunning In The Rosary Garden.”

There is no minimum or maximum length to the manuscript but it must be the author’s debut novel. More information about the Prize, including a full set of rules and details about how to submit an entry can be found at

The closing date is 4th March. Only shortlisted authors will be contacted by the organisers of the prize. The winner will be informed of their success in June and the book will be launched in published form in the autumn as part of the Dundee Literary Festival.

Check out the Dundee International Book Prize Facebook page.

Damaged taxiway in Vieux Fort

Damaged taxiway in Vieux Fort

The three sister islands  of Saint Lucia, Dominica and St Vincent and the Grenadines (located in the Eastern Caribbean) have just emerged from the most harrowing and tragic Christmas ever – one that they could not possibly have anticipated.

All three islands were pummelled by torrential rains and strong winds generated by an unseasonal low-level trough system over a 24-hour period from Christmas Eve to Christmas Day.

In St Vincent eight people were reported dead and four missing as a direct result of the turbulent weather, while six lost their lives in Saint Lucia. One person was reported missing in Dominica.

This storm was like nothing ever seen in this part of the Caribbean, especially considering that the hurricane season officially ended nearly a month ago, on November 30. There was virtually non-stop lightening and crackling thunder, along with incessant heavy rain for well over 24 hours. It forced many to give some serious thought to the implications of climate change and the extreme and increasingly erratic nature of global weather.

Like the other two islands, Saint Lucia has suffered massive infrastructural damage as a result of the freak storm. Several parts of the island were ravaged by landslides and flash floods caused by unseasonal heavy rains and overflowing rivers that burst their banks. There was widespread flooding in Central Castries and the villages of Anse-La-Raye and Canaries along the west coast, as well as in Bexon, Dennery and Micoud on the east coast, and further south in the towns of Vieux Fort and Soufriere.

Hewanorra Airport flooded

Hewanorra Airport flooded

A large section of a major highway along the island’s east coast leading to the southern town of Vieux Fort has been virtually severed. Additionally, an old concrete taxiway that serves as the main access into Vieux Fort has collapsed and several large slabs were literally ripped out of the foundation. This roadway runs right alongside the beach and was built by the American government during World War II.

The Hewanorra International Airport terminal building, also located in Vieux Fort, was badly flooded and debris accumulated on the runway. The airport has since been reopened and normal operations have resumed.

Some seven bridges were either overrun by floodwaters or damaged (including in Anse La Raye, Grand Riviere, Dennery, Riviere Mitan, Marchand (Central Castries), Grand Riviere (Dennery) and Black Bay). Two others were reportedly washed away – one in Canaries on the east coast and the other in the south-eastern village of Piaye. The loss of these two latter bridges coupled with landslides have severely hampered access to Soufriere via Castries and Vieux Fort. Cleanup work is now underway and access is expected to improve gradually.

Severed bridge at Piaye

Severed bridge at Piaye

Parts of Cul-de-Sac near the entrance of the former Hess Oil complex and many homes and businesses in Bexon, just south of the capital Castries,  suffered monumental flooding, creating a nightmare for home and business owners, as well as motorists. Several people had to be evacuated from flood-inundated houses and vehicles. The waters reportedly reached depths of up to five feet.

Several other parts of the island’s main thoroughfares were rendered impassable by raging floodwaters for many hours, including the Bois D’ Orange bypass in Rodney Bay, Gros Islet.

Hundreds of commuters who were scheduled to head south out of Castries were left stranded in the capital on Christmas Eve. Many of them had gone to do their last-minute Christmas shopping. They were forced to overnight at bus shelters, on buses, in business places, churches and community shelters and with friends and families.

The island’s agricultural sector was also hit hard. Many banana and vegetable farms were flattened by the flood waters.

The storm also caused power and telecommunications outages in several parts of the island all through the night of Christmas Eve and for much of Christmas day. Both utility services have now largely been restored. The water supply has also been affected due to damaged water mains and blocked water intakes.

None of the island’s hotels were significantly affected by the storm and they are currently all open for business.

The Saint Lucia Meteorological Services reported that 250 millimetres (9.84 inches) of rain was recorded during the 24 hours ended at 8:50 am on December 25.

The general consensus on the ground and among government officials, is that the infrastructural damage wrought by this storm (much of it in the south and south-west) is in many cases as bad as what was inflicted on the island by Hurricane Tomas in 2010.

Image credit: HTS News 4orce

Image credit: HTS News 4orce

A call for financial and other forms of assistance has gone out to individuals, governments and organizations around the world to, among other things, provide much needed help to families who have suffered major losses from the disaster. 

People living in Britain, who wish to help families in Saint Lucia in the aftermath of the Christmas storm, are welcome to contact Dr Ernest Hilaire High Commissioner of Saint Lucia, 1 Collingham Gardens, Earls Court, London SW5 0HW, England, Tel: 011 (44207) 370 7123 Fax: 011 (44207) 7370 1905 Email:

The Saint Lucia Consulates in the USA and Canada can be contacted at the following:


Consulate General of Saint Lucia in Toronto

60 St. Clair Avenue East, Suite 909
Toronto, Ontario
M4T 1N5

Phone: (416) 203-8400
Fax: (416) 203-8486


Permanent Mission of St. Lucia to the United Nations
800 Second Avenue, 9th Fl., New York, New York 10017
Tel.: (212) 697-9360 • Fax: (212) 697-4993 • E-Mail:

Click here to see more photos of the storm damage taken by Bill Mortley of

UPDATE: Click here for an address by St Lucia Prime Minister, Kenny Anthony on the recovery efforts after the storm, delivered December 30, 2013.




Posted by: caribbeanbookblog | December 9, 2013

Farewell, Madiba

Nelson Mandela visited Saint Lucia in 1998 02

St Lucia and the rest of the Caribbean joins the international community in celebrating the life of one of the world’s most beloved and revered leaders – Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela.

Among the many virtues for which Nelson Mandela will be remembered is the way in which he was able to transcend politics, race and class, and recast himself in the role of a sagacious elder and father figure to all and sundry, even other political leaders and heads of state, including former US presidents Bill Clinton and George Bush.

It is surely no coincidence that Mandela was born into a royal family of the Xhosa-speaking Thembu tribe in the South African village of Mvezo. His clan name, Madiba, which represents his ancestry, is used as a sign of respect and affection. According to the Nelson Mandela Foundation, the origin of the name Madiba comes from a chief who ruled in the 18th century. South Africans of all races often referred to Mandela as “Madiba” or “Tata,” terms of endearment reserved for towering figures who are widely revered.

Mandela’s humility, grace and charisma were evident during his memorable visit to St. Lucia in 1998, four years after he was elected South Africa’s first Black president.  He was invited by the then Chairman of CARICOM and Prime Minister of Grenada, Dr Keith Mitchell, to attend the 19th Meeting of the Conference of Heads of Government of the Caribbean Community in Saint Lucia.

Mandela greets a young fan on visit to St Lucia

Mandela greets a young fan on visit to St Lucia

During the visit, Mandela attended a youth rally hosted in his honour at the Derek Walcott Square. In his typically warm, affectionate style he charmed the youths and embraced them as they came up to greet him. Dispensing with protocol, he laughed and danced with them. He then offered them some inspiring words of wisdom and encouraged them to use education as a tool to become leaders. He urged them not to be discouraged by poverty.

“Poverty does not start today, it has always been there. Don’t allow poverty to prevent you from equipping yourself for the purpose of improving your capacity to serve your country<” he exhorted them.

At the commencement of his speech he made a statement that profoundly touched everyone present and, would undoubtedly remain etched on the minds of many who attended the rally. “St Lucia is one of the most beautiful places I’ve visited. Its beauty is breathtaking. I know that one day I will die for a very, very long time but visiting St Lucia seems to guarantee to me that it will take some time before death prevails over me.” He uttered those words in all seriousness. Fifteen years later they seem to have been quite prescient.

Former Foreign Affairs Minister, the late George Odlum who was present at the rally, spoke for the entire Caribbean community when he said the region was fortunate to have such a presence, adding “it is needed and there is a kind of poetic justice to it. The CARICOM has really been at the forefront of the apartheid struggle.”

Mandela concurred wholeheartedly. In response, he said: “In expressing our appreciation, we acknowledge this contribution not as the solidarity of strangers or the product of some abstract and recent identification with a distant struggle … “We are bound by our common heritage.”


Sitting at the feet of the great Madiba, many have come away with nuggets of wisdom. Among them are the following immortal words.

“What counts in life is not the mere fact that we have lived. It is what difference we have made to the lives of others that will determine the significance of the life we lead.”

Farewell, Madiba.

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