NASSAU – Bahamians are mourning the death of Sir Clifford Darling, the nation’s fourth Governor-General who passed away yesterday at the age of 89.
Current Head of State Sir Arthur Foulkes said Sir Clifford was his friend and colleague for many years. He said the death of this “outstanding leader and nation-builder” was “a personal loss”.
“Sir Clifford was among those extraordinary Bahamian leaders who commanded the Bahamian stage during the history-making years of the fifties and sixties, and he played his considerable role with dedication and with his characteristic dignity,” the governor general said in a statement.
Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham said Bahamians owe “a debt of gratitude to Sir Clifford for his half a century of public service marked by honesty, industry, loyalty and integrity.”
“Sir Clifford’s passing brings to a close another remarkable career of an early nation builder and pioneer for equality,” he said, adding that the former governor general was a hero of the labour movement.
In his tribute, Leader of the Opposition, Perry Christie said the deceased statesman was one of the major builders of the modern Bahamas and a true national hero.
“…It was Sir Clifford’s courageous leadership during the 1958 General Strike that constituted his greatest single accomplishment,” he said on behalf of the Progressive Liberal Party (PLP).
“As the leader of the Bahamas Taxi Cab Union at the time, it was Sir Clifford who instigated and led what is rightly regarded as the largest and most successful struggle in the entire history of the labour movement in The Bahamas, a struggle that began with the blockading of the airport by Sir Clifford and his fellow taxi-drivers.
“Of even greater significance than that, however, it was the General Strike that sparked the final phase of the political struggle that would lead to the attainment of Majority Rule in 1967.”
Sir Clifford was born on February 6, 1922, on the island of Acklins Charles and Aremilia Darling. He attended the Acklins Public School and public schools in New Providence. The former taxicab driver served as General Secretary of The Bahamas Taxicab Union for eight years and as president for ten.
The former taxicab driver served as general secretary of The Bahamas Taxicab union for eight years and as president for 10.
In the early 1950s, Sir Clifford bargained with hotels for better treatment for taxi drivers. In 1957, Sir Clifford as president, blockaded and closed the airport. A general strike followed in January, 1958. With Sir Clifford’s help, an agreement among hotels, tour services and taxicab operators was reached.
Sir Clifford, a lifelong member of the PLP, entered Parliament as a Senator in 1964 and was elected to the House of Assembly in 1967 for the Englerston constituency.
In 1969, he was appointed to the Cabinet where he served as Minister of Labour and National Insurance.
Sir Clifford was re-elected to the house for the Englerston constituency in the 1977 general election and was elected Speaker of the House of Assembly. He was knighted by the Queen the same year. He was the longest serving speaker of the house of assembly from 1977 to 1991.
Sir Clifford was sworn in as Governore General at Government House on January 2, 1992, by Chief Justice Joaquim Gonsalves-Sabola, succeeding Sir Henry Taylor, who retired on January 1.
During a visit to The Bahamas in 1994, Her Majesty the Queen made him a Member of the Grand Commander of the Victorian Order (GCVO). He was also a Stalwart Councilor, the highest honour that can be bestowed on a member of the Progressive Liberal Party.
Sir Clifford Darling died at the Princess Margaret Hospital early yesterday morning at the age of 89. Sir Clifford is survived by his second wife, Lady Ingrid Darling (nee Smith), and seven children, Clifford Darling Jr., Andrea Darling-Thompson, Sharlene Hanna, Theresa McPhee, Rushena Darling, Lakreisha Darling and Charles Darling.