COMPLIMENTS TO THE HONORABLE SAM In the next few days, Mr. Terrence (Sam) Condor, Member of Parliament, will be celebrating 20 years of service as an elected member of the National Assembly. To mark this landmark in his personal development, he will launch a season of events to give thanks to God for giving him the sustained support of his people, to enable him to share in the government of this country for 20 years. Mr. Condor deserves congratulations for holding on to his office for that period of time and for performing in a number of ministries during his tenure. Mr. Condor did not travel this road unhindered by obstacles, the biggest one being poverty. When Sam was a schoolboy, poverty was a serious challenge to him and many of the lads in his class in school. These lads barely made it to school every day and it required the greatest of will to run to school daily ignoring all their deprivation and learn their lessons. Poverty in the 1950s was no joke just as poverty now is no joke, but its scale in the 1950s was much wider and deeper than it is today. Whereas today’s poor youth own cell phones and iPods and the various other luxuries, those of the 1950s were the wretched of the Earth, hardly able to buy exercise books in which to write in school. There is a marked difference between the poor youth of 1950s and today’s poor youth. The poor youth of the 1950s used to go to school and behave themselves and learn their lessons well. They took stock of their poverty, determined that they would escape from it and used to the hilt the best device that could help them to escape. The device was of course, education. For most of these lads in Basseterre and the countryside, in 1950 the education was not of high quality. The only available secondary school was the St. Kitts-Nevis Grammar School which catered to less than 400 young men in St. Kitts. The education which our youngster of the ’50s got was a somewhat enriched primary school education, leading at first to no recognized qualification and later to qualifications inferior to the traditional secondary school. The qualification which they were allowed to get ensured that they would not threaten the welfare of the Grammar School boys for whom the Establishment reserved all of the jobs in the Civil Service. Boys who left the government schools were destined for the Police Force if they were sufficiently tall where they would begin a process of Police education to equip them to become law enforcement officers. Those who failed the physical test for policing became apprentices and also began a period of learning which ended in their becoming tradesmen. Sam Condor entered the printing trade and apprenticed himself to the Government Printery. Looking back, I believe that he was attracted to printing because of his deep desire for an education. While he was still a lad going to school he used to sell newspapers to earn some money with which to help his mother. He was an indefatigable newspaper boy, tripping from one side of the street to next to sell a paper to a customer. I could still see him through the mist of the years, running across the road from the Five and Ten Cents Store to sell me a Labour Spokesman. He used to make 3 cents on each paper that he sold and so it was in his own self-interest to sell as many papers as he could in order to make a little money. I found out later that every time he made 3 cents he held back one cent for a small savings account which his mother advised him to open. His mother, who tried her best to raise him in a poor way, gave him the best advice a parent could give to a child: save something for the rainy day. Thus when he became a printer he continued to save, not withdrawing anything from this pool, and for years he kept on building up this pool of savings until some years later when he wanted to go to Britain to further his studies he could draw on it to pay his passage. I taught Sam Condor at the Basseterre Senior School, known now as the Washington Archibald High School. He was always eager to learn, a quality which I think he developed from reading the newspapers which he sold. Sometimes he was absent but when he returned to school he would ask for the update and try to catch up. This was an endearing feature of his character, and it naturally drew from me a reciprocal level of personal interest. I was happy when he went off to Britain to study at one of the modern universities. I was particularly happy that he studied economics which I myself had studied when I went to university. And I was happiest when he returned to St. Kitts qualified in his area of study. Unfortunately, Kennedy Simmonds was the Head Nigger In Charge of St. Kitts and he determined that Condor should not find a job teaching at the Basseterre High School. The obvious reason was that Sam was a supporter of the Labour Party. But Sam survived until in 1989. The people of St. Johnson Village and its envious elected him to office to succeed the great and humble Joseph Nathaniel France. I had spoken a year earlier at his induction as the successor to Mr. France. I said then that I was glad that it was he who was selected to replace Mr. France because, as a conscious son of poverty and an ordinary man with an ordinary lifestyle, I believed that he was fit to bear the mantle of this great man and pioneer. I am happy to find that I was not wrong in my assessment. Mr. Sam Condor after 20 years is very much the same as when he entered the political arena 20 years ago. He is as personable to all ordinary people as Mr. France was and ordinary people love him. He carries the mantle of leadership with such grace and humility that I often wonder if St. Kitts would be a much better place if Sam Condor had been selected to become Prime Minister. I wonder if he would have become arrogant and boasting; I wonder if he would have discovered that he was 10 to 1; I look at his modest house and wonder whether he would have used the power of his office to enter the competitive market for housing. I know that people change but I believe that the Honorable Sam Condor would have remained an unswerving servant of the people had he become Prime Minister instead of Deputy Prime Minister.
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