Newly-appointed St. Vincent and Grenadines Consul General to the United States Rondy “Luta” McIntosh says he wants to have “open and frank” discussions with his compatriots in the US Diaspora.
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McIntosh, who assumed office on Aug. 1, replacing Howie Prince, told a reception in his honor Saturday night, at the Friends of Crown Heights Educational Center in Brooklyn, that the reports he had received about Vincentians in the Diaspora was “painful.”
“One of the most frightening thing (s) for me coming to the USA as Consul General is how so many people will warn you about your own people,” McIntosh, also a popular soca artiste and cultural ambassador, told the reception, which also served as a farewell to Prince. “That is not good.”
The reception was organized jointly by the Friends of Crown Heights Educational Center, headed by Vaughan Toney, chief executive officer and president of the centers; the Brooklyn-based Council of St. Vincent and the Grenadines Organizations, USA, Inc. (COSAGO), the umbrella Vincentian group in the US; and the St. Vincent and the Grenadines Diaspora Committee of New York, also a Brooklyn-based group.
“We are one people and one common homeland, and we should be looking out for each other more,” added McIntosh, a former sales manager at the state-owned National Broadcasting Corporation (NBC).
though he came from “a very poor and humble family” and was “not able to go to university,” McIntosh said he was “destined for being consul general.”
“I always say to myself, ‘I will not live outside of St. Vincent and the Grenadines if I have to,’” he said. “I accepted this job, because it’s an extension of my home in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
“I want to socialize with my people,” he added. “I want to go out from the Consulate General and meet my people. I want to be who I am with a little control. I want to walk with you.
“I am destined for greatness,” McIntosh continued. “I am here to work with you. Call on me. I’m out-going.”
He revealed that, in a prior discussion with Prince, his immediate predecessor told him that “the hardest part of the job is the people.”
In a video circulated in the Diaspora, a few days before Saturday’s reception, McIntosh thanked Prime Minister Dr. Ralph E. Gonsalves and the Government and people of St. Vincent and the Grenadines for “affording me the opportunity to represent Vincentians” in the US Diaspora.
He said he was “very privileged” to have Prime Minister Gonsalves visit the Consulate General on a stop-over in New York before heading to Taiwan. Gonsalves headed a seven-member delegation, according to a statement from the Consulate General on Tuesday.
“We had a very long and fruitful chat about plans for the Consulate and for the people living in the Diaspora,” said McIntosh in the video, with the prime minister interjecting occasionally.
He said the transition period has been “a bit challenging” in which he is “seeking to find housing and just to settle my family, because it is not an easy task when you have all your earthly possessions in one place and then has to uproot to live in another country.
“It has been a challenge, but we’re getting through it,” McIntosh assured. “And I can assure you that my family is here to support me and to work along with me to serve the people of St. Vincent and the Grenadines.”
He said he will work with all Vincentian throughout the United States, “to make things easier, without favor, without political coloration.”
The Consulate General said in a statement that Gonsalves, during his brief visit to New York, reiterated his full confidence in appointing McIntosh.
“I have absolutely no doubt that McIntosh would do an excellent job,” the Consulate General quoted the Vincentian leader as stressing.
Gonsalves, who had called in from Taiwan, during Saturday night’s reception, thanked Prince and his family, and urged Vincentians in New York to “rally around Luta and his family.
“Love you, Howie, love you Luta and all Vincentians in New York,” he said.
In a message read by Sherill-Ann Mason-Haywood, chairperson of the St. Vincent and the Grenadines Diaspora Committee of New York, Lou-Anne Gilchrist, St. Vincent and the Grenadines Ambassador to the US, bid farewell to Prince and welcomed McIntosh.
“On behalf of the government and people, and in my personal capacity, I thank Mr. Prince for his years of service and dedication to our beloved country,” said Gilchrist, regretting that she he could not join the reception in-person.
The ambassador has general oversight for the operation and functioning of the Consulate General.
“CG Prince, may the grace and favor of God accompany you and your family always,” said Gilchrist, adding that she was also “pleased to welcome Mr. Rondy McIntosh to the Consulate General in New York and to wish him a successful tenure in the post.
“CG McIntosh brings with him decades of experience in the cultural arena and the corresponding interpersonal and communication skills,” the envoy said. “He also brings years of experience in marketing to the post.
“Taken together, the experience and skills position him well to interact with and serve Vincentians in the Diaspora, while continuing to strengthen the bonds with those at home,” Gilchrist continued.
Toney told the reception that it was with “great pride and tremendous enthusiasm that we welcome to this office our new Consul General, the Hon. Rondy ‘Luta’ McIntosh.
“And it is with much sadness and enormous gratitude that we bid farewell to the Hon. Howie Prince, who for the past five years and 10 months has executed the duties of this office with distinction, integrity and unparalleled devotion to the best interests and highest ideals of our Vincentian community,” he said.
“For me, this is one of those genuinely bittersweet moments in life,” Toney added, stating that, “one the one hand, I am saddened by the departure of Consul General Prince, with whom I have had the opportunity to forge a sincere, gratifying and mutually respectful friendship over the course of his tenure.”
But, on the other hand, Toney said he was “happy to welcome my fellow native of Calliaqua (a town in St. Vincent and the Grenadines), the Hon. Rondy ‘Luta’ McIntosh”, describing McIntosh, among other things, as “a man of exceptional humility who remembers his roots and takes pride in the hard work that has propelled him to public prominence.”
Among others, Prince, whose tenure ended on Jul. 31, wished the new consul general well, and thanked Almighty God; Toney; the Government of St. Vincent and the Grenadines; his colleagues in the diplomatic corps; the staff at the Consulate General; Vincentian organizations in the Diaspora, especially COSAGO; and his family and extended family.
In terse remarks, he said one of the hardest jobs is working with the organizations since Vincentians in New York are very opinionated.
Prince, 60, said he came to the New York Consulate General with his “good name” and left with his “good name,” adding that he was “looking forward to my retirement.”
He ended by quoting Numbers 6:24-26, New King James Version: “The Lord bless you and keep you; The Lord make His face shine upon you and be gracious upon you; The Lord lift up His countenance upon you, and give you peace.”
Laverne McDowald-Thompson, COSAGO president, a member of the reception committee, presented Prince, who served as Consul General to the US from 2016-2022, with a Certificate of Appreciation “in recognition of your service to the nation of St. Vincent and the Grenadines and its Diaspora in the USA.”