KINGSTOWN, St. Vincent, April 29, IWN – Political activist and social commentator Jomo Thomas on Sunday announced that he is committing to pushing the name of Samuel “Sheriff Salasie” Lewis, the leader of the 1935 uprising, for consideration as a national hero of SVG.
Thomas’s announcement, during his weekly television commentary, came three days after he resigned for the National Heroes Committee in protest against Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves’ lobbying for former prime minister Robert Milton Cato to be made a national hero.
“By this inappropriate intervention, he has wilfully short-circuited the work of the National Heroes Committee which was charged with the responsibility to solicit, scrutinize, sift and then submit for Cabinet’s approval names of Vincentians suitable to join Paramount Chief Joseph Chatoyer in the national pantheon of heroes,” Thomas said.
“PM Gonsalves has attempted to closed the door shut on who our next heroes should be. Gonsalves even offered a short list that failed to include Samuel “Sheriff Salasie” Lewis, the leader and hero of the 1935 uprisings in SVG,” Thomas further stated.
Thomas, in his commentary and his resignation letter to Rene Baptiste, chair of the selection committee, said Gonsalves presentation on April 18 has made the work of the national heroes committee “superfluous”.
He said he wanted to challenge many of the point Gonsalves made for Cato as a national hero but decided against it because of his then position on the committee.
“I have weighed this issue over in my head, I have ran it by friends and important colleagues and could find no useful purpose, except as a convenient rubber stamp for retaining membership on the National Heroes Committee,” Thomas said.
“Now that I have removed the muzzle of national service, I commit to pushing the name of Samuel ‘Sheriff Salasie’ Lewis, the leader of the 1935 uprising for consideration as a national hero of SVG,” he further stated.
A riot broke out in Kingstown on Oct. 1, 1935 and spread to a few other areas of the country.
Citizens were revolting against an increase of import duty on basic necessities by the Legislative Council coupled with the low and improvised standard of living in the period of depression that followed World War I.