Daily Gleaner, September 24, 1932
THE CUSTOS SPEAKS.
Mr. DaCosta in opening the children's function at 2.30 o'clock said:
Children of the elementary schools In Kingston. I esteem it a great privilege, and honour in having been asked this afternoon to say a few words to you. I do not know really why they should have selected me to do so, except for the fact that it is pretty well known that I am fond of children, and I assure you, as I look down from this stand, I cannot express fully, my feelings at seeing the large concourse of children which have been brought to this exhibition to-day, with the fullest degree of order, and I think great credit is due to the teachers who have assembled these children in such large numbers and brought them here to what I consider will be a red letter day in their lives. I take it that you are familiar with my voice having heard me before address you in connection with Health Week. However, I want to assure the children that I have not got the vein of humour in me, and cannot tell you of any pleasant anecdotes to make you laugh, but I assure you that when you all grow older you will look back on this day, and realize that it has been a privilege to you to have been present to see what has been fully conceded a successful exhibition which has been held on this Kingston Race Course.
Now, I want to take you, or refer, to what was held in grounds very near by long before all of you were born. You see to the north of us where the Wolmer's School now stands--forty years ago there was held in Jamaica an International Exhibition and that was one of the greatest events that has taken place during my life time. It was opened by the present King of England, who at that time was Prince of Wales. He arrived at Kingston in one of his warships, and a splendid procession was held, and he opened the main gate of the International Exhibition of Jamaica.
Now I wish to explain to some of you what an International Exhibition means. This exhibition is not an international exhibition. This exhibition is held for the purpose of showing what is capable of being produced by the people of Jamaica; but an international exhibition is open to all nations who send their exhibits, and by which means are shown the products of every country.
Now personally, I place more importance on this exhibition which has been inaugurated by Mr. Beecher; and I prefer it to an International Exhibition, from the fact that it brings out all that is best in the people of Jamaica, to show what they are capable of.
Now I do not wish you while you are here to stray around aimlessly over the ground. I wish you as much as possible to visit each court, and to see for yourselves what the Jamaica people—boys and girls, men and women--are capable of producing, and later on, when you all grow up to manhood and womanhood, I wish you to be steadfast, and to take the same interest in all that pertains to Jamaica, as has been done by Mr. Beecher and all those connected with this exhibition (hear,hear).
I assure you, children, that this has been a wonderful event. It has advertised itself. I wish you to realise that when it was first started the general public had no confidence in it, as I said at the time of my opening remarks on Monday when the exhibition was opened, but gradually the thing has grown, and people have come to realize that Mr. Beecher and those connected with him were earnest in their efforts, and therefore they have produced an exhibition which would not do injustice to any part of the world (applause).
Now you are going to hear a few words from Mr. Easter, the Director of Education, and I do not want to tire you, but I want you to realise that so long as you live Jamaica must be your first consideration. It is the country of your birth, and it will always stand by you as long as you stand by Jamaica. Jamaica is possible of many things, but for many years it was k«p in the background, and now we are hoping a new era of prosperity will prevail. I charge you all not to take this as an idle day for picnicking, but to visit all the courts, and see what the people of Jamaica are capable of doing. I wish you the best of luck. Follow your teachers' advice, be respectful to your parents, and it is a pleasure, standing as I do on this platform, to look down on this wonderful assemblage and see how truly representative it is (applause).
Mr. Harold Allan called on the gathering of children to sing "Hail to Jamaica the Island of Spring," which they did.
The Jamaica Military Band next gave a selection, after which Mr. Allan called on Mr. Easter to address the children.
DIRECTOR OF EDUCATION,
Mr. Easter said:
My dear children, I am not going to keep you listening for very long, because I am quite sure that you are peppering to go round the exhibition and see for yourselves; aren't you? (Voices: Yes). Right. Well I shan't keep you long, but just say two or three things which may perhaps help you to enjoy what you see better, and perhaps help you to remember it. Now, exhibition is a very long word, and Mr. DaCosta has told you about a big exhibition that was held here well before I was born, and as we are standing here to-day another big exhibition is going on in another part of the world. Away in Denmark the Prince of Wales, the son of the man who opened the exhibition here before, is opening an exhibition there.
Now, what are these exhibitions for? They are to help trade. People go to a great deal of trouble and expanse to arrange all this, and it Is all done to help trade. Now, being school children you all know what trade is. It means exchanging things that you do not want for things which somebody else does not want.
Now, if you could go up in an airplane and look over the world--if you could go across the ocean you would see hundreds and hundreds of ships all going across the sea, and as you went over the land, as your airplane skimmed over the countries and you look down you would see railway tracks with trains on them going, hundreds and hundreds of them, across the continents of the world, and you would see the great trucks going across the highways of the world. All those things are carrying people, yes, but they are carrying goods, and so we have an exhibition where we can make a little miniature of the world as it were, and as you go round this exhibition you will see what Jamaica contributes towards the world, and what other countries contribute and send to us. Now Jamaica gives the world a lot of things. Ships go out from Kingston and from the other ports of the island taking things from Jamaica across the seas to other countries. We send them our bananas, we send them our sugar, we send them our coffee, we send them our spice, and things like that, and they in return send to us the things that we need. The very clothes that you are wearing here now came in ships across the sea. The boots, in most cases that you are wearing were brought here by these same ships, as also a good deal of the food you eat came across the seas. I want you just for a minute to think what a wonderful thing it is that all that is going on all day and all night all over the world. Now what is your share in all this? We want to send ever more and more away from Jamaica so long as we can get a good price for it (hear, hear). Now supposing you have a little patch and you are a lazy man or a lazy woman, and you only grow enough on that patch to feed yourself and your children: there is no money left to buy clothes, no money left to buy books and other things like that, but if you have a patch which will grow enough to keep you and your family, and will also give you a little over that you can sell, then you are a rich man.
If you have a patch with a few bananas In it, and you can sell those bananas, then you have some extra money to buy your clothes and other things, and that is what yon are to aim at. Not only to eke out existence, but produce and produce so that there will be money left over to improve your scale of living, and that can only be by industry and hard work, and so as you go round this exhibition this afternoon you will see what is done by other people—how different products of the earth are collected, and how thongs are made from them. You are going to see and you will realise what is at the base of our life here.
God gives us all these things. and we have got to use them—to be Industrious, to grow things and send them away in exchange for the things that we need, and if we can send away more in value than we need for ourselves, then we have a little over to carry us along on a rainy day. Now when you are through here go round the exhibition in an orderly way, with your teachers, and keep both your eyes and ears open, and try and learn all you can. You ought to learn much more from one afternoon in this exhibition than your teacher, however good, can teach you I should say in a year (laughter and applause).
Mr. Hugh Massie-Blomfleld, H. M. Government Trade Commissioner, addressed the gathering over the loud speaker. He said:
Since I have been here I have endeavoured as far as in me lies, to create a link—an extra link—between you and the Mother Country which you all love so much. The only thought I would like to leave with you, children, this afternoon is the thought of a big family. I should like you children to take away with you, apart from all the other wonderful thoughts that you will take away with you to-day, the thought that you are one of a great Empire family. That your Jamaica is a beautiful daughter of Mother England, and that you share the joy and privileges of being a member with your older sisters--Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, and India, and with your younger sisters and brothers the British West Indies, Ceylon, Mauritius and other parts—that you share with them the privilege of membership of a great family.
From my own point of view I hope that you will always bear that in mind when you go into the various shops and make your small purchases. Think always of buying as far as you can within the family, and think also what you owe to the Mother Country--your security, your peace, your good Government, and your freedom and justice.