A man of outstanding intellect who wielded a sharp tongue, but above all, was a strong believer in family.
That’s how former Government minister Donville Inniss has described former Prime Minister Owen Arthur, who passed away recently.
Arthur, Barbados’ longest-serving Prime Minister died on July 27 at the age of 70.
Speaking to Barbados TODAY from his home in Tampa, Florida, Inniss who served as Minister of Industry, International Business, Commerce and Small Business Development, credited Arthur for his early political development.
“My first real engagement with Owen Authur was around 1995 when as PM he visited NYC and toured the Government of Barbados office where I worked as a young officer. Our private engagement was one that was quite colorful and in a language that my family and friends in Skeete’s Bay fish market best understood. But it was also one that started a bond between us as country boys who dared to enter the political arena.
“Over the years I have endured some proper lashes from Owen on and off the political field but always in a manner that exemplified that it was not too personal and designed to guide you,” Inniss recalled.
“As an economist he took his discipline as a true profession to be well-practiced and never missed a chance to give us free tutorials in this complex area. In many respects, he saw the entire island and the region as his classroom. He was never condescending but willing to engage. His contribution to redirecting and reshaping the post-1990 Barbados and Caribbean’s social, political and economic landscape remains the envy of even the most enlightened.”
Inniss revealed that as Arthur’s parliamentary representative for ten years, he had much respect for him.
He said while Arthur’s intellect was admired by all, it was his love for his family which stood out most.
“As a young MP, I respected Arthur’s sharp tongue and his equally immense intellect that in latter years reflected more that of a statesman than a party politician. He forced us on both sides of the Chamber to think deeply and not to come with intellectually substandard arguments. As his parliamentary representative for ten years, our only major dispute centered around my public admission that he voted for me. His main grouse was that true or not, I should have kept quiet. He claimed that I had learnt too much from him,” Inniss said.
“Outside of the difficult and unkind world of party politics, Arthur found solace and joy in his family, especially his daughters whom he loved more than politics. Every conversation we have had over the past few years have commenced with a brief discourse on our children and the toll politics can take on maintaining a good family life. He was indeed driven to do well for his party and his island in great part due to his desire to create and sustain a better place for his children, grand children and family as well.
“Owen Arthur never sought fame nor fortune – he simply sought to do the best for his island and the region. No one, regardless of political stripes, can say other than that Owen Arthur excelled in his commitment, work and passion to duty. Barbados has been richer for his vision and his leadership,” Inniss added.