As Bajan As Yuh Could Get: Remembering David Thompson and Coucou & Flying Fish
Oct. 23, 2011 marked a year since my beautiful homeland Barbados lost our beloved Prime Minister David Thompson. I still find it hard to believe that he’s dead. I grew up watching Thompson, then a young politician and attorney-at-law and I fell in love with his oratorical skills, candour, humility and just plain brilliance. In time, at the age of 46, he became our sixth and youngest prime minister under a Democratic Labour Party government. Alas, Thompson never got to complete his task, as his death to pancreatic cancer came mid way through his five-year term. I continue to keep our nation in prayer and especially his wife Mara and three daughters Misha, Oya and Osa-Marie.
I had the privilege of meeting Thompson a few times as he was a dear friend and colleague of my now ex-boyfriend. I can’t boast of being more than acquaintances with him, but I’m happy to say every encounter I ever had with him was pleasant. The last time I saw him in person, stands out most with me. It was in 2008, the year he became Prime Minister. He was attending an event in my Brooklyn neighborhood and although he stood just a few feet away I was reluctant to go over and say hi. For one, I’d not seen him since I’d moved to New York a few years prior and I thought he might have even forgotten me. Plus, I didn’t want to appear like some obnoxious girl trying to get close to the Prime Minister. Then to my surprise, I heard someone call my full name out loud and turned around to see Thompson standing in front of me. He reached out and hugged me and asked about life in NYC. He mentioned that he’d asked our mutual friend what had become of me and was happy to hear I was pursuing academic dreams. He wished me continued success. It was a moment that made not just my day, but my summer.
Thompson died just over a month before Barbados’ 44th Independence Day celebrations. It made for a bittersweet moment for many Barbadians at home and abroad. On the eve of November, we again prepare to celebrate our independence and we continue to pay tribute to Thompson as a leader, scholar, legal luminary, husband, father and friend. Living in NYC, I often get homesick for things Bajan; especially our culinary delights. And there’s no food more Bajan than our national dish coucou and flying fish. So today, I’m adding a link to my preparation of this delicacy in special memory of Prime Minister David Thompson, who was as Bajan as yuh could get! ~ I Keep it Irie ~ Coucou and Flying Fish