St Lucia, a little known Caribbean Island is Rwanda’s new found love and the two independent countries have established diplomatic contact.
On Wednesday, Rwanda’s Valentine Rugwabiza Permanent Representative to the United Nations signed a diplomatic cooperation deal with Cosmos Richardson Saint Lucia’s permanent representative to the United Nations.
Cosmos said after the signing that he was impressed by the contribution of Rwanda to the United Nations peacekeeping mission, saying his country drew inspiration from this and other national milestones.
Understanding Saint Lucia
St Lucia gained its independence on 22nd February 1979 but their road to independence was bumpy. St Lucian people speak a language called Patois.
Throughout the 17th and 18th century St Lucia was regularly contested between France and England, changing possession some 14 times.
In June 1803 Commodore Hood and Lieutenant-General Grinfield of the British forces set out from Barbados to fight the French (once again) so that the British may win back St Lucia.
The British squadron reached Choc Bay and the troops immediately set themselves up at La Vigie and Castries. They called upon the French Commander to lay down arms, and when this request was not met, the fort was attacked.
The French Governor at the time, Brigadier General Jn. Xavier Nogues eventually surrendered and St Lucia was placed in the hands of the British in 1803. France finally ceded St Lucia to Britain in the Treaty of Paris 1814, thus bringing to an end the long and bitter conflicts between France and England for the island of St Lucia.
Although now in the hands of the British, culturally there was still a predominance of French customs and behaviour throughout St Lucia, particularly seen through the names of places on the island and the French based dialect (language) St Lucian people use, called Patois.
As a British Crown Colony, in 1838 St Lucia was annexed to the Government of the British Windward Islands which then comprised of Barbados, Grenada, St Vincent and Tobago. It remained in the Windward Islands group until the post of the Governor of the Windward Islands was abolished in 1959.
The subject of independence for St Lucia started to loom by the 1950’s and in 1958 St Lucia joined other British Colonies in a political organisation called the West Indies Federation, thus attempting to gain semi-autonomous dependency from the UK.
However, for Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago, new developments in their bauxite and oil industries led them to believe they were stable enough to stand alone and so they withdrew from the Federation.
This coupled with petty rivalries eventually led to the Federation being dissolved in May 1962. Whilst this was undoubtedly a setback for St Lucia’s journey to independence, the fact that it had been granted adult suffrage in 1951 and a new constitution in 1960, meant that it was still well on the road to independence.
In February 1966 H.M. Queen Elizabeth II and HRH the Duke of Edinburgh paid a visit to St Lucia. They landed at Soufriere and then went to Castries. As a souvenir of this royal visit the northern wharf at Castries was renamed the Queen Elizabeth II dock.
In the following year, on 1st March 1967 St Lucia became an associated state of the UK, which meant that it had self-governing responsibilities for all internal affairs. External affairs and defence responsibilities remained the responsibility of the British.
This arrangement ended on 22nd February 1979, the date on which St Lucia obtained full independence from the British.
The first Governor General of independent St Lucia became Sir Allen Lewis, and the Hon. John George Melvin Compton became the first Prime Minister of St. Lucia. Today, St Lucia proactively works with its Caribbean neighbours through the Caribbean community and common market (CARICOM) the East Caribbean Common Market (ECCM) and the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS).