By Renwick Rose
Though we are all aware that the ravages of time will eventually bring our time on earth to a close, yet we cannot help but express profound sadness at the passing of one dear to us. This feeling is even stronger when that person has made a significant contribution to the lives of his brothers and sisters, not only in his own homeland but of oppressed peoples all over the world.
This is the case with Barbadian patriot and revolutionary, Robert “Bobby” Clarke who died on Sunday, September 26 at the ripe age of 90. A lawyer by profession, “Bobby” dedicated his life to the upliftment and betterment of not just poor and oppressed Barbadians but also their counterparts in the rest of the Caribbean and the world.
He was a noted Pan Africanist and spent a great deal of his time towards lifting the consciousness of his brothers and sisters about the source of their plight and urging them to organize to end such oppression. He was an ardent advocate of Caribbean unity and reparations for victims of genocide against indigenous people, slavery and colonialism.
“Bobby’s commitment was manifested in the efforts that he made personally to help to foster and develop the progressive movement in the rest of the region. His experience, alongside that of the revered Eusi Kwayana and Cheddi Jagan of Guyana, was vital in helping to guide those of us such as the late Maurice Bishop of Grenada, Tim Hector of Antigua, Makandal Daaga (Geddes Granger) of Trinidad, Bill Riviere and Rosie Douglas of Dominica and Vincentians like Dr Ralph Gonsalves, Mike Browne, the late Caspar London and myself.
In addition, “Bobby” put his legal skills at the service of the Barbadian working class and poor. He was a strong supporter of the trade union movement. Those skills were also put at the service of Caribbean people. He defended victims of persecution in several Caribbean territories and also personally hosted several meetings aimed at building the progressive movement in the Caribbean.
His Pan Africanism gave him the name of the “Bajan Black Power man” and he was for many years the backbone of the solidarity movement with the African liberation movement and with African Liberation Day activities. He must have felt some satisfaction in seeing Barbados put aside the monarchical garb and become a Republic last year.
“Bobby” was truly an outstanding Caribbean patriot to whom we ought to pay homage. A great innings, Bobby!