Eight people were honoured, last weekend, during the annual Vigo Blake Day commemoration, which was hosted by the Bethesda and Christian Hill communities.
The organizing committee says it was a distinct pleasure to heap honour on the sons and daughters of the soil each year; and, therefore, these eight were recognized for their contributions on Sunday, May 28, ahead of “Baba” Vigo Blake Day, May 29.
They were Edrys Benjamin-Joseph for over 40 years’ service to education; Georgina Lucine Millette for journalism, agriculture and the community; Ruthlyn Moore, for daycare and early-childhood services for more than 40 years; Rev. Dr. Lester Emanuel for his contribution to the church for over 50 years; and Howard “Swingy” Warner for his outstanding efforts in the disciplines of cricket and fishing.
The other honorees included Waldemar Browne, CM, for sterling contributions to agriculture, the steel-band fraternity, and in business, where his motto proclaimed him “No. 1 in the No. 2 Business.”
David Lauriston “Euston” Sowerby was recognized for contributing to education, philanthropy, and the community, while Devon Glentis Goodwin was awarded for 43 years of outstanding and award-winning contributions to agriculture and the community.
Delivering the keynote address at this year’s event was former Ambassador Bruce Haile Goodwin, who gave a sobering reflection on the significance and enormity of Baba Vigo’s contribution.
Vigo Blake was an enslaved man, believed to be of Coromantee origin, and was chattel property of the neighboring Blake’s Plantation.
He is credited with having led his fellow slaves in a venture to build a school for their children in 1813 – 21 years before slavery was abolished in Antigua and Barbuda.
The school was constructed in six weeks – in the slaves’ “free time” –on the site where the Methodist Church now stands in Bethesda. The school opened its doors on May 28, 1813, educating children and adults alike – the first such institution in the English-speaking New World.