REVISITING 29th MAY 1979 – From the upcoming book ‘Theft of a Legacy’ by O.J. Seraphin

A huge crowd gathered outside government headquarters on May 29, 1979

The events of 1978 and 1979 in Dominica were memorable watershed moments. It was the womb of the birth of a permanent legacy which has been stolen by the sages and pundits who may wish to cast out these signal epoch moments as trifle, despite the profound nature and circumstance of a new nation. However, the Dominica Sun Newspaper, in an earlier editorial, made the impactful statement (with which I totally agree) that among the greatest moments of Dominica’s history which must be permanent on our consciousness as a nation are:

– Independence 3rd November 1978
– May 29th 1979
– Hurricane David 29th August 1979

I am blessed and graced to have been involved in these monumental moments of the nation and was in the room as a Leader of the nation. Indeed I dare say that I am the last survivor of the cabinet of 1978 and last of the Leaders of the Labour Party with the exception of the current Leader Roosevelt Skerrit.

However, it is obvious that the perception that it would have been desirous by some pundits of sweeping the events of 29th May 1979 under the carpet, would be a denial of the very basis upon which I emerged as the PM of Dominica. I continue to believe however, that the stone erected by the Freedom Party Government on the grounds of the Government Headquarters is sinister.

We should not as a nation maintain a monument of the stoning of a government out of office as a status of honour. Indeed few persons are conscious of its existence. The UWP Government in their judgement chose to remove the mural of the shooting of the demonstrator Timothy on the wall of the Treasury building.

I am unable to discern, the rationale of the sages and historians who having been out of the “room” have chosen to create their own version of truth and reconstruct history giving strange hero worship to those who in my experience of having been in the room, fall so short of factual reality, that I am taking this opportunity to challenge the travesty
of truth.

At radio interviews convened by the Manager of a local Radio on the matter of the constitutional solution following the coup, overthrow, or revolution against the government of Patrick John of 29th May 1979, he was curious and sought to seek the cover of cobwebs to combat the legitimacy of the truth which underpinned the principles of reconstructing our constitution following the fall of the Patrick John government..

The radio interview with me on that program was explicit in its intent to seek possible irregularities in the installation of OJ Seraphin as the 2nd Prime Minister as lacking due process. However, the later Interview with eminent past members of the CNS which represented the Dominica Trade Union leader Bernard Nicholas and Waterfront and Allied workers Union Kertist Augustus as well as the Clerk of the House of Assembly then Jennifer White. with input from Felix Thomas a former Senator and Parliamentary Secretary, particularly reiterated and confirmed the position of the original statements I made at an earlier radio interview

The most striking revelation as contributed by Jennifer White was the consistent view by all sections of our community leaders who became members of the CNS that we had been through an unprecedented experience, following the atrocities of that period, which required extraordinary parliamentary action to redeem the constitutional process
of government.

What, however, has been seemingly lost in the reconstruction of events by disinformation of news, was the initiation of the Democratic Labour Party. This was occasioned by me and in alliance with Eustace Francis the representative of Roseau South then and an eminent attorney who assisted in the draft of the resolution for the formation of the
Democratic Labour Party commonly called Dem Lab. This was signed by 7 members of the former PJ-Dominica Labour party, whose purpose it was to announce their support for a coalition government headed by me and to give parliamentary majority support for the formation of such a government, with the independents as well as other elected
members of the Freedom Party.

This, therefore, was instrumental in giving the necessary constitutional mandate for my leadership as Prime Minister in the House of Assembly who received the mandate by a majority of elected members as defined by the constitution. This gave the authority to install a new Prime Minister as the CNS Committee for National Salvation was unable to act as a constitutional body ! My singular effort at redeeming the constitution through effecting an alternative Labour Party in parliament has been amnesia to the historians. The casual dismissal by the public to a solution to our constitutional crises cries out for an explanation. The alternative of which was the possibility of an all out civil war through the involvement of the Army and supporters of John in retaliation to the damage done.

Parallel to that, we should not fail to contemplate the role of the leftist movement towards the revolutionary route of Grenada taken with Maurice Bishop and which had the country on alert . The fact of the weaponry of the left having arrived in Dominica was chronicled in a book by a St.Lucian writer, Rick Wayne, a former bodybuilder – who became Mr. Universe. So too, was information revealed to me which I received years later from Dr. Hilroy Thomas who claims that the guns are still buried in the hills, rotting away no doubt.

This feat of changing the course of our country which fell under mob rule resulted in a coup and an overthrow of a government. It seems similar but more successful than the 6th of January 2021 Trump motivated US anarchy which was a mere “palace coup” attempt. That this came from within the Patrick John government is misinformation Indeed. The country did face mayhem by outside forces through the machinations of trade union operatives inciting a mob with support of the opposition party, one of whom later emerged as President of the country!

The temerity of historians to conclude that the economic situation was that which propelled the coup is blindsiding the reality that PM John had just a few weeks before on November 3d of 1978, been hailed as a hero .The unbridled adventurous approaches to governance in the months following Independence by Leo Austin gave facilitations to
exploitation by opposition forces. The fact that this was stage-managed by Charles Savarin and Eugenia Charles leaders of the CNS is irrefutable and was a follow up of a similar effort on 16th December 1971 by the same forces which was persuasive in the early retirement of former Premier EO.Leblanc and seem to have escaped the pundits. Indeed, there was truth that the economic plans which were largely concocted by the AG and Foreign Minister Leo Austin fell into questionable domains. The South African connection with their Minister Coetzee and Leo Austin at the height of Apartheid and which the world nations at the UN had backlisted, was hugely chronicled in the BBC drama
series ‘Panorama’ whose contents require a book of its own. These were the areas of concern expressed by me in cabinet and of which I did take the lead thereon to challenge the authority and indeed the presence of the hierarchy of the civil servants to direct our affairs which could and did bring attrition.

The contribution of Trade Unionist Bernard Nicholas in the DBS Radio interview on the 29th May experience, was explicit that he and others had approached me as a person of capacity to facilitate the transition from the morass of destruction of our democracy. He did respond to the viewpoint offered by the radio personality in both interviews who in his own opinion and calculation thought to be more of his liking .The trade unionist Nicholas, a member of the CNS, confirmed that Mike Douglas had been earlier dismissed as a member of the Labour Party and was never considered by the CNS. He again responded to the query on attorney Eustace Francis who was not considered by the CNS. Nor was
Eugenia Charles able to garner support from the Labour party elected parliamentarians needed to get a majority of elected members in the House of Assembly to create a constitutionally elected Prime minister. The opposition then had only 6 members including independents.

The CNS inspired recommendation of my being PM was clarified as having been introduced to the people in the position for the office of the Prime Minister at the Parish Hall Pottersville mass meeting. The Clerk of the House Jennifer White, expressed in a radio interview as an apolitical civil service pragmatic understanding of the proceedings,
declared that the decisions taken were based on response to the urgency for resolving a crisis which brought the nation to the need for action which by Its nature may have been unusual. Indeed, the creation of the CNS was called for by the need for action by the sages and prominent personalities of the nation acting as leaders of the 26 various existing organisations and disciplines. The massive vote of confidence by 26 organisations led by the most prominent citizens of the land of DOMINICA representing all organisations of the nation of who, three later, became Prime Minister, another emerging as President and others as Ministers of Government and leaders of the socio-economic community, was a huge vote of confidence unprecedented in the history of the region. The decision was made by that body in all absence of my direct involvement, and confirmed that I could lead our nation out of the anarchy and even against the tidal wave of violent political polarisation, that I could steer the country as Prime Minister into normalcy and reassert the power of our constitution. Having succeeded in so doing, due and deserved respect has never been given.

N.B: Oliver Seraphin was a minister in the Dominica Labour Party government of 1979 led by Patrick John. Seraphin resigned before that administration was removed from office in May of that year. He was then selected as the prime minister of an the interim government which followed. 

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16 Comments

  1. Lin clown
    June 1, 2022

    First of all Jonathan,the name is not Julius Timothy,it is PHILIP TIMOTHY.One question to you Mr.Know-all Jonathan,why did UWP remove the painting and the L1A1 7.62 cal.bullet from the treasury building?.You are now 70 years old,you would know May 29 1979 was not a Charles Savarin thing.It was a Dominica thing.The PEOPLE supported the removal of the Patrick John lead government from office.The reason why UWP continue to stay in the yard is because of false information and lies from people like you.You and your party,should learn if you still can,that the PEOPLE does not support UWP.Why do you think UWP lost 1,163 votes in the 2019 election?The PEOPLE has never supported UWP since they were formed in 1988 .Why.It is because after they won in 1995,with 34.86%of the votes,they made corruption,victimization,greed and lies the order of their reign..Something the PEOPLE has not seen since.So Jonathan go tell your BS to those who do not know about Dominica.Prodigal son you are,it is a shame.

    • If we knew better
      June 1, 2022

      That was the DLP who removed the painting from the treasury building. I explicitly remember that.

    • Jonathan Y St Jean
      June 1, 2022

      @Lin clown, you sound like an apologist for Adolph Hitler because you seem to suggest it wasn’t him but the German people who were responsible for the atrocities committed under his leadership. Charles Saverin was the leader and vocal architect of the events of August 1979. Just like Pontius Pilate didn’t physically kill Jesus Christ he is responsible for allowing the savior to endure the flesh being torn off his body with blood gushing and a crown of thorns causing more torture and blood loss. I’m sure you recall the saying”the port will not work, the police will not work etc” and the person who said those words, It was not the Dominican people. I rest my case. The person who uttered those words and led the period of our history is now silent whilst police officers brutalized Salisbury and corruption are rampant in the country. I won’t be silent whilst the country of my birth screams in agony like Jesus Christ. Judas got paid to contribute to his agony.

      • June 2, 2022

        Johnathan, do you know the reason behind May 29 th uprising? It was about stopping Patrick and his gang from passing legislation that would restrict freedom of the press. Ask Julius Samson he was editor of the chronicle at the time. I think you are of the age to know that simply fact.

    • Jonathan St Jean
      June 1, 2022

      @Lin clown, forget about the typographic errors in my submissions. The facts are there and you know them. It was May 1979 and not August. It was Phillip Timothy and the Dominican people know exactly who I’m referring to. Don’t get things twisted with your circus clown act.

    • Jonathan Y St Jean
      June 2, 2022

      @Lin clown, you have not gotten the gist of the biblical story of the prodigal son. Yes, he wasted resources however those can be replaced. The main point is his coming back home and the joy it brought to his father. The father didn’t consider it a shame that his son was returning home after he left, but was so overjoyed at the reunification. It’s the current cabal that wastes the resource of the third world country which is mired in poverty compared to its neighbors and which has cultivated a mendicant culture for the supporters of Labor. Like the prodigal son, I shall be returning and I’m not looking to the red clinic or Labor party for handouts. I did not leave with my share of the inheritance. I continue to contribute to GDP, I pay my bills and taxes. The shame is on you for not understanding the Bible story is about love and not shame. I’ve nothing to be ashamed about except the sad state of democracy in my country and your participation in the morass.

  2. Tt
    May 31, 2022

    That documentary had over 1 million views. I think I believe the man’s own words and my own eyes more than anything else. And the fact that he knowingly admits the unethical and unconstitutionality of what they were doing. “No! Not 400, but 450, 50 for me the rest for them!” Disgusting

  3. Lin clown
    May 31, 2022

    JAH KAL,go do some reading,and stop behaving like a JAHASS.The farmers union supported the 47 day strike.They,the farmers supplied the people on strike with fruits,vegetables meat and fish.They unions who supported the strike was WAWU,DAWU CSA and FARMERS UNION.The strike was not a Savarin strike.It was a PEOPLES strike.In those days the people told the union what they wanted done,the people was the union and the union the people.Today the union headed by Letang is telling the people what to do,instead of the people telling Letang what they want him to do.OJ was the first to resign from the PJ led government,Vic Rivierre and Patrick John died and never resigned,had the other ministers done the same,we would have had a different outcome.OJ was promised intering Prime Minister ,so he betrayed the DLP to form the Democratic Labour Party..So JAH KAL the strike was a DOMINICA TING.Stop behaving like an uneducated supporter of UWP.Letang cannot succeed in organizing a DOMINICA TING

  4. jaded
    May 31, 2022

    I find it interesting that Seraphin never mentioned that he had resigned as a minister in the Patrick John regime. I suspect that the reason he left that out is because it would provide justification for and support of the actions of the Opposition and the trade unions. Also, it is my understanding that the reason he was picked as interim PM is largely because he had resigned as Minister. His resignation gave him a patina of integrity and the CNS figured that he was the best non-partisan person to take the lead.
    But many people thought that he was a joke as PM. I remember him saying that “Roseau will be flattened”, when he was laying out his policy to raze the old, eye sore houses in Pound, and to replace them with newer homes. But most Dominicans thought that he was biting out more than he could chew.

  5. Jonathan Y St Jean
    May 31, 2022

    I’m just wondering what the current President of Dominica who lead the strangulation of the economy in 1979 to force the regime change which ensued, is saying now when things are just as bad or even worse as with corruption. Mr. Frank Baron tried his best in 2009 to point a finger at the level of corruption and the nepotism in the country but alas his exhortation fell on deaf ears. Not even the current President considered that what he stood for in that 1979 event was being trampled by the regime he’s now a part of. Dame Eugenia Charles would faint if she could come back and see what the architect Tony A**taphan and his puppy on a leash, “Dr.Dr” and their enablers have done to Dominica. Julius Timothy must be turning in his grave to look down and see what resulted from his intimate sacrifice. O. J has always been nothing but got air blowing in the wind wherever it takes him, he was blessed to be the one chosen then to lead the recovery then but himself is still hot air.

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  6. JAH KAL
    May 30, 2022

    Charles Savarin 43 years ago 47 days strike you have to pay for that , the people that got affected their prayers are being heard there is a saying that goes that way, thee evil that man do live after them, trust me its right in your face savarin . Bananas were green gold at the time the farmers suffer you and Zaboca shut down the main port of entry to the country, just a matter of time. Savarin your turn is coming very very soon. Zaboca died like a dog yours will be worse you still there living on the backs of the children of the same farmers you made suffer for 47 days. Savarin kamar is a capital B. Tanto Tanto .

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  7. Randolph Joseph
    May 30, 2022

    I like the pic better than the piece.

    • Ras
      May 31, 2022

      Ikr???

      Some off the buildings are still there.

  8. Tt
    May 29, 2022

    Book from the guy asking for hid $50k for the diplomatic passport. Ummm no thanks.

  9. RastarMarn
    May 29, 2022

    This is the same dude who the world saw recently was negotiating with foreign individuals in attempts to facilitate sale of Dominican Citizenship for his self-enrichment???

    Can you please do an article on the reason(s) you were involve in such a scheme, as it was recorded on Visual media???

    Respect due where respect is earned!!!

    Thank you for your efforts and duty to country!!!

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