Tribute to Sir Fred Albert Phillips
by R. T. Luke V. Browne
March 4, 2011
Sir Fredâs 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 âlittle black boyâ went to the prestigious Grammar School to learn? A âcountry boyâ was at ease in colonial city? A âsmall-islanderâ 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 UWIâs 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 wasnât 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 âcontrived to live a regional rather than an insular existenceâ. 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 lifeâs 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: âWhat contribution have I made towards the welfare of my fellowman in general and my family in particular on my way through life?â He didnât 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 Fredâs 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: [email protected]