Posted on

Henry Afflick “Flick” Haynes at forefront.

Henry Afflick “Flick” Haynes at forefront.

Social Share

Taking a flick back to 1950s

It wasn’t planned. It was purely coincidental, but it was certainly one of those coincidences that you wish you had orchestrated.

How fitting is it that as we celebrate this country’s 29th year of independence from Britain that we look back at the life of Henry Afflick “Flick” Haynes?{{more}}

He may be the only living person who served in this country’s Legislature in the 1950s and early 1960s.

Back then, Independence was just a dream, a goal; the basic rights of citizens were very slow in coming and took much lobbying to achieve.

Against this backdrop, Haynes, 88, the son of estate owner Edward Percival Haynes, served two terms with the People’s Political Party (PPP), under the legendary Ebenezer Theodore Joshua, who had formed the party in 1952.

Joshua was known as the defender of the rights of the poor and working class. So how did Haynes, a member of the planter class, the very class that Joshua often challenged, come to serve with Joshua, and furthermore be his second in command?

Henry Afflick “Flick” Haynes (2nd from left) meets the Queen Mother.

Haynes told SEARCHLIGHT that his mother Winifred deserves much of the credit for that.

Although he grew up on the Grand Sable Estate in Georgetown, where his father Edward was the manager, and later in Belair, after his father brought the 175-acre Dauphine Estate, Haynes said his mother kept him and his brothers and sister grounded, despite their privileged circumstances.

He recalled being taught to love people no matter their status in life, and his mother’s kindness to the less fortunate left an indelible impression on him.

The flogging he got for complaining when his mother asked him to give her last shilling to a poor woman who passed by is a lesson that Haynes said stuck with him for life.

Haynes attended the St Vincent Grammar School, where in 1936, the then 16-year-old was the opening bowler and batsman for the school team. He also represented the school in Football.

He didn’t say yes, but the bright smile he flashed told the story of a young man: tall, athletic, who commanded the attention of many girls at the time.

After school, Haynes joined his father on the estate, but the two couldn’t get along, so he went to work with the Arrowroot Association instead.

In 1942, after working for four years, Haynes, who was then the receiving and shipping manager, helped to organize a strike for better working conditions.

“We didn’t get what we were asking for. They just replaced us,” he said.

He rejoined his father at the estate, and later took over running it.

Haynes told SEARCHLIGHT that he never adopted the attitude of many other plantation owners who ill-treated their workers, because of his mother’s training.

“In those days, workers were not well paid and they were not well housed. I once said that some planters’ stables were better than the barracks where the workers slept,” Haynes said.

“In those days, the plantocracy ran the country, and although I was a planter and was heavily criticized, I loved the toiling masses,” Haynes said.

This love for the masses prompted him to first run as an independent candidate in the elections of 1954, where he lost by 100 votes.

His performance at the polls didn’t go unnoticed by Joshua, who convinced him to run on the PPP’s ticket in 1957, which he did and won the St George Constituency, giving the PPP five of the eight seats contested.

In the election of 1961, the St George constituency was spilt in two, and he won the West St George seat, while Joshua’s rival, Milton Cato, who would later become this country’s first Prime Minister, won in East St George.

He explained that back then, while the elected officials ran the internal affairs of the country, the real power was wielded by the British appointed Administrator, Attorney General and Finance Minister.

The Chief of Police was also British.

“We didn’t have much power. We fought for power. The power that the youngsters (in politics) nowadays enjoy is what Joshua and people like me fought for – to rid ourselves of colonialism,” he said.

Haynes recalled all the high profile dinners and events, including dinner with the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh aboard the vessel HMY Britanna in 1966, but it was the struggle for betterment for the people, working along with Joshua that was most fulfilling.

“Joshua wasn’t easy. He fought the British government. He made it hard on the administrator and the chief of police,” he said, shaking his head, chuckling, as though the memories were being awakened as he spoke to us.

“That is what politics is. It is about representing the people. Yes, yes, yes, politics should be seeing that the people are being taken care of, making sure that their needs are met.”

As SEARCHLIGHT spoke to Haynes, it was clear that there were many things, some very personal, that still affected him, that he couldn’t bring himself to talk about.

One such is the years that followed his daughter Jackie’s death in 1960. She died in his arms at the hospital, after being stricken with pneumonia.

All he would reveal is that his daughter’s death was a key reason why he ended his political career, messed up his life, lost the family estate, and struggled to find solid footing again.

So what did he do during this time?

“Oh, I just drank myself to death. I lost my estate, lost everything. Then I had to go to America and make a new life,” he said, without going, even when probed, into much detail.

Haynes had 10 children in total, five with his first wife, three with his current wife Eileen, and two others.

Now, as he enjoys the sunset days of his life with his wife at their Belair home, Haynes said that he is concerned about the increasing level of lawlessness and crime in the country.

He told SEARCHLIGHT that while the new police stations being built are good, he would rather see more emphasis being placed on specialized training for police officers so that they can be equipped with skills needed to deal with the modern criminal elements.