Tribute To A Son Of The Soil, The Late Prime Minister David Thompson Gone Too Soon!

Submitted by the People’s Democratic Congress (PDC)


It is with deep sadness and  sorrow that the members of the People’s Democratic Congress (PDC) learned last Saturday morning of the passing of the late former Prime Minister, David John Howard Thompson, at his Mapps, St. Philip residence, at 2.10 am in the morning. His finally succumbing to pancreatic cancer at 48 years old, after a brief courageous battle against it, has truly created a giant wave of emotion sympathy anguish and mourning across the island from thousands of Barbadians – many of whom saw Thompson become the first young person to be fore-knighted by the people as a prime minister of Barbados – PDC

Prime Minister of Barbados Hon David Thompson

Such a remarkable fore-ordination must be seen by esp. political historians as an unforgettable chapter in life and times of the late Mr. Thompson. So, indeed, Barbados has lost one of its illustrious sons ever. He was a student, scholar, teacher, lawyer, community person parliamentarian, husband, father, humanist, among other things. Most endearingly, in every role that he played he seemed to give his all – give his best.

As a matter of fact, this  quality seemed to be one that was identified by many Barbadian people from very earlier on in his life, and seemed to have been underpinned then by his high intelligence quotient, his  relentless pursuit of knowledge, his excellent argumentative skills, and his fondness for people of all walks of life.

Of course, many stories have been told by many persons of his years at the Combermere School – where he honed many of his life skills, and fashioned many of his future life chances and social relationships.

We are aware of the circumstance that later on in his life, Mr. Thompson would often remark about the fact that, when he was a school boy at the Combermere School at the age of 16 years, he became a member of the Democratic Labour Party.  We remember too that in one of the DLP Annual Conference documents, as General Secretary of the party in the 1990s, he made mention, then, of that fact, and what that truly symbolized to him.

One of our most memorable recollections of the then young, articulate, studious but stiff David Thompson was the many times we used to see him in the front passenger seat of the Right Excellent Errol Walton Barrow’s yellow Mercedes. In those times it was clear that he was a protégé  of  Mr Barrow – who at the time was the Political Leader of this once great party.

So, it was no surprise then that – consequent upon the death of Mr. Barrow,  Mr. Thompson – who then had become a lawyer  – was to be chosen as the natural political replacement for a national political titan, who himself had been for so many years representing the beautiful parish/constituency of St. John in the House of Assembly, and who today has been named a national hero of Barbados and has acclaimed by many as the Father of Independence of our country.

We also remember that one of Thompson’s first major parliamentary acts was to move a resolution in the House of Assembly – to signal the establishment of Errol Barrow Day in this country – in honour of the outstanding contributions of this late great Barbadian statesman to the development of our country.

Such was his capacity to recognize and honour the great achievements of many other outstanding Barbadian people (And we must not forget that recently the Sherbourne Conference Centre was renamed the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre).

Throughout the 23 years that Mr. Thompson represented the constituency of St. John in the House of Assembly of the Parliament of Barbados, it was seen ever so often how he demonstrated a passion and a flair for organized parliamentary debate, and exhibited a profound knowledge of parliamentary procedure.

We remember the role he played some years ago in making sure that there was a reconstituted Public Accounts Committee of the Parliament. We also recall him in his youthful forthrightness in the late 80s rightly criticizing the policy of some magistrates to send persons down to the psychiatric hospital without publicized reason.

And also recollected him toying with the idea of Republicanism for Barbados during the early 90s. We and some other persons recall now the times when he stuck manfully – esp. as Minister of Finance – to the task of helping to stabilize and restructure much of the affairs of the Barbados economy and government  in the said difficult  period  of the early 1990s. And we remark about those times – in the early 2000s – and the events  – e.g. three successive electoral defeats -  that help led to his resigning the presidency of the DLP on about two occasions.

And what we will also never forget is a time, in  2004, when the SMFD/PDC had their public relations poster campaign going, and  had the occasion to be out on a certain Sunday afternoon on the My Lords Hill Main Road conducting a particular aspect of the program,  and the members, who were there that time, saw that – as he drove by in his blue Vitara – he had observed what they were doing, and saw that he had smiled wonderfully at what they were doing – handing out posters to many people and sticking them up, and since big and bold on some of the posters were “VOTE THE BLP OUT”, and with that these members  had promptly acknowledged his awareness of what they were doing at the time by waving him on. Perhaps he had  sensed at the time that the SMFD/PDC members were laying part of the foundation for change in government, and sensed that he had to quickly rejuvenate and reposition himself in time to help lead his party to eventual victory in 2008.

Well, towards the end of his political life, the PDC would have taken careful note of the fact that – since his having become prime minister in January 2008,  he was never afraid to tackle some controversial issues, indiscipline on many privately owned  mass transit vehicles,  the immigration issue, the firing of 3S SRL, etc. Such was the stuff that made it clear to us that he was growing into his own as a political force to be reckoned with – until yes he was so unfortunately cut down by that illness. Too what we wish to say is that neither was he hesitant to put his personal stamp on programmatizing of certain social affairs in Barbados, e.g. via his promulgation that families were the bed rock of society, via his being the only parliamentarian of his generation to be frequently found at many young people gatherings – football, fetes – even if it meant unwarranted criticism from certain quarters.

Such an emboldened  liberated spirit must have been a reflex of the fact that Thompson was the only parliamentarian – that we  have ever known of  – in the recent politics of this country that was so outwardly hardened by the vagaries of opposition  politics in Barbados that – by the time he became prime minister – he may have been softened terribly on the inside by those pressures.

We must say that  now is the right time for plans to be drawn up to propose a fitting national memorial to be dedicated to the perpetuation of the memory of the late David John Howard Thompson in Barbados and beyond.

Finally, on the behalf of the respective families, friends, supporters and associates of the members of our party, we extend deepest sincerest condolences to his wife, Mara, his children, Oya, Misha, Osa-Marie, his mother, Margaret Knight, and to other family members, friends and loved ones of the late Prime Minister of Barbados.

May he rest in peace.

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29 responses to “Tribute To A Son Of The Soil, The Late Prime Minister David Thompson Gone Too Soon!

  1. From sons of the soil- PDC – to our native son, we are with you as one.
    May he rest in peace.

  2. @PDC

    Good tribute.

    Combermerians of this generation will remember the Late Prime Minister Thompson because of Combermere Week at this time.

  3. The Economist posted a nice article on PM Thompson.

    Sun obscured by clouds

    The untimely death of the prime minister – THE ECONOMIST

    Oct 27th 2010

    IN THE English-speaking Caribbean voters tend to venerate experience in their political leaders. David Thompson stood out when he became prime minister of Barbados in 2008 at the comparatively young age of 46. His death, of pancreatic cancer, on October 23rd was untimely as well as tragic. Amid national mourning, his funeral will be held at Kensington Oval, the island’s iconic cricket ground.

    In a sometimes turbulent Caribbean, Barbados, with a population of 280,000, has been a model of prosperity and good governance. In its annual survey of perceptions of corruption released this week, Transparency International, an NGO, ranked Barbados as cleaner than both Britain and the United States. The island outscores all other Caribbean and Latin American countries in the United Nations’ human-development index. Education is free to postgraduate degree level. Crime rates are among the region’s lowest. All this has been underpinned by a prosperous economy based on tourism and financial services.

    But there are several clouds in the island’s sky. A ten-year boom in tourism ended with the world financial crisis in 2008. Arrivals from Britain, the main source, have come down by more than 20% since then. Restaurants have closed, sales of luxury holiday homes have nosedived. A planned new Four Seasons resort is in suspense. Sam Lord’s Castle, a historic hotel whose redevelopment was stalled, burned down on October 20th. Troubles are not confined to tourism. The sugar industry has lost money for decades, but politicians have kept it going rather than risk the wrath of the electorate. Many of the less small among the island’s companies are now owned by Trinidadians.

    Barbados dealt with earlier downturns by borrowing, mainly for sensible projects such as port and airport upgrades or road improvements. But on some measures public debt is now more than 100% of GDP. Tax revenues have fallen sharply. This month the government raised its borrowing target rather than bring forward promised but unpopular public-spending cuts. That prompted Standard & Poor’s, a ratings agency, to cut Barbados’s credit rating to just one notch above junk status.

    So Mr Thompson’s deputy and successor, Freundel Stuart, faces a difficult baptism. An election is not due until 2013. He may be tempted to call one earlier, to seek a mandate for some tough economic decisions. That would not be without risk. The opposition has just dumped its leader in favour of Owen Arthur, who was prime minister for 14 years until Mr Thompson defeated him and is one of the Caribbean’s political elders.

  4. What is an untimely death? My belief is that when your time is up the Maker calls you. David died at his predestined time, none of us know when our time is, so we must live a moral and christian life, since we don’t have not even the next minute assured.

  5. @The Scout

    There is always the perception that 3 score and ten is the magic number.

  6. George Reid, PhD

    @David | October 28, 2010 at 6:49 AM |

    “@The Scout

    There is always the perception that 3 score and ten is the magic number.”

    David, I do not recall seeing a more unfortunate expression, in recent memory! I am sure that you would hasten to correct the Malthusian inferences in your statement. The words or Psalm 90:10 are often quoted, casually, without the substantive explanation that exegesis and hermeneutics would require. (Zoe and GP please stand up!). However, as a septaugenarian, I feel that the emphasis really should be on the futility of a long life in which little is achieved. In that sense the comparison with what the late Rt. Hon. David John Howard Thompson achieved in slightly less than 49 years is instructive.

    The quoted article from the Economist, which lives up to its expected high standard, is particularly interesting to me since it’s assertion that the increase in the borrowing limit under the Local Loans ACT “prompted Standard & Poor’s, a ratings agency, to cut Barbados’s credit rating to just one notch above junk status.” can be taken as a cogent explanation why the writer concludes that the death of David Thompson was “untimely” FOR BARBADOS. I am aware that S&P’s action has been considered in some quarters to have been prompted by a perception that the Government is reluctant to take appropriate action on the expenditure side. Should I now conclude that the writer feels , with S&P, that prospective additional borrowing on the domestic market, which can crowd out the private sector, is irresponsible, and that the legislative action that makes this possible lacked the steadying counsel of our late PM?

    No doubt the members of the Government will find more comfort in the statement that “In its annual survey of perceptions of corruption released this week, Transparency International, an NGO, ranked Barbados as cleaner than both Britain and the United States.”, but so too will the members of the Opposition.

    I, George Reid, gone fuh now!!

  7. It is unfortunate that the late P.M David Thompson died at this time but certainly it was not untimely.

  8. @David (aka DofBU) is there a problem playing youtube vids on other threads? (mr disabler)

    Knocking on heaven’s door
    http://www.youtube.com/user/reggaematicltd?feature=mhum#p/a/u/0/0qBT6nmtUk0

  9. @Doc R (the Septuagenarian)

    No offense meant, was only applying a widely held perception. Your comment has merit of course.

    @Kiki

    Check WP because BU is innocent as charged.

  10. @ David. Is it possible for one to be non-religious and still live a moral life?

  11. @Zion1971
    Is it possible for one to be religious and live an immoral life?

  12. BP, I see somebody like you among many others paying your respect to the PM as he lay in State.

  13. PUBLIC VIEWING-OCT 28TH.f4v

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UxUlfGnqLD4&feature=uploademail

    Late Prime Minister David Thompson body lying in state in the Lower Chamber

  14. The viewing could have been seen all day by clicking on the Parliament TV link to the right of this site.

  15. @zion1972

    You have asked a question which often leads the respondent to dive into the realm of the esoteric.

    The moral fabric of a nation embodies many things. The emphasis is on the nation and not individual.

    In the Barbados context the DNA of the Bajan landscape has seen respect for law and order, a respect for God and/or things spiritual, etc. Our laws, customs, norms are heavily influenced by the Bible and God.

    Not to get heavy on the response but you can see where this is headed.

    If the Bajan DNA Code contains some of the above, the answer to your question should follow a logical path.

  16. I’m not sure if I’m going to view the body of David Thompson. Right now I’m torn between whether I should or should not, I want to remember the David Thompson I knew but I think I have to go to bring closure to this whole matter; it is a decision I will make tonight one way or the other.

  17. Georgie Porgie

    George Reid, PhD | October 28, 2010 at 8:05 AM |
    You are correct in opining that Psalm 90:10 is often quoted, casually, without the substantive explanation that exegesis and hermeneutics would require.

    I don’t have the time to research this now, but as a septaugenarian, you need not worry too much, as longevity seems to be quite common in Barbados……although it is noteworthy that many are being gathered to their fathers at an early age.

    My view is that persons born before a certain time are more likely to live longer than those born after say about 1966, about which time our dietary habits changed. Since then other major epidemiological factors have come into play. This view is based on certain observations and reflections that I made in the early nineties. I did not get the time to do any serious research on this matter, however.

    Note that though David speaks about 70 years, this was not really a magic number and that this age was not attained by many in most countries in the last two centuries, and even before then.

    It is noteworthy too that the scriptures declares that longevity is a blessing, whether you are famous and art highly thought off, or of you are life most of our centenarians just ordinary folk who have lived a solid, godly life in most cases.

    Whereas the pre delivian people seemed to have lived for centuries, it is noticeable that there was a clear declension in the ages of the Patriarchs going from 175 in Abraham to Joseph at 110.
    Many Bajans talk a lot of junk about when our time is up its up, but that concept is nowhere taught in Scriptures. However, there are several scriptures that indicate that persons were “cut off” or “sleep” prematurely because of divine intervention in judgement. The scriptures is filled with many such examples, as I have indicated with several examples in a former post.
    I can not remember reading any verse that says that the Lord calls any one at a predestined time. Scriptures on the doctrine of predestination all refer to salvation and are always coupled with the doctrine of election.
    @Zion1971
    Re Is it possible for one to be non-religious and still live a moral life?
    Yes. Morals has nothing to do with religion per se. Many atheists and agnostics are very moral and upright. i.e they live a lifestyle that accords with the mores or morals of their societies It is true though that the laws and morals of many countries follow the tenets of the Bible.

    Is it possible for one to be religious and live an immoral life?
    Using a broad definition of religion YES Religion has nothing to do with morals.
    However, 1 Corinthians and the NT in general indicates that immorality is incompatible with the Christian life.
    Now carefully read what I have written before responding with methane!

  18. @Georgie Porgie

    Thank you for your response. Very interesting and informative post

  19. Eye Spy
    I was just watching it on You Tube and I was tearing up inside. Haven’t gone to the viewing yet but when I do I will try to compose myself. Watching it made me shed a tear and a lump is in my throat. Trying to hold back the tears. I feel so baddddddddddddddd.

  20. Georgie Porgie

    Instead of “in the last two centuries, and even before then” I meant to say “THE LAST TWO MILLENIA”.

  21. Not hard to understand

    Mr. Porgie, you meant to say “the last two millenia”.

    1. Did you mean millennia?

    2. Would you say “musea” or “stadia”?

    3. Are you a dunce?

  22. Seems like the Owen Arthur faction of the BLP are gloating at the death of PM Thompson.

    But could someone be so vulgar and indecent that they would say at a parliamentary group meeting that BLP members should attend the funeral so that they would be sure that they are finally putting PM Thompson in that dam hole.

    Ask Jerome Walcott if you feel Arthur did not say so monday night.

  23. IslandGal 246; re. your 8:44 post with the Pancreatic Cancer link.

    Thanks very much. It made me wonder when the cancer is detected at a late stage, if the patient might not have a much better quality of remaining life by refusing to take radiation, surgery and such like treatments. That is until they can reliably detect the very earliest stages of the cancer. Imagine the cancer could be developing and metastasizing for as much as 20 years before being detected, even with regular checkups.

    Hope they put a lot more money into early detection research.
    Thanks again for putting up the link.

  24. @checkit-out

    You are welcome. I believe that the quality of life is of more important to me at the later stage of the disease than trying to find a cure knowing the odds. As we grow older our bodies are a ticking time bomb. I believe that stress plays a big part as well.

    @Bonny

    Do not let peoples rantings raise your blood pressure. I agree that they should at least wait until after the funeral. It is not kind to the family, but humans beings are capricious and politics has no conscience.

    @Georgie P

    You are quite likable when yuh ain preaching the bible to people. But ah got a question fuh yuh…what dat ting bout methane yuh talking bout? Yuh got bad gas? Some hot tea will clear it outta yuh . LOL

  25. One of the better known survivors of pancreatic cancer is Steve Jobs CEO of Apple Corp. I remember there was a lot of chatter in the business world about the Apple’s future if he died since he is the visionary of the company. According to Wiki his cancer is a less aggressive form of the disease which can be treated with surgery although in recent years he has been beset by other illnesses and has had a liver transplant.

    I had a close friend who died three months after diagnosis in 2007.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Steve_Jobs

  26. Georgie Porgie

    island gal
    I am quite likeable to those who know me
    In my church circles I am very likeable for my Bible teaching.

  27. Sargeant | October 29, 2010 at 12:10 AM |
    “I had a close friend who died three months after diagnosis in 2007.”

    It just goes to show and I do believe there is a time allotted to all of us. I saw a lady on TV earlier this week who declared that she was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer 21 months ago and that her family and friends were not looking for her to survive this long. She did not get into full details about her illness.

    We, John and Joan Public do not know half or close to all the details that surrounded our beloved PM’s illness. Quite frankly, I don’t think we need to know, or it is any of our business.

  28. Georgie Porgie

    Perhaps if you can underestand the Pathology in this article, you might understand a little of the vagaries of “pancreatic” cancer.
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2020752/

    After all cancers of the pancreas are not all the same, and will therefore have different prognoses. A few weeks ago some illiterate in pathology scolded me for correctly saying that David had an adenocarcinoma which is only one type of malignant tumor of the pancreas. Hilarious!

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