The supposedly “honourable” Donville Inniss, Barbados’ Minister of Commerce and Industry, is a liar of the highest pedigree, as is evident by his outrageously mendacious comments about the racial self identification of David Comissiong while a teenage school-boy at Harrison College. (In a recent debate in the House of Assembly Inniss claimed that David Comissiong self identified as a white boy when he was a student at Harrison College)
David Comissiong– the son of a Methodist Minister of Religion– migrated to Barbados in 1971, after living at Victoria Square and attending Tranquility Primary School in Port of Spain, Trinidad, in the midst of the Black Power revolution that erupted in the communities of Port of Spain from the month of February 1970. (Incidentally, Tranquility Primary was a government school that also produced Dr Eric Williams, Stokely Carmichael and Tony Martin).
The eleven year old David Comissiong ( and the family that he was a part of ) were required to live in the Methodist Manse in the semi-exclusive residential area known as Highgate Gardens, and almost immediately he challenged the race and class structures of that residential community by seeking out friends from the black working class community of the Pine housing area.
The Comissiong home became a veritable community centre in Highgate Gardens , and became the locus of an extensive group of black middle class and working class boys drawn from both Highgate Gardens and the Pine who grew up together and became life long friends. Furthermore, many times the young David Comissiong was forced to defend his black working class friends against racist white residents of Highgate Gardens who were opposed to their constant presence in the hitherto exclusive residential community.
Actually, David Comissiong did not come to social activism as an adult– he was fighting race and class struggles in Highgate Gardens from as early as thirteen years old . Indeed, what Donville Inniss may be blissfully unaware of is that there is a whole generation of people from the Pine– particularly from the areas of Blackman Field and Princess Royal Avenue — who knew the teenage David Comissiong well.
But it is not only the people of the Pine who were able to witness and scrutinize the teenage David Comissiong up close– virtually the whole of Barbados had a good view of the young David Comissiong. You see, while he was still a school boy at Harrison College, David Comissiong used to regularly appear on a CBC television programme called “Understanding” — a programme in which he and other young students such as the now deceased David Thompson and former Government minister Liz Thompson, would interrogate adult public figures and would express their own social and political views.
The reality is that David Comissiong was literally born Black conscious and from as far back as he can remember self identified as a proud Black human being.
Indeed, David Comissiong’s first published Letter to the Editor was written when he was 14 years old and was a defense of Black people against a scurrilous racist attack. In addition , David Comissiong was known at Harrison College for his big Afro hairstyle, and he had the distinction of once being called out by the Headmaster (Albert Williams) before the whole school at morning assembly and instructed not to return to school until he had cut his hair!
It may also be usefully noted that David Comissiong appeared in theatrical productions at Harrison College and for Harrison College at NIFCA, and famously played the part of the African prince!
David Comissiong , who distinguished himself at Harrison College as a House Captain, Editor of the School Newspaper, Vice Captain of the school’s Track and Field team, Barbados Exhibition Winner, and who was voted by his sixth form peers as the student who had made the most outstanding contribution to the school, actually has no recollection of Donville Inniss at Harrison College.
He , however recollects many other presently outstanding citizens of Barbados who were at Harrison College with him! One of them is prominent Attorney-at-Law and Cricket administrator Philip Nicholls, who has recently published a book in which he refers to the teenage David Comissiong.
Here, for the record, is one of Nicholl’s recollections of the teenaged David Comissiong :-
Extract from Philip Nicholl’s recently published book entitled “More Binding Than Marriage: The perils of a legal partnership” :–
“From Merrivale I moved on to Harrison College in 1971….. At Kolij I met up with some persons who were to become lifelong friends, guys such as Edmund Hinkson, Solly Nana, Frank Belgrave…. David Comissiong…and Reuben Bailey…. Already, however, those early days were seeing auditions for our future interests. Those present at our many summer limes that included robust playing of road tennis will remember well David Comissiong’s mortification that some of us could be supporting “imperialist” nations at the 1978 World Cup when African nations and Brazil were playing.”
Oh, what a congenital liar Donville Inniss is!