IN THE CANDID CORNER: The David in all of us
All he [David] wanted was a little more time . . . .
The illness, death and subsequent burial of our sixth Prime Minister David John Howard Thompson sapped me like no other loss has ever done. Outside of my mother’s death, I have never felt any other loss so deeply. I think I speak for many, most, if not all Barbadians.
The tears that flowed across the national landscape especially since his passing, but specifically at Kensington Oval, were precipitated by a life of focus, discipline, hardwork, organisation, dedication to duty, love of family and commitment to others and country.
His vision for Barbados, which was just beginning to unfold, will see him go down in history as the youngest and greatest national leader this country has ever seen.
The organisers must be highly commended for the exquisite precision with which they planned and executed the ceremony. The standard reached was befitting of a statesman of David Thompson’s calibre.
Even nature seemed to subdue its own prominence and grandeur, to give over, ever so briefly to the celebration of the life and contribution of one of the nation’s finest sons.
With the exception of the deluge that doused one or two of the dignitaries sitting close to the podium, the rest of us were sprinkled by sympathetic sprys and then dabbed as it were by a sun whose rays did not reach or exceed their usual morning intensity.
Not even the arrival of singing sensation Rihanna seemed to matter more than the proceedings directly related to the agenda as set out. For approximately two hours David Thompson’s final farewell united Barbados, the region and perhaps the wider world in a manner that he only dreamt of in his lifetime.
The harmony achieved against the background of nature and technology was stunning. Except for the punctuation by the aisles of black carpet, the lush verdant grounds seemed to cushion the excruciating pain felt by the approximately 12 000 loyal sons and daughters who came with one common purpose, that being to bid a fond farewell.
The setting provided the ideal ambiance for the musical and other words of tribute and adulation that were delivered and spoken. Brian Clarke’s description of our Late Prime Minister was accurate.
He confirmed the warmth, generosity, compassion, confidence and optimism all of which were the hallmark of the man we knew so well. Hearing of him not being spiteful, not being egotistical and his willingness to admit being wrong was no special revelation for us as citizens of the country he headed since 2008.
His commitment to family, in spite of his very busy schedule was stunning and worthy of emulation and confirmed his “families first” philosophy for which he will be forever remembered.
The tears, which climaxed Brian’s tribute, were those shed for all within the hearing of his voice.
They were tears that sprang from the hurting heart of the nation.
Mr Thompson’s longtime friend and political adviser Hartley Henry in his final adulation of his “Chief” won more friends in fifteen minutes at the podium that he might have all his life in that capacity.
Even those who have been critical of his political strategies over the years would have to conclude that with Mara’s approval Hartley Henry won the hearts of all who were hurting and like him tried helplessly to hold back tears that were more than deserving of being shed.
We cannot but concur with you Mr Henry that the success of the late prime minister must be measured by the lives he touched and not simply by the number his years on this earth. Like you we feel that he was “cut down before he could accomplish the agenda he set for himself”. Like you we feel that “his full promise” remains “unfulfilled”.
• Matthew D. Farley is a secondary school principal, chairman of the National Forum on Education, and a social commentator. Email [email protected]