Almost as if purposefully dropped within in the crosshair of street fruit markets, where wafting sounds of reggae compete with countless conversations, and, perhaps, providing a much needed smile in defence to the insurmountable poverty and stray dogs within pocket distance, stands a monument to Antigua Pride – the memory of a son who rose from obscurity to prominence.
Born December 9th 1909, Vere Cornwall Bird received a basic elementary education, yet with his wits, he trained in Trinidad with the Salvation Army attaining the rank of Captain. This was much to the chagrin of his older peers.
Introducing Tourism & Legacy of Independence
We was a man of the people. Being first elected the Executive of the Antigua Trades and Labour Union, and in 1960, being appointed the First Chief Minister of Antigua. He is introduces tourism to the island.
In 1967, he is the country’s first Premier after Antigua gains independence from Britain. In 1981, with Antigua now an independent nation, and secure in his legacy, Bird becomes the first Prime Minister of his country. Retiring in 1994, he peacefully passes away in June of 1999, at the ripe age of 89 years.
The island prides itself on having 366 beaches (one for every day of the year, plus one). I opt for exploring outside the clichés of pina coladas. I randomly happen upon the monument, after just being verbally profiled as, ‘Hey, white boy!’ by a motley of local roustabouts. All of my jitters strangely subside.
I read the accompanying plaque. This commemoration is touching for a seemingly beloved man. Especially when I realize that his wide gaze, so dynamically and purposely looking outward, points to a two-floor Burger King across the street. Great Scott, two Whoppers for the price of one?!
Many thanks, Mr. Bird.