A TRIB­UTE BY HON. DR. KENNY D. AN­THONY PRIME MIN­IS­TER AT THE OF­FI­CIAL FU­NERAL OF HUNTER J. FRANÇOIS

The Star (St. Lucia) - - LOCAL -

Hunter J Fran­cois has been de­scribed in many ways: a re­nais­sance man; a man cast far beyond his time; a man of im­pec­ca­ble prose and dic­tion; an icon of im­mense com­plex­ity.

I will add no more but sim­ply say that with­out ques­tion, he was a good and just soul, and man of his own tune. He was guarded, ul­ti­mately, by wor­thy prin­ci­ples and fas­tid­i­ous in­tel­lect.

His fam­ily would at­test, I am sure, that he could well be rather strong minded in his ways and wis­doms. Of course, I speak, to­day, us­ing mild words in­deed!

His tenac­ity harkened a pro­found res­o­nance in Si­na­tra’s “I did it my way,” a melody, I am sure, he must have played and en­joyed, if not on his pi­ano, through his daily will and deeds.

Hunter had a rare, search­ing, and pow­er­ful in­tel­lect, some might even say, a pe­cu­liar in­tel­lect. His thirst for knowl­edge was never quenched. Like Sir Arthur Lewis, he be­lieved in the trans­for­ma­tive power of ed­u­ca­tion. In his case, I would say that he was not just pas­sion­ate but fa­nat­i­cal in his mis­sion to ed­u­cate our peo­ple.

And he had an abil­ity to set in­tel­lec­tual eyre to­wards paths for na­tional im­prove­ment, ad­vance­ment and ac­tu­al­i­sa­tion: for the mind and for the over­all con­di­tion of his hu­man brethren.

It is him we in Saint Lu­cia owe many a debt, though of­ten not charged against our short mem­o­ries.

And thank­fully, the re­sul­tant achieve­ments of his ef­forts have been told to the en­tire na­tion, on all forms of me­dia, es­pe­cially so­cial me­dia, that our peo­ple can now more fully grasp the good that he ac­com­plished. It is pleas­ing that they have fol­lowed the tes­ti­mony of oth­ers with deep in­ter­est.

It is an in­ter­est paid in grat­i­tude, ad­mi­ra­tion, and hope­fully, in mem­ory yet to come.

To­day, as a na­tion, we say “thank you.”

We say “thank you” for his ex­am­ple of be­ing the quin­tes­sen­tial in­tel­lect of his time. In­deed, we should amor­tise our in­debt­ed­ness to him by fol­low­ing his ex­am­ples – of fear­less­ness, of hon­esty, of con­vic­tion, of hunger for knowl­edge, of thirst for jus­tice and eq­uity.

And yet, even to­day, there is that sal­low lament of think­ing, “what if” we had em­braced Hunter’s vi­sion more fully? Just pause for a mo­ment and con­sider:

“What if” our pol­i­tics was more prin­ci­pled and fol­lowed by the cit­i­zenry with a search for good poli­cies and not im­me­di­ate, ma­te­rial prize?

“What if” Hunter had be­come a Prime Min­is­ter?

“What if” Hunter’s vi­sion of a state with­out di­vi­sion and with common, de­ter­mined pur­pose and mis­sion had ma­te­ri­alised?

Hunter Fran­cois was never about per­sonal plea or am­bi­tion. He would put him­self last, for Saint Lu­cia to be first.

In Hunter, we might sur­mise that pol­i­tics should re­main a means to an end, a means to­wards bet­ter­ment of all, and not the end of us all. Ver­i­ta­bly, we might even quip that Hunter and Pol­i­tics re­ally were not friends at all.

And de­spite any dis­en­chant­ment he may have had, it was not be­cause of any per­sonal de­feat, but in the belief that Saint Lu­cia could have been so much fur­ther along in de­vel­op­ment of its great­est re­source, its young peo­ple. He too knew that Saint Lu­cia could have been the “Athens of the Caribbean.”

To­day, the cel­e­brant re­minds us, is a day of thanks­giv­ing:

Thanks­giv­ing for the many sec­ondary schools he helped con­ceive;

Thanks­giv­ing for the Saint Lu­cia School of Mu­sic;

Thanks­giv­ing for our acrop­o­lis of learn­ing, the Sir Arthur Lewis Com­mu­nity Col­lege;

Thanks­giv­ing for the works he penned;

Thanks­giv­ing for the gifts of his fam­ily;

Thanks­giv­ing for his demon­stra­tion of hon­esty in po­lit­i­cal life;

Thanks­giv­ing for his long

life;

Thanks­giv­ing for the many peo­ple he in­spired through the shar­ing of his mind, his mu­sic, his quiet and ma­jes­tic might.

At this com­mence­ment of Hunter into the con­stel­la­tion of our Saint Lu­cian Greats, our pan­theon is brighter, richer, more em­bel­lished by him.

With faith and fer­vour, we con­fer him to his Lord, to his par­adise, into the fir­ma­ment, and into the place pre­pared for him for all ages.

In the words of Au­den, for many in his fam­ily who loved him so dearly, “he was your north, your south, your east, your west, your work­ing week and your Sun­day rest.” Most of all, he was your north­ern star, your moral com­pass fixed high in the sky.

For the na­tion, we pe­ti­tion his mem­ory:

Let the young on the Morne learn him, and the mu­si­cians of Ta­pion ser­e­nade him.

Let Choiseul own him and Monchy mourn him.

Let the beach that bears his name ebb low for him this night’s tide.

Let the white egrets over Bois D’Orange carry him in flight and find evening light on this day’s flight.

Let Marc­hand miss him and Castries salute him.

Let the hills of Morne du Don re­mem­ber him.

Let the melodies of song and the Caribbean shore rise to meet him and play to him al­ways.

Let him find still wa­ters and fresh breeze in his land, Saint Lu­cia, which he loved and adored so very much, to the end.

And as the an­cient hymn gives com­fort, we all might say:

Ah! That day of tears and mourn­ing

From the dust of earth re­turn­ing

Man for judg­ment must pre­pare him

Spare, O God, in mercy spare him. [Dies Irae, Day of Wrath]

Play on Hunter, undis­turbed forever­more, your bliss­ful sym­phonies, odes and keys of love, of hon­esty, of free­dom.

And then, be calm my friend, be still and rest per­pet­u­ally in eter­nal peace.

For­mer min­is­ter Hunter Fran­cois’ fu­neral cer­e­mony took place at the La Clery Catholic Church.

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