St. Maarten Chamber of Commerce recognition linked to “the need for a people to have a voice

GREAT BAY, St. Martin (June 12, 2023)—The recognition of HNP authors here on June 2, by the St. Maarten Chamber of Commerce & Industry (COCI) has much to do with media value and a nation’s voice, said Jacqueline Sample, president of House of Nehesi Publishers (HNP).

Joseph H. Lake, Jr. and Lasana M. Sekou were recognize for realizing “The First Local Business Registrant at COCI” in the “Newspaper” and “Book Publishing” categories, respectively, said the St. Maarten Chamber.

“The recognition of Junior Lake and Lasana Sekou by the Chamber of Commerce adds value to the power of the press and publishing, and to the need for a people to have a voice. I thank the Chamber wholeheartedly and appreciate so much the organic link to HNP as publisher of books by Lake and Sekou,” said Sample.

Lake founded Windward Islands Newsday – The People’s Paper in 1976. Sekou founded House of Nehesi Publishers in 1980. Both St. Martiners are part of a media tradition started by their father José H. Lake, Sr. with the founding of his Windward Islands Opinion newspaper and People’s Printery in 1959, said Sample.

After his father’s death in 1976, Lake, Jr.’s “Newsday would face much of the same economic boycott as the Opinion for its reporting on government corruption and business exploitation of workers,” said cultural activist Shujah Reiph in a 2009 article. At times, especially from the late 1970s to late-1980s, Newsday was the only outspoken public “voice” on political, labor, immigration, and socio-cultural issues island wide, said Sample.

In the book publishing category, “HNP has published at least 80 St. Martin writers, either with their own books or in anthologies and an unprecedented 150-odd books on different aspects of the island and its people,” said Sample.

The June 2, 2023 recognition by COCI highlighted “local business pioneers in the communication category – Radio, Television, Cinema, Newspaper and Book Publishing,” said the Chamber.

The Chamber recognition plaques in the areas of television and radio were presented, respectively, to Elwaldo Arrindell and posthumously to Vance James, Jr. Last March, the St. Maarten Chamber of Commerce & Industry recognized Joseph N. Gumbs for being “the first local registrant at COCI in the category of Grocery Shop since 1972,” said the Chamber.

Chamber president Peggy Ann Brandon said, “The Chamber has been established to fulfill a core mandate of registering businesses” and must also “embrace its corporate responsibility, by stimulating entrepreneurship and business through different methods.”

Those methods include providing “vital information to build business capacity but also consistently entice local entrepreneurship. COCI acknowledging official registrations of businesses at COCI, is just one of the many ways through which COCI will stimulate local entrepreneurship,” said Brandon.

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