Naming of the National Insurance Building
In honour of Sir Clifford Darling
Baillou Hill Road
Thursday 30th November, 2006
There is no individual living in our country today who is more deserving of the honour that is bestowed in the naming of this building than Sir Clifford Darling.
Sir Clifford can claim the singular distinction of being
the first ever Minister of National Insurance in our country’s history.
He is also justly revered by all Bahamians as one of the great lions of the labouring masses.
It may not be well known to younger generations of Bahamians but the indisputable fact is that with the single possible exception of the late Sir Randol Fawkes; there is no more important a figure in development of the modern trade union movement than Sir Clifford.
Indeed, in the greatest single episode in Bahamian trade union history; namely the great General Strike of 1958; Sir Clifford Darling was the leader of The Bahamas Taxi Cab Union.
He was the primary protagonist in this great drama.
It was a drama that would serve as the catalyst in the momentous political changes of the 1960s, which eventually led to the coming of Majority Rule.
Perhaps his historic role is less well known because of the extreme modesty and humility of the man.
He was always a quiet warrior driven only by an ambition
to be of service to others.
Sir Clifford has always tended to leave the limelight to others, contenting himself instead with the private satisfaction of knowing that he had given of his best in the struggle for political economic and social justice for his brothers and sisters in the labour movement and in the country at large.
The records of history will show that the courage, perseverance and determination of Sir Clifford Darling served as an inspiring example.
He was a shining light to his fellow taxi cab drivers and to all those hundreds of other activists who joined in a united front against economic injustice and oppression.
We have to constantly remind ourselves that this was in 1958 that we are talking about. That was nearly fifty years ago, when The Bahamas was a radically different place than it now is.
Nowadays, our hard won freedoms are deeply ingrained.
So deeply ingrained our these freedoms now, that we are not in any way taken aback when someone or some group takes a bold stand against the status quo.
Back in 1958, however, it was a different story.
It took guts, real guts to stand up and speak out against the injustices of the time.
It took even more courage to do what Clifford Darling
He and his colleagues in the Taxi Cab Union in The Bahamas decided to put their entire livelihoods and the livelihoods of their families on the line in order to press the fight against injustice and oppression.
When we look back now and examine the courage and tactical resourcefulness and stickability of these brave men and women, it cannot but fill us all with a boundless admiration and respect for them.
Sir Clifford’s importance to our country has also been reflected in the other high offices to which he ascended during his career as a servant of the people.
He was one of the longest serving Parliamentarians in our modern history, serving initially in the Senate as the first PLP Senator following the constitutional advances in 1964.
From the Senate, his service then extended into a lengthy
and distinguished period as a representative in the Honourable House of
All those years in the House, Sir Clifford represented the people of what would become best known as the Englerston Constituency.
He also gave distinguished service as a member of the Cabinet of Sir Lynden Pindling as the Minister responsible for Labour and National Insurance.
He served further with great distinction as Speaker of the Honourable House of Assembly for many years.
During his time as Speaker, Sir Clifford earned the respect and admiration of both sides of the political divide for his decency and sensed of fair play.
Following this phase of his public life, Sir Clifford was raised to the highest station attainable by any citizen in our land when Her Majesty the Queen was pleased to appoint him as Governor General of our nation.
In this capacity Sir Clifford demonstrated once again
that great spirit of human decency.
In fact, that spirit of human decency has always been the hallmark of his personality.
As Governor General, he proved himself a friend to all manner of persons, no matter their station or calling in life.
His kindness, passion and sensitivity to the needs of others were qualities that he exhibited throughout his distinguished tenure as Governor General.
Notwithstanding what became at one time a particularly challenging experience, he performed his duties with dignity, grace and humility in a way that endeared him to all sectors of our society.
Perhaps I should also add that since retiring from public life Sir Clifford Darling has also demonstrated that he has another important gift; namely the ability to capture his memories and to articulate them in a way that will preserve them for posterity.
I refer of course to the excellent autobiography that Sir Clifford has published with the assistance of Patty Roker.
To those of you who have not read his book, I highly commend
it to you as an important social document. It is a moving and powerful
story which traces the growth and development of a poor young boy from
Chester’s Acklins all the way through the momentous changes of the 40s,
50s, and 60s to the high offices of state that he would later hold, all
the way to the highest office in the land.
It is a wonderful story of how dreams can be realised when one is not afraid to dream big and to work with passion and integrity in the service of high ideals.
Sir Clifford is now in the golden years of his life, having fought the good fight for so long on so many different fronts.
He now relaxes from his labours and is enjoying a richly
And may I say in that regard how fortunate Sir Clifford is to have by his side his charming wife Lady Igrid Darling, whom I should add, is a published author in her own right, having written a wonderful and useful book on the culinary delights of our Bahamian culture.
I know that Lady Darling has brought great happiness into Sir Clifford’s life and has stood beside him for so many years as his wife, companion and closest friend.
In looking back as I am sure he does very frequently nowadays, I know the great sense of satisfaction and pride that must surge within him when he takes account of the great distance we have come.
We have come a mighty long way from 1958. It is in no small part because of the courageous example of heroes like Sir Clifford Darling that we have come as far as we have. For that I thank you Sir Clifford.
I thank you on behalf of my own late father Gladstone Christie who along with other taxi drivers like Jimmy Shepherd and George Ferguson to name but a few, fought alongside you in the trenches of that epic struggle nearly half a century ago.
And I thank you on behalf of all Bahamians, for we have all been the beneficiaries of the struggles and sacrifices you waged and made on our behalf over such a long period of time.
This ceremonial naming of this building after you, Sir Clifford, is our way of saying we have not forgotten.
It is our small way of expressing the great esteem in which we hold you and the gratitude we owe you for your many contributions to the building of the Bahamian people and the Bahamian nation.
This is but one of many tributes that we must extend to
you while you remain with us as one of the elder statesmen of our nation.
You are a great Bahamian. We revere you. We salute you and we thank you for the many good works you have done and for the enormous sacrifices you have made in the cause of freedom, justice and the upliftment of the Bahamian people...
Your life has been a blessing to us and we all wish you well as you continue to serve as an example to all who follow and a constant reminder that we can all aspire to greatness in the service of others.