REMEMBERING BARROW: Cabinet ministers break down in tears
THE DEMOCRATIC LABOUR PARTY’S headquarters at George Street, known for its talent shows, calypso showdowns and other related entertainment activities was transformed into a hall of gloom last night following the announcement of Prime Minister Errol barrow’s sudden death.
Cabinet Ministers wept openly, supporters embraced each other in disbelief as the news of Prime Minister Barrow’s passing took hold in the concrete building.
Fighting to hold back tears, Minister of Housing and Hands Harold Blackman reacted: “All that I can say is that I am very, very sad.”
Recalling how he had first heard the shocking news, Blackman said he was with fellow Cabinet minister Evelyn Greaves, and upon their arrival at a reception which was being held for some visiting delegates, the guard on duty handed them both a note, and on it were instructions to call the Prime Minister’s office immediately.
Blackman said the voice of Parliamentary Secretary Cyril Walker on the telephone line then broke the news of the sad event.
“…The phone almost dropped out of my hand,” Blackman said.
The housing minister also described the shocking news as “just too much to accept”.
“Anybody who knows me would tell you from the time I was 16, I would argue up and down Barbados about Errol Barrow, so you would know how I feel,” Blackman added.
Minister of Agriculture Warwick Franklin sought unsuccessfully to control his emotions as he reflected upon the passing of Prime Minister Barrow.
With tears streaming down his cheeks, Franklin described Prime Minister Barrow as an undoubtedly great “son of the soil”.
“History will record his achievements and the people of Barbados will appreciate what he did,” Franklin added.
Trade and Commerce Minister Evelyn Greaves described Prime Minister Barrow’s death as a great loss to the Caribbean and the world.
Greaves also said the late Prime Minister’s leadership qualities would certainly be missed by the Democratic Labour Party (DLP).
Trade unionist LaVere Richards said the late leader, besides being a great man, was also his idol.
He spoke of hearing the unfortunate news upon reaching home after attending a hotel workers’ union meeting.
Richards said Barrow’s death was a tragic loss to the entire community.
Although the vigil kept at the Auditorium was one of silence and apparent meditation on the life and times of the late Prime Minister, supporters highlighted Barrow’s early education policy, which, according to them, provided the gateway for the less fortunate to attain a “top level education”.
As if they never wanted to envisage the thought of going to their respective homes, party supporters kept an all-night vigil, as solemn tunes and occasional extracts from some of Prime Minister Barrow’s speeches echoed throughout the auditorium, signalling the end of the colourful career of one of Barbados’ most illustrious sons.
This article was published June 2, 1987.