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Doc and the ‘puny lawyer’


I here add my name to the long list of those who have paid tribute to that outstanding son of our soil, “Doc” Kirby, who passed away three weeks ago. The tremendous outpouring of grief and praise bears, testimony to his mark on our society. It was as it should be; in fact “Doc” deserves even more.{{more}}

One could not help but notice how often the laudations referred not just to his work, whether in the field of veterinary medicine, archaeology or history, but to his human qualities, humility, caring and wisdom being among them. Now that the dust is settled however, should we not be asking ourselves, “What can we do to ensure that all Doc did would not be in vain”? How can we preserve his legacy?”

For sure, praises alone, no matter how well deserved, will not do. Reading the tribute of Doc’s protégé, my school colleague of nearly a half a century, Morrison Baisden, I felt heartened. Morrison is confident that the work will go on and that there will be continuity in the work that “Doc” started. It says something of the commitment that he had others who are making sterling, but unsung contributions in their field, have to their cause. But their cause is really OUR CAUSE, so how can we also contribute?

We do not have to seek lofty solutions or complicated answers. There is much unfinished work regarding the historical and archaeological research, regarding the documentation of the research and historical fact, regarding the establishment of a National Museum which befits our proud history.

We can therefore call on our Government to pay its tribute to “Doc” by starting with those projects, by not allowing our history to fade into oblivion, by ensuring it is ground in concrete reality. Is “Doc” a part of our school curriculum? Don’t our children deserve to know about him and his contribution to our development? We have started an “Education Revolution” in a quantitative sense, we must now enrich it in a qualitative sense. Having launched the “Education Revolution” we can follow it up with the “Historical and Cultural Revolution” Doc, I’m sure will be pleased and can then Rest in Peace.


It was not too long ago, that we were singing praises about another son of our soil, this one not deceased, but alive and kicking. I refer here to outstanding legal luminary, Justice Adrian Saunders of the newly established Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ). The words of commendation were not offered sparingly, or grudgingly, or undeservedly. He

has truly made us all proud.

None more so than me. It is with a wry smile and a twinkle in my eye that I reveled in those copious tributes. And what kept coming back to me was the old saying, “The stone that those builders refuse…….” Remember it?

For I reflected not on the handsomely graying Justice Saunders, but the young barrister Adrian Saunders, pencil-thin and razor sharp, his sense of nationalism, patriotism, internationalism, fairness and justice leading him to combine his legal talents with political and social service. To the youth of our country through the National Youth Council and the Table Tennis Association and to the poor, the oppressed and downtrodden through YULIMO (the Youlou United Liberation Movement) and its successor the United People’s Movement (UPM).

Do you recall what “we” had to say of him then? No perceptions then of his immense talent and the invaluable contribution that he would make to the development of our nation! NO! He was a “puny lawyer” a “flightly little boy,” who “ain’t full we eye”. No time to listen to what he was saying, to appreciate what he was doing, to ascertain the strength of his convictions.

Nearly 30 years have passed and we are now waking up to marvel at the fruits of his labour, to revel in his accomplishments, to bask in the glory of the accolades offered to our fellow Vincentian.

We are most welcome to do so, but it shouldn’t take so long for us to recognize the talent amidst our own, to help to nuture and support our young people in their quest for social and national achievement. After all, we do not know how many more potential Justice Saunders’ are hiding behind the simple facade and the baby face.

Even as we waited until Adrian flowered before we could adore the beauty, even not until at Doc’s graveside we took cognizance of his work, it is not too late for us to reflect and to become much more perceptive and appreciative of OUR OWN.