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Hundreds bid farewell to Sir Clifford Darling

Hundreds of Bahamians paused yesterday to bid farewell to Sir Clifford Darling, who was remembered as a hero of The Bahamas during a state funeral.

Sir Clifford, the archipelago’s fourth governor general, died on December 27 at the Princess Margaret Hospital (PMH). He was 89.  Sir Clifford’s funeral, held at Zion Baptist Church on East and Shirley Streets, brought together Bahamians from all spheres of society.

Bahamians and visitors lined the streets from 10:30 a.m. as the pallbearers’ party took Sir Clifford’s body in procession from Parliament Square to the church.  The procession included Governor General Sir Arthur Foulkes, Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham, Opposition Leader Perry Christie, members of the police and defence forces, parliamentarians, senators, the judiciary and family and friends.

During his tribute to Sir Clifford, Governor General Sir Arthur Foulkes described him as a great man who belonged to a great generation.

“The curtain is closing on a defining era in the history of The Bahamas,” he said during the three-hour service.

Sir Arthur said Sir Clifford had a passion for social justice and was instrumental in bringing about majority rule.  Sir Clifford was among the first 18 members elected to government during the 1967 general election which brought an end to over 300 years of minority rule.

Opposition Leader Christie said Sir Clifford set an excellent example for “all of us to follow”.

“The best blood of the nation coursed through his arteries,” Christie said, adding that Sir Clifford lived a life of heroic courage and served the country well.

Christie noted that Sir Clifford will be most remembered for the role he played in the 1958 General Strike.  In November 1957, Sir Clifford and a group of cab drivers blockaded and closed the airport in a bid to protest an exclusive deal that the major hotels had with a taxi company, which resulted in a monopoly that excluded the taxi union.  The General Strike followed in January.

Christie said that was Sir Clifford’s finest hour.

“That is the most persuasive testament to his courage,” Christie said during his tribute at the funeral.

Christie said it is unfortunate that Sir Clifford’s involvement in that general strike is not as well known as others who played a part in it.  However, he said Sir Clifford’s autobiography is helping to change that.  Christie, speaking specifically to Prime Minister Ingraham, said Sir Clifford’s autobiography ought to be a part of the public school curriculum.

“That is not a criticism on either of us.  It’s a call of action to both of us,” he added.

In a written tribute that was included in the funeral program, Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham described Sir Clifford as a figure for change.

“Sir Clifford Darling played a pivotal role in the social and political development of our country.  He was a good and decent man who has left many footprints in Bahamian history.  We owe a great debt of gratitude to him for a half of a century of public service.  His proud legacy will never be forgotten.”

Meantime, Zion Baptist Pastor Reverend T.G. Morrison bemoaned the current state of the country.

Morrison said too many politicians have become “dangerously ruthless” and too many young men have turned to a life of crime.

“Is this The Bahamas that Sir Clifford envisioned?” he asked.

Morrison called on Bahamians everywhere to interrupt the cycle of destruction.

“I urge you to live by the principals that ordered [Sir Clifford’s] life,” he said.

Sir Clifford served as a PLP MP from 1967 to 1991.

In 1971, he was appointed minister of labour and national insurance, and was responsible for the introduction of the National Insurance program on October 7, 1974.

Many years later, the Christie administration named the main NIB building in his honor.  Sir Clifford also served as a senator and as a speaker of the House.

Sir Clifford was laid to rest at the Western Cemetery on Nassau Street.

Left to remember him are his wife, Lady Igrid Darling, his children, Clifford Darling Jr., Andrea Darling-Thompson, Sharlene Hanna, Theresa McPhee, Rushena Darling, Lakreisha Darling and Charles Darling, along with a host of other family members.


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