The Rt Hon. Owen Seymour Arthur was one of Barbados’ better sons. He was a consummate politician and leader. He loved the cut and thrust of parliamentary and political debate. His aim was always to make his point with deliberate clarity and passion. He was not easy on his opponents. My first day in parliament in 2003 was a baptism of fire from him. I remember him passing his index finger underneath his throat seeming to suggest and he did mean it, I am going to mash you all up in here today, as he later said was his intention.
At that time it was Michael Lashley, David Estwick, Richard Sealy and yours truly, who were new to the Lower House. It was a baptism of fire for the Newbees. After the session that day, some of us retreated to the lunchroom to quench our throats with the drink of our choice. As we stood at the Bar, he retorted, “Young Jones, you handled the baptism of fire well. It is not personal with me”. He went on to speak of his own treatment by Errol Barrow when he first came to parliament. He said that Barrow treated him roughly, but he realized that it was all meant to prepare him as a first time parliamentarian for the unforgiving harshness of political debate.
As a member of a different political organization I grew to appreciate his quality of intellect, his indomitable combative style of leading and speaking, his wit and humor, his many conversations over the years, particularly in the last few years. Whenever we met either in a social or formal setting he had something to say. Owen Arthur was someone who taught you much. I watched him tire over the years as the crush of the strains of health told its story. Persons who are not exposed to national leadership and governance would never realize the toil the numerous responsibilities take on your life.
The damaged family lives, the strain on your health by inconvenient eating, the long nights, the frustration one feels when much more could not be achieved with availability resources, the pressures to always do right for your constituents and country, and then to realize that you cannot be everything to everyone at the same time. Owen Arthur was human, engrained with the foibles, frailties and fragilities of being human, yet he must be celebrated for having ventured forth to public service and to face the long knives of his adversaries.
No amount of words can tell us how he felt about his life and his contribution to nationhood. Unfortunately, he has passed without his autobiography being penned. Too many stories of our leaders have not been told either by themselves or others. We now have to reminisce. I extend my condolences to his wife, daughters, and his extended family as well as his friends. MAY HIS SOUL REST IN ETERNAL PEACE.
—Former DLP MP, Mr Ronald Jones
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