by T. C. Phipps-Benjamin,
Over two years ago, one of our federation’s treasures fell victim to the merciless fangs of illness.
In an instant, life changed significantly and the new normal meant constant reliance on others for care. Reluctantly, the renowned patriot travelled overseas to receive medical attention. He has since lost his ability to communicate as clearly as he once did but through countless challenges, he remained full of fervor, ever alert and optimistic that he would one day return to the land he calls home.
George Washington “Washy” Archibald has finally returned to the corner of the world that brings him joy and contentment. He is in his land of birth; he is home sweet home.
“Washy”has long been one of the many key players in the social, political and educational landscape of St. Kitts and Nevis.
A self proclaimed liberalist, Archibald has unapologetically voiced his opinions on issues he believes affects the common man in the federation. He has been an advocate for better living conditions and opportunities for the ordinary citizen. Through his vision, he pioneered Project Strong, an educational alternative that provides students with a second chance and the opportunity to acquire skills which they can ill-afford to garner on their own. Washy’s vision helped to pave the path of promise for the impoverished and often forgotten lot in our society.
Washy’s story is a remarkable one.
A brief review of his work unearths a daring man who fearlessly championed the cause for society’s less fortunate. Backing down, and giving in were never his strengths and he has fought with unrivaled passion for the causes in which he believes.
George Washington Archibald has served the Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis with distinction since he was 16 years old when he was inducted as a student-teacher at primary school level in 1951.
Ten years later, Archibald transferred to the Basseterre Senior School, which he would eventually channel into the new Junior High School —part of the revolutionary comprehensive secondary school system engineered by the Ministry of Education under the auspices of the late Honorable Clarence Fitzroy Bryant.
In 1973, Mr. Archibald launched the St. Kitts Business College, a private institution, which for many years, provided the pathway for many to attain their educational requirements of Ordinary and Advanced level G.C.E. subjects for work or for tertiary educational pursuits.
During the twenty-fifth year of the St. Kitts Business College, Mr. Archibald embarked upon yet another challenge.; he created an innovative program for underserved youth. Under the name of Project Strong, this program provided job and entrepreneurial skills for teenagers who had left school without hope of employment.
For the next ten years, Washy would put all his passion into raising funds for the various programs he spearheaded, which included bee keeping, fishing, basketry and other industrial arts. He also organized camping trips to other islands of the Caribbean, namely, Trinidad, Tobago and Barbados.
Washy has also been a trailblazer in the political sphere of the federation of St. Kitts and Nevis. He spared none of the political parties his perspective on every aspect of governance from education and the economy to religion and land ownership. Through his talk show “Ask Washy” he shared his plain spoken views with a wide listening audience and is a renowned pioneer of the Unity construct, which formed a new government in the federation of St. Kitts and Nevis in February of this year. Washy has been one of the most forward thinking, liberal minds to have graced our nation.
Up until the time of his illness, in July 2013, Washy was still teaching part time. His life as a teacher is without question one of immeasurable service. In his lifetime, Washy has effectuated positive changes in the lives of countless human beings.
Six years ago during a brief presentation to a packed hall of family, friends and well wishers in Harlem, New York, Washy basked in the opportunity to proudly declare St. Kitts-Nevis an island paradise, encouraging citizens to chase the wealth that so many non-nationals are often drawn to. He described our independent twin island nation as a haven where opportunities abound through entrepreneurial initiatives such as agriculture and the arts. He challenged patrons at that memorable event to defy the myth that small islands can’t produce big opportunities and he celebrated the successes attained by Kittitians and Nevisians spread throughout the world.
Archibald still believes our nation is as powerful as the people who occupy the space we call St. Kitts and Nevis and despite his extended sabbatical, Elder Washy continues to tout his land of birth as the greatest nation on earth, holding his lifelong experiences near to his heart.
Washy understood the importance of seeking medical care abroad but from the day he left the pristine shores of our nation, his heart has longed for the glorious dawn of a Caribbean morning and the magnificence of an island sunset. He has found his space back on the rock where he revels in all things local.
We wish Washy, one of our nation’s long serving treasures, continued healing and best wishes on his return to his home sweet home.