Remembering Arsene James, Educator and MP
Mr. Arsene James, the former minister of education and MP for Micoud South, unexpectedly died on Saturday. According to the prime minister, Mr. Allen Chastanet, earlier in the week Mr. James had undergone medical care in Saint Lucia before he was required to travel to Martinique to treat a tumour in his intestines and other serious ailments.
Comforting prose and warming remembrances flooded the airwaves at the sad announcement that Mr. James had passed. The callers to the various call-in shows included politicians on both sides of the political divide, as well as regular folk, former students of the deceased, and others who knew Mr. James simply as a loving and humble man.
“It is indeed a sad time for the people of Saint Lucia,” said deputy permanent secretary of the ministry of education, Michelle Charles. “All those who worked with him remember him for his humility, professionalism and dedication. He was a man of service and commited the last 60 years to service for our nation.”
Over the course of Mr. James's tenure in education, he worked and taught at several schools in the southern region of the island. When the United Workers Party was elected in 2006, he was appointed minister of education. His impact during his time as minister has been widely acknowledged, even by his opposition colleagues, among them Mr. Philip J. Pierre and Mr. Moses Jn Baptiste.
“He was a person who made a significant impact in the Micoud South constituency,” says prime minister Allen Chastanet, who replaced Mr. James as constituency representative upon his retirement in 2016 “He will be greatly missed.”
Ms Gale Rigobert, who took over the education portfolio following the 2016 general elections, said on Monday that the deceased Mr. James will be mostly remembered for “his people-centred politics”.
She added, “Whatever he embarked upon, his motivation was always the betterment of the people of his community and of this country. We all knew that that quiet disposition did not equate with his ability to bring his weight to bear on any given situation. So it is with a particular kind of grief that we mourn his loss.”
A release from the St. Lucia Labour Party said as much: “Mr James was a long-serving parliamentary representative, educator, Minister of Government and community worker who will long be remembered by the people of Saint Lucia, and Micoud in particular, for his commitment and hard work. We are sure Mr James' contribution to Saint Lucia will be etched in the memory of the people for a long time. May his soul rest in peace.”
Mr. Arsene James (pictured) was the consummate gentleman! - Prime Minister Allen Chastanet.