Sir Selvyn Walter – Passing of an Antiguan Icon

For The Gleaner Archives: Sir Alexander Bustamante (second left) with members of the Guild Council of The University of the West Indies, who were among his guests at the reception at Vale Royal for then Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago Dr Eric Williams. From left: Selvyn Walter (president of the guild), Janice DeLeon (secretary), Las Lewis (first vice-president), Karl Wright (treasurer), and Gloria Lannaman (past president).

Republished From Gleaner


I am writing to pay tribute to Sir Selvyn Walter, a former member of parliament in Antigua and Barbuda and a celebrated writer. Selvyn was a student at The University of the West Indies (UWI), Mona, in the early ‘60s whom I met when, in anticipation of Jamaica’s referendum on Independence, some UWI students from other Caribbean countries travelled throughout the island to make presentations to various communities in an effort to influence their votes for Federation.

He was quite a legend at The UWI, Mona, where he is reputed to have delivered an excellent oration to challenge his intended impeachment. He also established the hall chairman’s flat at Chancellor Hall.

While a student, he worked with The Gleaner and with some of the early Rastafari patriarchs. He was an ardent archivist, and maybe his collection can be put on display for posterity. Not forgetting Bank Alley Tales and his musical ability, having been tutored by the indomitable Miss Ella Henry. On graduation, he went to England to do law. He was, however, influenced by the political climate in Antigua and Barbuda. He returned home to join the UPP, led by his brother, Premier Sir George Walter. As a journalist and author, Sir Selvyn wrote many fascinating histories of Antigua and Barbuda. His writings include the story of cricket, Antigua as the birthplace of the steel drum, and politics across the region.

His contribution to scholarship and Antiguan folklore is immense and unforgettable. Another great Antiguan gone. My sincerest condolences to his family.



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  1. Notes From A Native Son Of The Rock!

    First, Sincere Condolences!

    Why was he not made First Chair of the Board of Trustees at UWI Five Islands as a Historical Referent Point rather than giving that honour to the Dean of the Diplomatic Corps., a Middle Easterner and not a person of African Descent in this the International Decade for People of African Descent!

    How can they tout Reparatory Justice Abroad and do nothing at home in the Leading Higher Education Institution! Maybe! Just Maybe! The Chief of Staff has the appropriate response for our aspiring youth! That burden should not be placed on the Antigua And Barbuda Chair of the Reparations Committee!

    “The contribution of Africans and people of African descent to world civilization before and after the advent of the Transatlantic Slave trade remains an important part of the silence and denial that informs the making of the modern world. Only significant advances in research, publication, and curriculum development can facilitate the laying of foundations for exploding harmful myths and other forms of distortion that have enlivened racist thinking and actions. We believe that such a facility can also play an active role in the global search, safe repatriation and preservation of historical artifacts. The countries of origin of such artifacts have a right to integrate an understanding of the past within the modalities of public display.

    “We are cognizant that this second phase of globalization, following upon the first that was characterized by the universalization of racialised chattel enslavement of Africans, also carries with it the potential for both considerable human progress and an enormous increase in levels of racialised misery. It is the principal contradiction of our time, and we need not repeat the tragic errors of the first phase. We must continue to learn from our past, and in so doing prepare with earnest to fashion a new approach to globalization that will neither foster nor rekindle the racism of old or new forms of ethnic conflict and intolerance. This phase of globalization must not be allowed to mature with race and ethnicity as organizing principles and universalised negative racial images.

    “Following the first phase of globalization, despite the transformations associated with emancipation and a century later national Independence, people of African descent, because of persistence racism, continue to be marginalised within economic institutions and environments. We have called for the creation of a culture of democracy within our economy as part of the process of redress and reparations. We call for this process on a national as well as an international level. Democracy for us is not only about the operations of the political system, but a system that is also reflected in the functions of the economy as seen in access to the ownership and possession of productive resources.” – The Head of the Barbados Delegation, Professor Hilary Beckles, Durban, South Africa, September 2001!

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