Death of Sir James ‘leaves a hole in our hearts’ – Dr Friday
Sir James Fitz-Allen Mitchell is gone but his exploits make sure he will never be forgotten.
So says leader of the New Democratic Party (NDP) Dr Godwin Friday who paid tribute to Sir James, the NDP’s founder while speaking during a virtual press conference on Tuesday, November 23.
Sir James died on Tuesday morning in Bequia at the Port Elizabeth Hospital.
The former premier and prime minister of St Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) had been ailing for several weeks and returned home last Thursday from Barbados where he had been hospitalised.
Born on May 15, 1931, Sir James was first elected to Parliament in 1966. He formed the New Democratic Party in 1975 and in 1984 led his Party to a 10-3 victory over the St Vincent Labour Party. He was the nation’s second prime minister and served as head of Government until 2000 when he retired.
Dr Friday said Sir James’s passing “leaves a hole in our hearts” and one can never fully prepare for an event of this nature “no matter how you think you would deal with it.”
He had known Sir James since he (Dr Friday) was a child and the former prime minister had been a part of the Grenadines community not only by presence, but through various activities.
“Over the years his exploits have become part of the folklore and the storytelling of our community in Bequia because he has accomplished so much.
“He was a great nation builder. Since the mid 1960’s he was part of the politics of our nation,” Dr. Friday said.
He added, “during that time he did it all politically between 1966 to 2001. As Minister of Agriculture in the Labour Government between 1967 and 1972 he formed a vision that started the transformation of agriculture and land owning in our country.
“He founded our great political party, the New Democratic Party in 1975 and led it into government in 1984. He accomplished so much for this country including for his beloved constituency, first off the Grenadines and of course after it was split into two later, the Northern Grenadines,” Dr. Friday told listeners.
The opposition leader said many persons would be forever grateful for Sir James as he was and remains one of the most respected and balanced political leaders of the Caribbean region.
“He was the consummate Caribbean man who was passionate about Caribbean integration, about Caribbean unity, about forging a Caribbean-ness.
“His voice could not be ignored and was always taken seriously and he was respected internationally as well; he was known and respected internationally. Sir James had a powerful intellect that was put to great use throughput his long productive life.
“His commitment to leaning, to writing, to imparting knowledge to others cannot be doubted or questioned.
“He did this up to the very end sending those of us in his circle various articles and things he thought we needed to know about,” Dr. Friday commented.
He said also that Sir James’s intellectual curiosity kept his mind sharp right to the end.
“He has left the stage, but he is not gone from us because he has left such a rich legacy that for a long time he will remain a part of us,” Dr. Friday noted.
He added, “…all those people from throughout the country who remember all the things that they can accredit Sir James for, for the accomplishment during government, for the consideration, the assistance that he has given to so many privately; those things will continue to live on”.
He said that he had spoken to Sir James’s daughters Sabrina, Gretel, Louise and Gabija and the nation mourns with them.
“Much more will be said not just by me but by others who admired and interacted with Sir James here in St. Vincent and throughout the region,” Dr. Friday said.