Labouring in the Vineyard
Sir Shridath Ramphal’s Eric Williams Lecture in Port-of-Spain, Trinidad, on May 26, 2012.
I hope the advent of electronic ‘readers’ does not mean that there will no longer be books for authors to inscribe to their friends on publication. Some of my most treasured books are of that kind; among them, none more treasured than the copy of From Columbus to Castro: The History of the Caribbean 1492 – 1969, inscribed as follows:
My dear Sonny
We are both labourers in the vineyard.
It is in this spirit that I send you this book
That was 1970. “Bill”, of course, was Prime Minister Eric Williams. The vineyard was economic integration. West Indians were nurturing Caribbean unity from the CARIFTA seedling to the sapling of Caribbean Community. The blossoms of CARICOM and the Treaty of Chaguaramas had actually sprouted. In this Lecture, I want to follow that inscription through the decades that have passed, asking what has come of our labours – what is the state of the vineyard?
The Eric Williams Memorial Lecture has a distinguished vintage; I am honoured and humbled to have been invited to join the list of those who have given it over the years. I thank the organisers and all those responsible for the invitation, and the Governor of the Central Bank, in particular, Mr Ewart Williams. And I am twice honoured, in giving the Lecture in this special year of the 50th Anniversary of Trinidad and Tobago’s Independence.
With Jamaica, you mark this year the first 50 years of West Indian freedom in its larger sense; and you have much of which to be proud.
Today, May 26th, also marks 46 years of the independence of Guyana whose initial Constitution I had a hand in drafting as its Attorney-General. But there are ironies which I must share with you – and questions which I hope you will allow me to ask.
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