On 30th December, 2010, the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago lost its first President,, Sir Ellis Clarke and on 2nd January, 2011, Montserrat lost its Chief Minister and longest-serving statesman, Dr. John Osborne.
In his message to Montserrat, the St. Kitts-Nevis Opposition Party Leader noted that, “Osborne had a long and illustrious career in public service that was characterized, on the regional level, by his fervent championship of the voice of the smaller islands at the regional negotiating table.”
The letter further highlighted that, “Osbourne was defined by his, undoubtedly correct, insistence on proper respect and recognition of all Caribbean Community (CARICOM) states on an equal footing.”
“His tenure both in government and in opposition was characterized by an appreciation of the importance of allowing the people to fully exercise their will on subjects of high public importance even on matters about which he felt strongly such as political independence.”
Mr. Grant’s letter to the People of Trinidad and Tobago emphasised Sir Ellis’ contribution to the development of not only Trinidad and Tobago but the region.
The letter read, “Sir Ellis was of that great generation of Caribbean patriots that steered our fledgling nations through the turbulent era in the first half of the twentieth century and blazed the trail that retired colonialism to the history books.”
The letter continued, “Like many of his contemporaries Sir Ellis made his mark not only on local or even regional political development but represented ably Caribbean men and women as the equal of any others through distinguished careers in international diplomacy. Even in his private practice in constitutional law Sir Ellis stood out from the crowd of experts and was recognized throughout the commonwealth for his wealth of knowledge.”
Grant continued, “I know that even in sadness you and the government and citizens of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago can reminisce with pride about the sterling accomplishments of this remarkable man over the course of a long and successful life.”
Sir Ellis was the last Governor General and First President of Trinidad and Tobago and a towering figure on the Trinidad and Tobago landscape. He helped lead the country to independence. His passing will be felt not only in Trinidad and Tobago, but around the world. He was an Ambassador, a humble public servant and the consummate statesman.