Tribute to Ramphal


Ramphal ‘at home’ in Barbados
By Rickey Singh


BRIDGETOWN -- Sir Shridath Ramphal, long hailed as an "elder statesman of the Caribbean", has finally settled into permanent residence in Barbados which he had identified for his retiring years way back in 1975.

As he was leaving his native Guyana in 1975 to become Secretary General of the Commonwealth, the former Attorney General and Foreign Minister in the then Forbes Burnham government, was encouraged by Barbados' then Foreign Minister and Attorney General, now Sir Henry Forde, to purchase a spot of land and think of living, eventually in this country.

Now 77, and having distinguished himself and the Caribbean at many international fora, the former Chancellor of the University of the West Indies -- a post he held for 14 years -- and Chairman of the West Indian Commission of the 1990s -- said he welcomed and acted on the advice of "my good friend, Henry".

Man searching for Ramphal and Jagdeo.

Currently, in addition to a range of consultancies, he is part of a team of distinguished legal experts chosen by the Guyana Government to represent its case in a maritime boundary dispute with neighbouring Suriname through the process of the U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea -- similar to that between Barbados and Trinidad and Tobago.

A virtual household name within CARICOM, Ramphal would be as well known in government/political circles in Africa, Asia, North America and Europe as any of the more outstanding political leaders, technocrats and lawmakers of the English-speaking Caribbean.

Having served the Commonwealth as Secretary General for 15 years, he was to spend an equal number of years in various capacities in the service of the CARICOM region. These would include his years as UWI Chancellor, Chairman of the West Indian Commission and head of the Caribbean Regional Negotiating Machinery (CRNM).

He was among the first three CARICOM nationals to be awarded with the community's highest honour -- Order of Caribbean Community (OCC), the other two being the now late William Demas, and the noble laureate Derek Walcott.

The OCC entitles its recipients with, among other privileges, permanent residence anywhere within CARICOM with rights associated with those of its citizens.

Ramphal has really been constantly moving in and out of Barbados since around 1983. Here is where members of his close family have been living for some years. Among them would be his 96-year-old mother; his two sons and his sister.

As a national of CARICOM, the integration movement of which he was among its architects from the inception, Ramphal considers himself to be "with the Caribbean family at large" even as he has now finally settled into living in Barbados permanently.

Friday, April 21, 2006