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Robert "Bobby" Clarke a giant amongst men

The late Robert “Bobby” Clarke was remembered as “the people’s lawyer” in an official tribute held in Golden Square Freedom Park on Sunday, October 9th, 2022.

From as early as 6 pm dignitaries including Special Envoy on Reparations and Economic Enfranchisement, Trevor Prescod, Minister of People Empowerment Kirk Humphrey, Minister of Transport and Works, William Duguid, Prime Minister of St Vincent and the Grenadines, The Hon. Dr. Ralph Gonsalves, Former Deputy Prime Minister of Barbados, The Rt. Hon Dame Billie Miller, Cuba’s Ambassador to Barbados, Ambassador Sergio Pastrana and Venezuela’s Ambassador to Barbados, Her Excellency, Martha Ortega were all in attendance to pay tribute to the late “Bobby” Clarke who was a lawyer, humanitarian, human rights activist and revolutionary who died after a brief bout of illness at ninety-years old.

At the evening of tributes, the late Robert Bobby Clarke was not only eulogized as a revolutionary but also as a man who loved his family and who had a soft and caring nature. This was shared by his family members Emmanuel Walthers and Dijileet Diop.

“Bobby was not thinking about quieting down or even about retirement for he was defiant. He walked scruffy-haired and twinkle-eyed among all Caribbean giants. He answered to no one except the sound of injustices. Manny and I are here with you today not only to celebrate Bobby’s life force but also to share with you some little-known facts and to share how our forever-living legend grew to be the man he became to be,” she said.

They were followed by Bobby’s close friend Myrna Belgrave who noted that while Bobby did not receive any tangible awards or honour whilst he was alive, to her and to many he was ‘The Rt. Hon. Dr. Bobby Clarke'.

“At the centre of his being Bobby had a centre of values, he was loving, kind and had a tremendous sense of humour and wit. He was able to stimulate you with his intellect and imagination and that ended in action to join him in a cause. From his silent moments came wisdom and there was never a wasted insight. He was filled with zeal and enthusiasm. Of course, his love for music was also well known he loved all types of music. His main purpose in life was to create a change that would help in restoring justice to those who were experiencing injustice- the poor, the oppressed, the disadvantaged, the exploited and the underserved citizenry, as that was his purpose,” she said.

Belgrave speaking to her friend Bobby directly told him that his contribution to the Caribbean shall never be forgotten.

“Brother Bobby, I want to reassure you now that life is a continuum, and the soul never becomes extinct as it is immortal and external. As an ancestor Bobby now, you would understand that the arch will touch the justice landmark and complete its bend and your name, and your contribution will be remembered and considered significant in the awakening of liberation and self-dignity. Bobby’s extraordinary contribution was not recognized in this life as he did not receive any titles but we who stood with him and those with whom he stood would deeply honour his contribution. To us Bobby you are Dr. The Most Honourable Bobby Clarke and we know that the ancestors are waiting to welcome you on the other side shouting well done brave warrior, welcome to another level of operation and strategy and we are sure you have already received your crown of glory and titles especially as the order of the ancestral community and I hope that CARICOM will give him that title, order of the CARICOM community,” she said.

The organizer of the event and friend of the late “Bobby” Clarke, Barbados’ Ambassador to CARICOM, His Excellency, David Comissiong said Clarke was a revolutionary who had the foresight and vision to develop constituency councils, fight for the disenfranchised in society and be an unelected representative of the working class. He suggested that the Government of Barbados pay homage to the legacy of Bobby Clarke by placing something of his likeness in Golden Square Freedom Park.

“We are here this evening not to mourn Bobby but to lift up his name and to pay tribute to this great son of the Caribbean and to acknowledge the outstanding values and principles that he stood for, and we are here to claim victory on his behalf because so many things that Bobby Clarke stood for and fought for is now coming to fruition. When persons told us to move the event because of the inclement weather to Frank Collymore Hall I said no as Golden Square is Bobby’s spiritual home, this is the home of the People’s Rebellion in 1937, this is the home of Clement Osbourne Payne, and this is where Bobby Clarke belongs, and I hope that someday soon we would have a representation of Bobby Clarke in this space. We will talk to the Prime Minister about this as Bobby Clarke belongs in Golden Square Freedom Park,” he said.

The solemness of the occasion was felt in the teary-eyed tribute that was given by Peggy Nesfield who was friends with the late Robert Bobby Clarke for many years, starting in the Grenada Revolution prior to the death of the late premiere Maurice Bishop.

“He opened his home, and it became an area for progressive political thought and Caribbean unity. Many relationships were born in the home of Bobby Clarke as we met time to time to chart the way forward and the progressive moment. There is no doubt in my mind about the invaluable role that Bobby Clarke played in opposing all the attempts of imperialism and his voice still booms as a leader of the Pan-Africanist movement for Africa unity and closer ties between Africa and the Caribbean, his call for other leaders of the Caribbean to move for reparations for the descendants of Africa. Bobby thank you for the long-time commitment to the struggles of our people, thank you for your unwavering support to change the lives of our people, thank you for a lifetime of standing on the side of peace, justice and unity,” she said.

Prime Minister of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, The Hon. Dr. Ralph Gonsalves was emotional as he spoke of his love and appreciation for the late Robert Bobby Clarke and noted that there needed to be a book written to document the historical contributions of “Bobby” Clarke over the years.

“The truth is that “Bobby’s” death struck me awfully hard, my heart aches and a drowsy numbness pains my sense as though it was hemlock, I had drunk. “Bobby” was a dear friend and comrade I loved him very much. The love I had for him was an ever-fixed mark that looks at tempest and is never shaken. It is important that we remember the story of “Bobby” Clarke and we have to urge a profoundly serious historian or political scientist to author the full-length story of “Bobby” Clarke,” he said.

Gonsalves also added that Clarke is a freedom fighter whose contribution to the development of independence and sovereignty should be known throughout the Caribbean.

“Someone who has lived a long life and has participated in many of the fundamental changes in the Caribbean not only as an eyewitness and an ear witness, but he also made known his views. We must have this properly analyzed and what we hear tonight is just the preliminary first draft of Bobby Clarke. I think they are profound lessons to be learned from him and his contribution to the further upliftment for our Caribbean civilization.

Prime Minister of Barbados, The Hon. Mia Amor Mottley spoke of the significant impact Robert “Bobby” Clarke had on her and said his contribution will not be forgotten.

“I want to say to David, Trevor, David, Onphra, Babba John, Cheryl Myrna and to all of you here that you were as much as Bobby’s family as his children. The love that he had for you, and you had for him is what has brought us here today this evening. I want to say to Barbadians who are listening that if more of us would undertake and to live the principles of active citizenship of being our brothers and sisters' keeper, of not worrying if your toiling would lead to rewards but knowing fully that the mission must be accomplished. Bobby’s journey reflected that continuous journey to light in respective of how dark it got, and I would like to thank all of us for being here. On behalf of the Government and people of Barbados I say that Robert Luther Miller-Clarke was a giant among men, his heart knew no limits, his courage no boundaries but above all else, we have to simply find a way and I believe our commitment to having the concept of Builders of Barbados would capture his story so that it would inspire not just myself but others who have yet to come because they must know just as we are inspired by Toussaint L'Ouverture, Bussa, etc that among us stood a man who loved people, who heard people and who felt people. Long may the legacy of Bobby Clarke live with us and inspire us,” she said.

The celebration of the life of Bobby Clarke also had some jovial entertainment as Special Advisor on Culture and Cultural Heritage, Senator John King performed Fly Me To The Moon, Vocal powerhouse Marissa Lindsey was in excellent voice as she delivered her tribute in song, Arturo Tappin gave a beautiful performance on saxophone. But it was the performance of A Minute Silence by Winston Farrell that got the audience in a reflective mood as the poem reflected on the life of the late Robert Bobby Clarke and at the end asked persons to give a minute’s silence. (Write Right PR Services)

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