Address by the Hon. Dr. Kenny D. Anthony at the Official Dinner for The Most Hon. Percival J. Patterson
Address by the
Prime Minister of Saint Lucia
Dr. The Honourable Kenny D. Anthony
Official Dinner Hosted by the Prime Minister of Saint Lucia and Mrs. Anthony at the Sandals Grande St. Lucia Spa & Beach Resort
In Honour of the official visit to Saint Lucia of
The Prime Minister of Jamaica
The Most Honourable Percival J. Patterson ON, PC, OC, MP
The Moment is Now – The Legacy of PJ Patterson in the Stabilization of Caribbean Politics
In January last year, I was invited to deliver the inaugural Michael Manley Memorial Lecture and I entitled this lecture “Has the Moment Passed? – Reflections on Caribbean Integration After Michael Manley”. Tonight I am privileged to deliver – not a lecture, I assure you – but an acclaim and I am even more pleased to call it “The Moment is Now – The Legacy of PJ Patterson in the Stabilization of Caribbean Politics”.
Ladies and gentlemen, I make this juxtaposition deliberately because too often in the early evening of history, the shadows of the giants who came before exceed the measure of the men who succeeded them and who added value, depth and gave stability to their vision. PJ Patterson is one such visionary of Our Caribbean who, without the panache of a Manley, exuded the quiet confidence of a nation builder, a man of action who spoke softly but worked effectively. And in the tumultuous and difficult annals of the political history of his own native land, PJ has written his own indelible record: he is the only Prime Minister to serve four terms and be elected three times in succession, all by an electorate deemed to be among the most discriminating and indeed tribal in the entire Anglophone Caribbean.
The moment is now because we can no longer afford to pay tribute to the stalwarts of our region when they exit from the turbulence of partisan politics or depart to the great beyond. The moment is now to recognize and acclaim them. And tonight we in St. Lucia are exercising this acclaim to a man the history of the regional integration movement will record to have been a major force for stabilization, for progress, and for unity. His tenacity, his clinical intellect, his eagle perception and his predisposition for finding solutions even in the face of the most intractable obstacles have earned him a deserved reputation as a negotiator par excellence. It is this gift that made him a leading negotiator for developing countries in several regional and international fora and led Ken Chaplin to say that “Patterson has been the principal spokesman for developing countries on international issues… a consummate negotiator, Patterson has often worked behind the scene in small caucuses to help contending interests arrive at a consensus on difficult issues.”
PJ Patterson served loyally and self-effacingly under Michael Manley and was Deputy Prime Minister for many patient years. There could not have been a more different but effective amalgam – the effervescent Manley and the reticent Patterson; the rhetorical firebrand and the analytic clinician. As fire to water Manley was to Patterson; as sand on oil was Patterson to Seaga. PJ was a very different chemistry of leadership from the volatility that inflamed the politics of his growth. Where Manley was stridently vociferous; Patterson was calmly diplomatic. Where Manley was expansive and visionary; Patterson was pragmatic and consolidatory. It is the healing calm of PJ Patterson that restored Jamaica to good health following the almost civil fratricide of the late 70’s and 80’s. Some leaders paint their visions in words so large that men dream them as potential reality; others construct their visions with concrete deeds and accomplishments that men accept them as the natural dispensation of prosperity – that is the legacy of PJ Patterson.
Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen, there is a simple litmus test that the greatness of Prime Minister Patterson is totally interpolated with the common touch, genteel civility and self-effacing humility. The Jamaican Prime Minister is a recognized face of the Third World and a distinguished voice of the Caribbean that is as respected in the corridors of international power as in the ghettos of the dispossessed; yet few of all who know him can even tell his real name. He is simply and affectionately PJ and even when the stiff collar of formality constricts familiarity, he is still “P.J. Patterson”. Take the test yourself here and now – how many of you know what PJ stands for?
It is Percival James Patterson – that most honorable son of Jamaica, humble servant of the constituency of Westmoreland, and the longest serving Prime Minister among the current leaders in our region. PJ has been recognized as a thoughtful and analytical mind whose capacity to focus on the incisive issues is legendary. No Caribbean leader since the founding fathers has presided over CARICOM with the sagacity of Percival Patterson.
Prime Minister Patterson, as you ponder about the future, we wanted to make sure that you were introduced in the flesh to the people of St. Lucia and that we took this opportunity to place on record our deep, sincere and abiding appreciation of all that you have resolutely stood for and all that you have unrelentingly fought for. In this middle parish of the Caribbean Community that is St. Lucia, know and accept that your people acclaim you.
Ladies and gentlemen, I ask that you join me in a toast to the Right Honorable Percival James Patterson, son of Jamaica and servant of the Caribbean.
Allow me to end by quoting – not in full – a poem by Rudyard Kipling that, more than anything I have found written, summarizes the life, work and commitment of PJ Patterson:
IF by Rudyard Kipling
If you can keep your head
while others all around you are losing theirs
and blaming it on you
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you
But make allowance for their doubting too
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting
Or being lied about; don’t deal in lies
Or being hated; don’t give way to hating
And yet don’t look too good nor talk too wise
If you can dream and not make dreams your master
If you can think and not make thoughts your aim
If you can meet with triumph and disaster
And treat those two imposters just the same
If you can bear to hear the truth that you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools
Or watch the things you gave your life to broken
And stoop and build them up with worn out tools…
…If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue
Or walk with Kings nor lose the common touch
If neither foes not loving friends can hurt you
If all men count with you; but none too much
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds worth of distance run
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it
And, which is more, you’ll be a Man, my son.
PJ Patterson – you have kept your head when many around you were losing theirs; you have kept the dream alive but not made dreams your master; you have talked with crowds and kept your virtue, walked with Kings but not lost the common touch… and you have filled the unforgiving minute of your political life with sixty seconds well and truly run…
And yours has been the Jamaican earth and the Caribbean Sea and which is more, you have been a true and quintessential Caribbean Man!!
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