Presentation by President of the
Grenada Bar Association, Ruggles Ferguson , at Special Sitting
of the High Court to pay tribute to George Louison - May 19th,
it Please Your Lordships!
I rise on behalf of the Grenada Bar
Association to pay tribute to our dear colleague George Louison
- teacher, farmer, politician, revolutionary, community activist
and Attorney-at-Law - who on Tuesday, May 13th, 2003
departed from us, without notice, to the great beyond!
Whether in his capacity as primary school
teacher, Youth Co-ordinator for the Caribbean Conference of
Churches, Government Minister or Attorney at Law, the reports
are the same: George Louison approached his work, not just as
another job, but with boundless energy and enthusiasm, a sense
of purpose, a commitment to duty, and a genuine desire to serve. He was a tireless worker, a genuine patriot, a good organiser,
a man of the people - a true visionary who not only talked the
talk, but walked the walk.
In the turbulant period of the 1970's, in the
face of heightened political repression, and in particular the
brutality meted out to leaders and members of the New Jewel
Movement, he demonstrated
grit, courage and determination, never daunted by the
many temporary setbacks along the way.
Together with other leaders of like mind, including
Attorneys Maurice Bishop, Kendrick Radix and Lloyd Noel, he used
his skills and limited resources to mobilise and organise the
people, in particular the youth, in the struggle to create what
he saw as not just another society, but a new and just society.
Indeed, he played a decisive role in making and building the
popular and historic peoples revolution of March 1979.
It has come as a surprise to many, including
myself, that he was only 51 years at the time of his death. A
quick calculation will show that at the age of 28 years he was
appointed Minister of Education and became a member of Cabinet
in the Peoples Revolutionary Government. He, however, exhibited
a sense of maturity and responsibility way beyond his age.
I have known George for many years, moreso in
the field of politics, as fellow members of the New Jewel
Movement, than in law. I
can testify to his enormous capacity for hard work, his personal
discipline, courage, loyalty, determination and unwavering
committment to the fight for a better quality of life for his
people. In those days the normal workday for the leaders and
members of the NJM began well before 5am and ended well after
midnight. No task was too great for George, whether it was in
the nature of mental challenges, or physical challenges
extending to personal danger; nor any task too menial for him,
like the many community projects and clean-up campaigns in which
he participated. No
time was too early to begin his duties, many times having to
drive long distances from his then home in Maran, St.Johnís,
for committments at 5am in St. Georgeís; or too late to end
his duties, many times having to endure sleepless nights,
working on one project or the other for the advancement of the
No wonder in just four and a half years of his
government we can boast of an International Airport, that has
become the gateway to Grenadaís future and has transformed the
entire South of the island into the main centre of economic
activity. No wonder too that under his tenure as Minister of
Education two new secondary schools were built; the rate of
illiteracy was reduced dramatically with the introduction of the
Centre for Popular Education to cater for adult literacy; and
Grenada can today benefit from the hundreds of university
scholarships granted in that era, including in the fields of
medicine, economics, engineering.
Following the demise of the Revolution in 1983
George did not just sit back and brood over defeat.
He seized the time and opportunity to further his
studies, qualified as an Attorney-at-Law and was called to the
Bars in the United Kingdom, Grenada and Trinidad & Tobago.
Though he practised mainly in Trinidad, he has appeared in
several matters in Grenada over the years, and I had the
opportunity of appearing on opposite sides, in a major off-shore
matter in which both himself and the distinguished Queens
Counsel Karl Hudson-Phillips were involved, on different sides.
He resolutely defended his clients in that matter.
Like politics, his colleagues in Trinidad testify that he
approached law with the same intensity, hard work , discipline
and eye for detail.
One does not need to look too far to
understand why George, from a very early age, demonstrated such
positive qualities, including his deep committment to struggle
for social justice. In that regard, due recognition must be
given to the parents of the large Louison family, hard-working
farmers, who ensured that each of their children received a
sound education. I am reliably informed too that Georgeís
father, Garvey Louison, was named after the late great Jamaican
National Hero Marcus Mosiah Garvey, who championed the cause of
blacks in the struggle for freedom, justice and equality. No
doubt a certain level of consciousness for the plight of the
poor and dispossessed was present in the generations before.
In times like these, one cannot help but seek
comfort in the saying: It
matters not how long you live,
but how you live! George Louison lived a relatively short
life, but he lived a full and quality life from which we can
take example and be justly proud. Not the kind of life
that was designed to accumulate personal riches for
himself, to attain all the material niceties of this world, but
rather one that focused on the development of people; one that
sought to improve the quality of life for all and to ensure that
there was a more even distribution of wealth for the benefit of
Whatever criticisms that one may have about
George Louison, no one can deny his exemplary attributes: hard
work, personal discipline, loyalty, selfless sacrifice and a
deep sense of patriotism. He stood up and fought for what he
believed regardless of the consequences.
To his common law wife, children, brothers,
sisters and other family members we say: Stand strong in this
moment of grief. You have lost a great brother, father, friend
and leader. However, you may take comfort in the fact that his
life was not in vain. He gave selflessly, worked tirelessly and
dedicated his life to the upliftment of his people. He has left
an indelible mark. History
will one day record, in true perspective, his positive
contribution to the social, political and economic life of
To my colleagues I say: Let us take this
opportunity to reflect again on our own vulnerability.
Death is no respector of age or calling in life.
It is important that we put our house in order, to
mitigate the harsh effects of some of the uncertainties of this
life. Thatís why
I will again emphasise the importance of group pension and
medical insurance as advocated by the Bar. We have to prepare
for the unexpected and for the rainy days. Watch the stress
levels. I was told
by one colleague of a recent television programme that
categorised law as one of the most stressful professions - and
they were speaking generally, not even specifically about the
practise of law in Grenada. In these times of new civil
procedure rules and constant deadlines, and the severe
constraints under which we operate, we have to make new,
innovative and conscious efforts to keep adapting to the rapid
changes and to
keep stress levels down. In this regard I urge greater
organisation, enhanced planning and the greater use of
technology as useful tools in the overall, effective management
To our dear colleague we say: Farewell!
You have fought a good fight. You have run a relatively
short but brilliant leg of the relay. It is now for those behind
to accept the baton and continue the fight.
We thank you for your selfless contribution. You have
secured your place in history. No doubt the people of your
hometown Concord are
especially proud of you.
May you rest in peace!!