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WE SALUTE OUR HEROES!
Thursday 8th December 2011

Officially, we have five of them:

King Court/Prince Klaas, who began life in a royal house in Ghana (1691), was embraced here as King during an elaborate ceremony that included the traditional shield dance of the Akan people of Ghana, went on to inspire Antigua’s greatest planned uprising of enslaved Africans, was martyred in Ottos Pasture (1736) for his efforts, and lives on as a symbol of humanity’s unquenchable thirst for freedom.

Dame Nellie Robinson, who was only 18 when she started the Thomas Oliver Robinson Memorial School, named for her brother, in 1898; and who through this simple act widened access to education to include the formerly excluded so called “illegitimate” children, estimated at 75 percent of the population at the time, and, by so doing, to quote historian Leonard Tim Hector, “(challenging) the colonial history” and turning the social order on its head.

Sir Vere Cornwall Bird Sr., who towered over not only the labour movement (beginning in 1939 with the Antigua Trades and Labour Union of which he was initially an executive member and later president) but the politics and life of Antigua and Barbuda through epic colonial era battles with the plantocrats to the milestone of Independence (1981) and post-Independence; a career of firsts (first Premier, Chief Minister, Prime Minister), earning himself the moniker Father of the Nation.

Sir George Walter, who was the country’s second Premier, and, as co-founder of both the Antigua Workers Union and the Progressive Labour Movement, put his stamp on the country in the pre-Independence era, passing into law groundbreaking legislation like the Social Security Act and Labour Code during his time in office.

Sir Vivian Richards, whose exploits on the cricket field are legendary – 8540 runs through 121 Tests, record for the fastest century, only Windies captain never to have lost a Test series, one of Wisden’s top five cricketers of the 20th century – and who is the only living national hero.

There you have it, our heroes, not because they wear halos, as no one is perfect, but because they made a meaningful mark on this land we all love.


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