Tears for loyal son
Gwendolyn Johnson cried openly yesterday as the funeral procession of the late Prime Minister David John Howard Thompson made its way down President Kennedy Drive.
Standing in a gallery in a house on the main road, Johnson’s knees began to buckle before family friend Mantuse Gollop rushed to support her – as Thompson’s casket passed, draped in the Barbados Flag.
The staunch Democratic Labour Party supporter told the DAILY NATION that Thompson was not only her “Prime Minister, but her everything”.
“Oh God, David gone! David gone!” she wailed, with a tissue to her face.
The 81-year-old, who lives in Westbury New Road, said she knew Thompson personally and “loved him like a son”.
But she was just one of thousands of Barbadians who lined the route from Baxters Road to Kensington Oval to pay their last respects to the late Prime Minister.
Long before 8 a.m., dark clothing and umbrellas were everywhere on the route, as Barbadians huddled in sombre mood, braving the early morning showers that blessed the entourage on its way to the Oval.
Pupils of Wesley Hall Primary School lined the route with pictures of Thompson held high in their hands, while others sat on the walls or stood from some other vantage point to be a part of the memorable occasion.
Almost every hand held a digital camera as patriotic citizens tried their very best to snap a picture of the man they had grown to know and love, one who was said to be “a loving man, a caring man, a man of the people”.
One group who made their way from Hopewell, St Thomas, on the bus stood proudly watching as the procession passed by.
However, their hopes of watching the funeral were dashed when they learnt that there would be no projection screens on the outside of the Oval for viewing.
“I thought we would have been able to watch from here. I tried to get a ticket, but all were gone,” the woman lamented.
As the procession halted in the rain at the entrance to Kensington Oval, Prime Minister Freundel Stuart and other members of his Cabinet stood in the rain with sombre faces.
Not long after, as the procession made its way through the Oval, screams could be heard coming down President Kennedy Drive.
Barbadians went crazy as singing sensation Rihanna strolled briskly down the road accompanied by her two bodyguards.
Screams of “Go, RiRi” and loud applause could be heard as the star, dressed in all black and broad-rimmed hat, hustled past.