Sir Inniss Probyn Speaks At Annual Requiem Mass
Photo By Erasmus Williams
Bassaterre, St. Kitts – Nevis
June 04, 2009 (CUOPM)
“Like all great men in history Mr. (Robert Llewellyn) Bradshaw was misunderstood by those living in his time. However, time the great healer, is restoring the balance and history will continue to absolve and vindicate him.”
So says historian and former Governor of the twin-island Federation, Sir Probyn Inniss, who was at the time delivering the feature address at the annual Requiem Mass to pay tribute to late leaders of the Labour Movement in St. Kitts and Nevis.
“Much has been written about Mr. Bradshaw, as trade unionist, politician, Caribbean visionary and a statesman. A great deal of what has been written bears the mark of divisive party politics intended to distort, discredit and destroy a political opponent. Such writings from intellectual perspectives often do not seek to present a fair and balanced view of the man or his character,” said Sir Probyn told a packed St. Paul’s Anglican Church, where Bradshaw was baptised 93 years ago.
He said that it was fitting that the focus should be on the life and legacy of the Right Excellent Sir Robert Llewellyn Bradshaw.
“It is not just that Comrade Bradshaw had such an illustrious career in which he made a unique and enduring contribution to our country, but I dare say even in death, his stature and reputation continue to grow. It is a hallmark of his greatness as a leader that our sense of loss grows deeper with each passing year,” Sir Probyn.
“In his time he was viewed by some as a rebel. He was the rebel who wished to change the social, political and economic status quo which existed at the time. Hence, he was hated, scoffed at, despised by some who viewed the Labour Movement as a threat to their status, to their way of life and to the resulting privileges which they enjoyed,” he said.
“To such persons he was a member of the uneducated or under- educated masses, who refused to know or keep their place and who were foolish enough to think that he could inspire the working masses in the vain belief that they, through uniting their efforts could improve their lot by Committing to the Labour Movement for the social and political advancement of themselves and of their children,” said the former Governor, who noted however that “few men have been more vilified or caricatured in their life time than Robert Bradshaw was. However, time the great healer, is restoring the balance and history will continue to absolve and vindicate him.”
Referring to Bradshaw as his “real life hero”, Sir Probyn said Mr. Bradshaw had a stern appearance and sometimes, it was even intimidating, but those who got close enough to know him found him to be loyal, kind and generous. On his overseas trips, even when preoccupied with matters of State, he made time to hunt for his beloved antiques and to shop for his many, many friends.
“Mr. Bradshaw had numerous friends at home and abroad. However, he never forsook the old for the new. One of the things that endeared him to his followers and friends is that he never forgot his roots. He was always able it seems to me to inspire his people in positive ways. He inspired them to be the best that they could be. He walked with kings but he never lost the “the common touch.” This was the friendly and generous gentleman who befriended me, motivated me and mentored me from my teenage years to adulthood, and who showered me with such generosity and love as if I were his natural born son,” said Sir Probyn.
Sir Probyn, a practicing barrister noted that the closer he got to Bradshaw, the better he was able to appreciate Bradshaw’s true character and the effective leadership which he demonstrated for such a long time.
He continued: “After thirty years in public office, respect for this man and confidence in his leadership, remained undiminished. One of the lessons we learn from Comrade Bradshaw’s life and the enduring success which he achieved is that Leadership is not about position, it is about character.
The character of an individual determines his or her leadership.
What are some of the attributes of this remarkable man?
Honesty and Integrity, throughout his long life, there was never any allegation of dishonesty or misbehaviour made against Mr. Bradshaw.
Secondly, his Pride and Dignity, he took immense pride in his African heritage and this reflected itself in the way he carried himself – always a man of dignity.
Thirdly, his love for Country and Commitment to it. This communicated itself to the people generally and they had the assurance that he would always protect and promote their best interest – never in doubt that he was an honourable man who would protect the best interest of his country not just now but for the future.
Fifthly, his respect for Self and for every Individual however lowly. He would often say to me “They may not like me, but they will have to respect me!” And he was a man who respected himself, demanded respect and respected everybody.
His Sense of Duty and Honour – He believed in the motto “Noblesse oblige” (Rank has its obligations). As a consequence he disciplined himself, because he was always conscious that there were some things he should not and could not say and behaviours which he could not indulge in. There were some things he just could not do he had to be the model.
He insisted on High Standards. He set high standards for himself and demanded the same of public servants and others around him. He was extremely intolerant of sloppiness and incompetence.
Mr. Bradshaw was essentially a man of principle. This quality endeared him to friend and foe alike. He stood firm for what he believed. He modeled standards and behaviour which he expected of others. There was consistency between his words and his deeds. As a consequence, his supporters found him to be trustworthy and dependable.”