Rotary Sunrise celebrates Literacy Month with young author Ralph Cantave


PHILIPSBURG – Rotary Club of St. Martin Sunrise promotes literacy and basic education as one of its primary areas of focus.

Continuing with this theme on the occasion of World Literacy Day and the entire month of September, the Club in a partnership with UNESCO and the Philipsburg Jubilee Library conducted a number of activities.

One of those initiatives was an invitation of young author, community activist and USM student Ralph Cantave to celebrate his new book Words of Change with the Rotarians. Cantave shared some highlights from the book as well as the inspiration behind the writing of the book.

Cantave is an active young man in the community who is in love with history, culture and the written word. He describes himself as a history enthusiast, which led to his friends nicknaming him “Professor” in high school. He is a youth advocate and can often be heard raising issues of empowerment, self-reliance, knowledge and revolution.

His first published book Words of Change: Voices from Soualigan Soil has been selling well since its launch in July. The book is intended to be used in schools to enrich the curriculum with St. Maarten history and culture lessons. This book has been added to “our list of readings for the Readers Are Readers and will help to create greater literacy on local culture and politics. The young author enjoys going around to schools to raise awareness and create knowledge,” a release said.

Based on his new book Cantave’s talk at “our club took us through history of the island, the political landscape, self-determination, culture and heritage. One of the most important aspects of the book is his attribute to the people of St. Martin, to whom he describes as self-reliant, hardworking and united! He writes that this emanates from the resilience of the elders as they transformed the soil into a village, and made a living by towing the land, trade and setting up small businesses. There was no room for the current divide and conquer strategies because the people belonged as one, they helped each other and were united,” the release continued.

Rotary President Okama Ekpe Brook recalled Cantave talking about how appalled he was during one summer break when he watched a movie Limited Known Facts About African History. That rude awakening immediately convinced him to study history. That has propelled and continue to motivate his future direction.

She hopes that this book will resonate positively amongst the young and old and particularly encourage the youth to find ways to improve their literacy levels through reading and writing. “A knowledgeable society is a wealthy nation and that which contributes to a peaceful world. More authors are needed to document and tell the stories from the soil by the people and for the people,” she continued.

“That is the way the cultural heritage can be passed onto the new generation, help bridge the intergenerational gap and improve the wellbeing of the people,” she said.

She announced that a copy of the book will be donated to the Philipsburg Jubilee Library and for use by the Readers Are Leaders program of Rotary Sunrise. She thanked Cantave and invited him to participate in future Rotary Sunrise literacy and youth leadership activities.

The Rotary Club of St. Martin Sunrise meets every Tuesday at the Ginger Bread Café Restaurant, Belair Beach Hotel from 7:00am to 8:00am.  For more information or email They are also on Facebook: Rotary Club of St. Martin Sunrise.