Basseterre, St. Kitts –- The federation of St. Kitts and Nevis earlier this week lost one of its true sons of the soil with the passing of former teacher, historian and social commentator George Washington “Washie” Archibald.
Archibald, 83, who died Tuesday morning at the JNF Hospital following an illness, has been remembered by many in society for his contribution to education.
Born May 28, 1934, in Soho Village, Basseterre, Archibald began his teaching career in 1951 and was appointed principal of Senior School with the mandate to transition it to the Basseterre Junior High School, which was upgraded to a high school in 1998 under the name of Washington Archibald High School.
He was also the founder of “Project Strong,” a skills training programme that gave high school dropouts a second chance at learning. He oversaw its affairs from 1998-2009.
Archibald’s academic accomplishments include a bachelor of arts degree in economics and history, with a minor in English Literature, from the University of the West Indies (Cave Hill) and a diploma from Leeward Island Teachers’ College. He also was a regular contributor for this publication for two years with a regular column.
Archibald was also the recipient of the Independence 2015 Awards for his contribution to the development of the federation and was presented with the Companion Star of Merit (CSM) award for his contribution to education.
Commenting on his death, Prime Minister of St. Kitts and Neivs Dr. Timothy stated that the government and people of St. Kitts and Nevis join with the family and friends of Archibald “to mourn the profound loss of an educator and political commentator who will best be remembered for his passion for helping adult learners and [people] with learning disabilities.”
Harris further commented on Archibald’s contribution to education, noting that he had served in many capacities at various government and private school. He also hailed the role Archibald played in the political life of St. Kitts and Nevis.
“He had long rejected the validity of a sugar industry and, in fact, thought that the continuation of the sugar industry was a continuation of an industry that made our people poor and kept them on the periphery of socio-economic development,” Harris said. “In that regard, Mr. Archibald put forward two alternatives to the sugar industry. One was to turn from sugar to pork production, and the second was a proposition to turn the north-eastern section of St. Kitts, which had long been the most productive area for sugar production, into something marvellous that could link to the tourism industry. Hence, the idea for the Whitegate development was born.”
Harris also hailed Archibald for his advocacy during the most recent campaign. “At a time of political turmoil in the country … Mr. Archibald, as a member of the group ‘Operation Rescue’, gave advocacy and strong support to me as I assumed the leadership of the alternative government (Team Unity) to the then incumbent.”
The prime minister stated that he will have enduring memories of Archibald’s contributions to the socio-economic and political life of St. Kitts and Nevis.
“For all the great things that he has done and has caused to be done, I want to place on record my own personal debt of gratitude to Washington Archibald and to mourn with the nation at large on the loss of an outstanding son of the soil, who, to the end, lived simply to serve his fellow compatriots,” he said.
Former Government Minister Dwyer Astaphan also expressed condolences to Archibald’s family, who also helped form part of the social activist group Operation Rescue. “I wish to express condolences to the family of Washie on behalf of operation rescue,” Astaphan said.
He then gave background in to how he met and began working with Archibald.
“I came to know Washie close when he and I taught together when he was the boss up at the Basseterre Junior High School,” Astaphan said. “It was an honour and pleasure working with him. He [was] easy to work for,” noting that Archibald had a natural instinct for teaching, as well as a passion for learning and a passion seeing people learn.