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The best of times and at times, the worst

Monday, April 14, 2014

It is a strange, disconcerting feeling when a happy memory suddenly pops into your head during a moment of grave sadness. That’s how I felt last week when I learned that former Prime Minister Arthur NR Robinson had died. Some of the fondest memories I have of the 30 years I have spent in T&T come from the time Mr Robinson held office. Both my children were born after Robinson became Prime Minister. 


My daughter, Ijanaya, was born in 1987. Just a year before, on the day before Robinson’s 60th birthday, the National Alliance of Reconstruction (NAR) had defeated the PNM and incumbent PNM Prime Minister George Chambers by a resounding vote: 33-3. 


That time, defined by great hope and a feeling of co-operation that transcended race, ethnicity and even political parties, seemed like a miracle. A sweeping victory suggested we were all on the same page. Everyone seemed to realise that we had to work together to change this country for the better. T&T became a nation bubbling with happiness and optimism—and I don’t use the term “nation” loosely. 


Until that moment in time, I had thought of T&T as a bad marriage. Here, now, with a son of Tobago soil as Prime Minister, was proof that the two islands really did exist as one nation. I always felt that Prime Minister Robinson instilled a sense of grace and dignity into the position of Prime Minister. He never appeared to be haughty or pompous. This, I always thought, had to be an amazing feat for someone who had the middle name of Napoleon.