For the second time in less than a year, there have been unsubstantiated rumours of former Prime Minister Owen Arthur’s demise.
And just as he was forced to do last November, Arthur today sought to publicly quell vicious reports, circulating on social media, of his death.
Ironically, it was only yesterday that Arthur had raised the issue of his own mortality during an interview with Barbados TODAY, in which he said he was forced to seriously reflect on his life in general, following a recent vehicular accident.
“I was absolutely sure I was going to die,” he said of his collision on December 21 with a ZR van at Wanstead, St James.
“The guy came around the corner so fast that I had to commit myself to coming out of a junction . . . I saw him and he was coming at such a pace that he could not stop and I swerved at the last minute to avoid being hit full on,” Arthur recalled, while complaining that private public service vehicles in Barbados drive too fast at peak hours.
Having survived this brush with fate, a thankful Arthur, who was forced to seek private medical attention for neck and back pains in the immediate aftermath of the accident, chuckled saying: “That wasn’t going to take me. I am in good health. I manage my health in the hope that I could live many, many years.”
However, while acknowledging that he was now at the exact age at which this island’s founding father Errol Barrow died, the 67-year-old former Prime Minister said he was forced to consider his own mortality from time to time.
It was in that context that he also sought to downplay recent suggestions of him making one last political comeback, even though he left the question of his political future hanging high in the air.
“I will offer Barbados my advice but I make a distinction between being powerful and power hungry,” he said when asked by Barbados TODAY if he planned to run for political office again.
“I do not have to have my hands on the wheels to be influential or powerful. I have a voice and I can make my voice heard and the notion I have is to always be in the trenches . . . and I will make those judgements in due course.
“In any event, I don’t have a party to run with. I don’t. And there is no virtue in being an independent candidate. I am not going to be an independent candidate. That is being a spoiler. I am not a member of either of the two political parties. I have not thrown in my lot with the third party that is being formed, so I am a man without a political home. And at the last count, I seem to recall that it is a majority to be able to constitute a Government and I take all of these things into consideration. I really do,” he explained, even though he had previously indicated that the 2013 election campaign would have been his last, and would have since given his blessing to his BLP successor in St Peter Colin Jordan.
However, after nearly 40 years in public life, Arthur, who is the island’s longest serving Member of Parliament since the attainment of adult suffrage in 1951, acknowledged that “there is always that allure of a person in St Peter canvassing that is so well treated by the people and the temptation to continue that good treatment is always there”.
And though his primary political interest was still to safeguard Barbados’ general well-being, he said he was certainly not interested in having a career reset at this stage.
“I feel fulfilled and to give 40 years to representative politics in Barbados is to go beyond what any politician has ever done,” said Arthur, who is currently establishing himself as a regional consultant as a fellow of the University of the West Indies.
In fact, he proclaimed that “I have a life . . . and I would love to be able to have a life in Barbados after politics . . . [since] in my adult life I have only spent 18 months outside of politics”.
From a personal perspective, Arthur also said, “I have a young family and I have folks that want me to live . . . On Sundays I go walking with my grand daughter and she looks forward to that, and my daughter was very clear, she said, ‘daddy, I would like my children to know you’, and those things matter, they really do,” he told Barbados TODAY, while suggesting that any decision to continue on in politics would have to made with the approval of his daughter Leah and his grand daughter Isabelle.