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Tribute to Sir Fred Albert Phillips

Tribute to Sir Fred Albert Phillips

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04.MAR.11

by R. T. Luke V. Browne
March 4, 2011

Sir Fred’s achievements could hardly be traced to his precise origin. Could he be the little black boy from rural Brighton in St. Vincent and the Grenadines? You mean a “little black boy” went to the prestigious Grammar School to learn? A “country boy” was at ease in colonial city? A “small-islander” was Cabinet Secretary in the Federal Government of the West Indies? Was he really the Governor of St. Kitts-Nevis-Anguilla during Associated Statehood? The man who wrote so many important books and helped set up UWI’s campus, complete with law faculty, at Cave Hill?

Sir Fred was black and unmasked but never trapped within his skin. He stood barely above five feet but nothing was out of his reach. Or out of our reach, he insisted. He even outlived the end of his age. It was good enough to witness Mandela walk to freedom. By 2008 it wasn’t bad to be black, even in a white world.

What about federation? He conquered that too in the mind; and there it all begins. He gave us the laws and set the example, having “contrived to live a regional rather than an insular existence”. We shall finish the work, Sir Fred. You kept the minutes and became our teacher. We shall build according to your designs which knew too well the destructive force of natural and political hurricanes.

Rest in peace, dear prophet. We now know that the soils of Antigua and Barbuda are no different from the soil of Brighton, St. Vincent and the Grenadines. You are our federalist. You have come from rich Caribbean soil and have returned to fertilize that soil after planting the seeds of thought. These are magic seeds. To secure integration is to touch the sky and capture our pot of gold.

The Citizen reflected on his life’s journey that required him to walk 16 miles daily for primary school education, and then bike to secondary school before, as a regional worker, he peddled the air by plane. Life evolved and he moved with the times: from message-in-a-bottle to e-mail. The Citizen asked: “What contribution have I made towards the welfare of my fellowman in general and my family in particular on my way through life?” He didn’t carry the region and leave his family. Sir Fred also asked: have I done enough for those less fortunate than myself? Justice, not just the Judiciary, was ever on his mind. So death is not a penalty. It is Sir Fred’s reward. Today, we mark the elevation our beloved Methodist QC to the glorious Upper Bar.

He has achieved and seen. His work continues. He is at rest. O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?

– St. Vincent and the Grenadines: lukebrowne@yahoo.com

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