Keeping the end in view
A few months ago, I was given a message that I had been summoned to the court of Edwena Smith at her stately home on Montpelier Road in Devonshire.
For those who didn’t know, Mrs Smith was a legendary teacher of Latin at the Berkeley Institute from 1955 to 1980. Unfortunately for myself, I did not get to be her student at this time, as I started at the Berkeley Institute in September 1980.
Fortunately, I was blessed to serve under Mrs Smith on the management committee of the Berkeley Educational Society.
One of the sub-committees of the BES is the programme committee. It was here that Mrs Smith charged her subjects with putting together events that celebrated the many different facets of the school that we dearly love.
One such event was the Annual Jazz Jam, which showcased some of Berkeley’s most talented musicians and singers, while raising funds to assist students with their university fees.
Mrs Smith ensured that every detail was covered from the line-up to the refreshments to advertising.
Indeed, it was her signature event that must be continued.
During my visit with Mrs Smith, we had a very fruitful conversation, which proved to be more of a history lesson for myself. She spoke extensively of her family ties from the Turks and Caicos, and of her life growing up. This gave me a unique insight into the Bermuda of yesteryear and the subsequent need for social and political change.
She went to great lengths to explain some of the guiding principles that her husband, the late William Albert “Peter” Smith and others put into the founding of the Progressive Labour Party.
Principles such as:
• Looking out for the small person
• Having a proactive agenda for Bermudians
• Making sure all were welcomed to join the PLP
Her point was that those same principles must be employed now that we are in government again.
On Tuesday, we celebrated the 50th anniversary of the first elections to be held under universal adult suffrage. That historic election allowed every Bermudian aged 21 or over the ability to vote — in contrast to previous elections that gave voting rights to only those who were landowners.
It is through the works of persons such as the late Edwena Smith that saw this archaic and racist way of voting confined to the dustbins of history. However, as a country we still have a long way to go towards true economic, social and racial equality.
Upon parting, Mrs Smith shook my hand, raised her fist and stated two well-known Latin phrases — A luta continua and Respice finem, which translated mean “The struggle continues” and “Keep the end in view”.
Indeed, we will, Mrs Smith.
• Christopher Famous is the government MP for Devonshire East (Constituency 11). You can reach him at WhatsApp on 599-0901 or e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org