by Robert A Emmanuel
Antiguan and Barbudan youth would benefit by learning from past political activists like Leonard ‘Tim’ Hector, local commentators say.
Following the recent headlines related to the Antigua and Barbuda Gospel Music and Media Awards (ABGMA) and an award for social activism given to social media influencer, J’Truth, which bore Hector’s name, Observer media sought out those closest to the late activist and studied his works on this matter.
Today would have been Hector’s 80th birthday, and to mark the occasion, Observer mediaspoke to two political experts about the life of the political firebrand and journalist who died in 2002.
In response to why Tim Hector matters in today’s society both Dr James Knight and Dr Radcliffe Robbins explained that some of the country’s major policy initiatives that benefit youth today could be traced back to Hector’s ideas.
“No political idea, current in Antigua at this point in time, was not promulgated by Leonard Tim Hector,” Dr Robbins said, alluding to two key policies — a school meals and a school uniform programme — both of which were instituted under the United Progressive Party (UPP) administration.
The National School Meals Programme was created by the UPP in 2005 in order to provide students from less fortunate families with meals during the school day.
The National School Uniform Grant programme was also created that year, mainly to supply students with school uniforms for public schools around the island.
Born on November 24 1942, Leonard Hector, called “Tim” by his grandfather, was the founder of the weekly newspaper, the Outlet, where in his column ‘Fan the Flames’ he often argued for the political development of the country and brought transparency to the public on government activity and corruption.
Dr Robbins argued that there needs to be more civil education for youth about the political history of Antigua and Barbuda
“As an Antiguan citizen, I learned nothing about Antigua and Barbuda in school; everything that I know about the history of Antigua and Barbuda I have had to learn it on my own.
“This is part of the beauty and wonder of the teaching of Leonard Tim Hector; [he] grounded himself and grounded us in our history, our Africanity and in our Caribbean oneness,” Dr Robbins explained.
He added that, “I believe that if our young people became exposed more to his ideas and teachings, it would chart an easier course into the future where we ought to be.
“Tim was about educating people to be self-sufficient and to organise themselves to make decisions and have power over their lives in the country.”
Dr Knight noted that some youths have become less interested in educating themselves in this regard and argued that the education system needs serious reform.
The works of Tim Hector which can be found online, according to Dr Robbins, would be a valuable resource for students interested in learning more.
Meanwhile, preparations for next year’s Leonard Tim Hector Memorial Lecture are underway, according to Dr Knight, who said the pandemic along with logistical challenges prevented it being held in recent years.
The Leonard Tim Hector Memorial Lecture is an annual event featuring notable speakers who have previously included Prime Minister of St Vincent and the Grenadines, Dr Ralph Gonsalves, and Vice-Chancellor of the University of the West Indies, Sir Hilary Beckles.