Barbados: A Nation Mourns

Barbados – along with the rest of the region – is in mourning following the untimely death of Barbadian Prime Minister David Thompson, who passed away yesterday from pancreatic cancer. At 48 years old, he was one of the youngest Caribbean heads of state, having led the Democratic Labour Party to victory in Barbados’ hotly-contested general election in January 2008, winning by a landslide against the incumbent Barbados Labour Party. Bloggers across the Caribbean archipelago are paying their respects…

Barbados in Focus laments the loss of “a son”:

No matter your political affiliation, religion, economic standing, or social position, please join me in sending condolences to family of the late David John Howard Thompson, the sixth Prime Minister of Barbados. He will be missed by the nation of Barbados, and by people throughout the Caribbean.

Barbados Free Press republishes the late Prime Minister’s final letter to his St. John constituents and adds:

He fought hard, with courage and with the dignity that was always part of his character in public and in private…it is a mercy that he had time to prepare himself, his loved ones, his friends and his beloved Barbados for his passing.

Our thoughts and prayers are with his wife, Mara, and his three daughters Misha, Oya and Osa and David’s mum, Margaret Knight.

In a later post, the blog uploads a musical tribute to Thompson.

Boyce Voice‘s post takes on a personal tone:

I first met David at Combermere when I entered that school back in 1974.
I remember David in the hallowed school hall of “Waterford University” participating in “mock” parliamentary debates; it was the beginning of his potential as a debater and orator of great skill.

I remember David as a lawyer…there were several times throughout the years where our cultural objectives would be endangered by some nefarious anti cultural villain and we would call out to David, he would swoop down like a caped legal crusader and save us from certain artistic demise.

I remember David as a Prime Minister, the first PM to come forth from the University of Waterford, I had the privilege of working with him during the campaign. I remembered after the last elections and my telephone rang and I answered “Hello Mr Prime Minister” for that was the first time a PM had ever called me…

Such was the measure of the man, Gone but never to be forgotten; may he Rest in Peace, I remember PM David..

Caribbean Lionesse shares how she felt when she heard the news:

Call me foolish but I really was shaken when I got the call around 5 a.m. this morning. It felt like it had been so long that he had been ill that I had started to convince myself he would hold on and be in that small sliver of those who survive pancreatic cancer.

Like most Barbadians home and away I am saddened. It really is a personal tragedy writ large. He's not even 50. His children aren't even done raised yet. It truly is unfair and makes you wonder why.

The Bajan Reporter, meanwhile, publishes a series of posts highlighting various messages of sympathy from public figures.

In the midst of grieving, Barbados Underground thought it appropriate to welcome “the seventh Prime Minister of Barbados” to his new post:

The government will join Barbadians to mourn the passing of Prime Minister David Thompson in the coming days before being expected to settle down to the business of navigating the raging global economic storm.

Prime Minister Stuart is not unfamiliar functioning in the role of Prime Minister albeit in the shadow of the events caused by the illness of former Prime Minister David Thompson in recent months. Barbadians will have high expectations of Stuart now that he has assumed the position of Prime Minister in his own right.

Bloggers from other nations are also offering their condolences; Jamaican diaspora blogger Dennis Jones, who lived in Barbados for many years, writes:

At the tender age of 48, he died from pancreatic cancer a few hours ago. His family, friends and the whole country will mourn his passing. A young national leader is a rarity in the Caribbean, and as one of those sometimes termed the ‘Independence generation’, he was a shining star. Whatever his political opponents may think or say, his leadership was not complete and will be now hard to judge. He took his post during one of the most difficult of economic times and his efforts to chart a way through were never going to meet universal approval. His death may provide a moment that helps turn Barbados towards finding a unity that may be more important than ever in helping solve its economic problems.

Barbadian diaspora blogger Jdid says:

My condolences to his family and the nation. Every one has their appointed hour but some go earlier than we would like.

My prayers also go out to the new PM Mr Fruendel Stuart and his cabinet as he embarks on steering Barbados’ course. Is not an easy road bredren by any means especially in the present economic climate but stay the course.

Finally, Abeni, blogging from St. Vincent and the Grenadines, recalls two occasions on which her paths had crossed with the late Prime Minister's:

For close to half an hour I sat quietly and thought about David Thompson, his family, his political journey, his illness and his death.

I didn't know David Thompson beyond a chance meeting in Kingstown…the thing that struck me most about that encounter was his approachable, no frills, down to earth manner.

Slowly the tears came. Tears of anger that cancer had once more wreaked havoc and taken yet another life. Tears of dismay that a cure still seems so distant.Tears that a young vibrant man had been cut down just when he had finally attained his dream of leading his country…I wish to express my heartfelt sympathies to his family, close friends and the nation of Barbados…


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