OUR CARIBBEAN: Prime minister who wanted to be a priest
Belizeans, as well as other nationals of the Caribbean Community, continue to reflect on the endearing leadership qualities of George Cadle Price, first prime minister of that CARICOM country and its first national hero, who was given a state funeral last week.
He died on September 19 in hospital following surgery for a head wound he suffered from a fall at home, just four months short of his 93rd birthday.
Price’s stout reputation as a tireless champion for Belize’s independence from Britain – and regionally as “the gentleman politician” who was firmly opposed to corruption and abuse of political power – has been well established beyond the shores of his native Belize, the CARICOM nation located in Central America.
Ian Randle, owner of internationally known and Jamaican-based Ian Randle Publishers, (IRP), is among Caribbean nationals quite familiar with the life and times of the late Belizean leader. Not surprisingly, therefore, he had no problem publishing Price’s “authorized biography” by Godfrey Smith, a former foreign minister of Belize.
When he passed through Barbados last week, Randle shared with me some of his reflections on the late Belizean leader and also the assessment of what the author Smith has produced between the covers of George Price – A Life Revealed, which is to be published later this month.
Randle wrote that the late distinguished editor of the Jamaica Gleaner, Theodore Seakey, once described Price as “an enigma, a man versed in dialectical argument but with no clearly defined positive nationalism for British Honduras” (the former colony for which he had fought the British to become the independent nation of Belize).
During that period, Price was also accused by his political opponents of having participated in secret negotiations for the transfer of British Honduras from British sovereignty to some form of association with neighbouring Guatemala which, to this day, persists with its territorial claim over a part of Belize.
Based on Smith’s forthcoming book, Randle writes of the Price who was an ascetic, a stoic, reclusive with few friends; a man who never married or raised a family; had pursued studies to become a Catholic priest; and one who, up to his death, had remained celibate.
He prepared his own meals, lived in the same house and maintained a humble lifestyle even amid his rising popularity as prime minister and subsequent national hero status.
Much as Price dominated Belizean politics for over half a century, and following his retirement from active politics, few of even his close political allies had a true understanding of the man and politician George Price.
With the objective of presenting an authentic profile, Smith, a former close colleague, got Price’s consent in 2009 to produce his authorized biography.
The result is the work soon to be released across the region and beyond as George Price – A Life Revealed.