Address To The Nation By The Hon. Freundel Stuart Q.C., M.P. Prime Minister Of Barbados
At various times after 2: 00 a.m. yesterday morning, Barbadians received the sad news of the passing of this "Country’s Prime Minister, the Honourable David John Howard Thompson Q.C., M.P.?? The outpouring of tributes that has followed receipt of that news indicates, eloquently, the extent to which love and affection for him has run not only in the veins of the people of this nation and region, but of people internationally.
David Thompson signalled his intention to be a part of the public life of this nation and region when still a schoolboy.?? Barbadians remember with nostalgic delight his contributions to the television programme ???Understanding‘ in those days.?? Exposure to his charm of manner and incisiveness of comment, to say nothing about his sometimes withering repartee, made viewers wish that somehow, they could accelerate his maturation to adulthood.?? He did not disappoint.
After graduating from his beloved Combermere School, he would enter the Faculty of Law of the University of the West Indies whence in 1984 he graduated with the Bachelor of Laws degree with honours.?? Two years later, he graduated from the Hugh Wooding Law School and was admitted to the local Bar just a few months after the Democratic Labour Party was returned to office in 1986.
David Thompson’s political ascension would begin in June 1987 when the people of St. John insisted that he assume the lustrous mantle of Member of Parliament for that
Constituency, until then worn by another political titan, the late Right Excellent Errol Walton Barrow.?? Summoned by the logic of history and the needs of the people of St. John, he responded and was elected the Member of Parliament for that constituency on the 16th day of July, 1987.
We now know that it would take death to separate him from the people of a constituency whom he loved and for whom he always showed especial care.
After the Democratic Labour Party was returned to power in 1991, David Thompson was invited to join the Cabinet of Barbados.?? During this very turbulent period, his level headedness and maturity became evident to all, so that when the government fell in 1994 he was invited to take over the party’s leadership for the general elections of that year.?? Defeat in that election and subsequent ones did not deminish or dispirit him.?? An appetite for and devotion to politics and public service would continue to drive him until, in January, 2008, when the electorate once again embraced the Democratic Labour Party, his parliamentary colleagues invited him to lead them in Parliament and he was sworn in as Prime Minister.
Understandably, we all looked forward with excitement and anticipation to the kind of leadership he would bring to Barbados, since the office of Prime Minister seemed so perfectly to fit him; and in his first two years he did give some indication of what lay in store.?? Alas, the brief light of his Prime Ministership was to go out before noon.
Barbados has known this experience before, having lost two other Prime Ministers while they were serving in office.?? We brought then, all the resources of a resilient national character to bear on our circumstances of national travail.?? These resources remained undiminished and are still available for the nation’s reinforcement.
It is human to regard the late Prime Minister’s passing in the flower of political youth, as a national tragedy.?? As the nation’s leader, after all, he was, until a treacherous illness systematically disabled him, in full and manysided bloom.
May I remind you, though, that real tragedies consist not so much in the misfortunes which a country suffers, but in the opportunities which that country misses.?? While we grieve at our leader’s passing, therefore, yet another occasion has presented itself for us to put on display our national maturity for all to see.
The country will be officially in mourning until after the late Prime Minister’s funeral.?? I expect that the discipline, dignity and restraint for which Barbados is well known will be the motivation for our conduct during this difficult period.
Arrangements for the funeral and for what will happen during the period of national mourning are being coordinated by Senator the Hon. Maxine McClean, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, in collaboration with the Cabinet Office and in consultation with the late Prime Minister’s family.?? The public will be kept appropriately informed about these arrangements.
The contribution of David John Howard Thompson to public life in Barbados was extended, substantial and wise. ??His sparkling parliamentary and platform performances, though now ended, will live in our memories with an imperishable afterglow.
His dear wife Mara and his three beloved daughters Misha, Oya, and Osa-Marie have placed us eternally in their debt by the sacrifices they were prepared to endure while he was on loan to the rest of us.?? A compelling sense of appropriateness dictates that I thank them on behalf of the nation for the selflessness of which their sacrifices were so resplendent an example.
To them, as well as to his mother Margaret and his father Charles, to his siblings and all those countless others gladdened by his life, and now saddened by his death I should like to extend on behalf of my family and myself, and the government and people of Barbados, along with the family of the Democratic Labour Party, heartfelt condolences.
Upon my shoulders has now devolved the responsibility of leading the struggle in pursuit of those ideals for which he stood.?? With God going before me, I accept this responsibility with humility and a keen sense of duty ever conscious not only of the pressing needs of our nation but also of his oft expressed confidence in me.
May he rest in peace.?? God bless you.