David Andre Comissiong
Political Leader of the Peoples' Empowerment Party (PEP), Barbados
David Comissiong is a Barbadian lawyer, politician, and former election candidate. He is the Chairman of the Peoples Empowerment Party (PEP), and President of the Clement Payne Movement (CPM).
Early life and education
David Andre Comissiong was born in St. Vincent and the Grenadines in 1960. While at Harrison College, he was also involved in drama and became the Editor of the school's newspaper "New Collegian."
He was educated at Harrison College, Barbados where he gained a Barbados Exhibition at the end of his secondary school career. Upon leaving school, he studied at the Cave Hill Campus (Barbdos) then the Hugh Wooding Law School (Trinidad & Tobago). He was admitted to the local bar in 1984.
Comissiong has been involved in public life in Barbados for the past 21 years. He first came to prominence in 1985 as a member of the youth arm of the Democratic Labour Party (DLP). After helping the DLP to win the Government in 1986, Comissiong was appointed to the Senate, and at that time was the youngest Senator in the history of Barbados.
During his stint in the Senate, Comissiong emerged as a "tribune" of the people, fighting with and for the working class, and selflessly sharing his skills and energy with a variety of citizens legitimately fighting for justice.
He also distinguished himself as a Senator by publicly demonstrating against the U.S invasion of Panama, and by rejecting the notion that the Queen of England should remain the Head of State of Barbados.
In 1988, Comissiong founded the Clement Payne Movement and launched a campaign for the official recognition of the working class heroes of Barbadian history. This effort met with spectacular success several years later, when Clement Payne and nine other Barbadians were officially declared "national heroes".
The Clement Payne Movement also emerged as the single most important progressive civil society organisation in Barbados. Indeed, much of the serious, progressive political activism in Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean over the past 18 years, has centred around the Clement Payne Movement.
Comissiong eventually resigned from the Senate and the governing DLP, after the party took a turn to the right, and took Barbados into a punitive IMF Structural Adjustment Programme.
Over the years, Comissiong and his Clement Payne Movement have collaborated with the various political parties. In the early 1990's they joined forces with the opposition National Democratic Party in order to remove the governing D.L.P from office. And in the late 1990s they collaborated with the Barbados Labour Party (BLP) in order to develop such projects of the Clement Payne Movement as a Government administered "Commission For Pan-African Affairs", and the Barbados/Eastern Caribbean Unity Initiative. Mr Comissiong served as Director of the Commission For Pan-African Affairs for six years, and played the leading role in conceptualized and developing this unique governmental institution. This collaboration came to an end in late 2004.
Internationally, Comissiong has distinquished himself as the leader of Barbados Government delegations to meetings of the UN World Conference Against Racism in Geneva and in Durban, South Africa, and as a Caribbean representative at the 7th Pan-African Congress in Uganda (1994).
He has been a featured columnist in both of the national newspapers of Barbados, and has served in several national sporting, youth, and civic organisations. He has also been a driving force in the international Pan-African Movement, and is a founder member of the "Global Afrikan Congress".
Comissiong is the author of the 2013 book It's the Healing of the Nation: The Case For Reparations In An Era of Recession and Re-colonisation. He is also the author of "Marching down the wide streets of tomorrow : emancipation essays and speeches" published in 2008
He is married to wife Sally, a Ghanaian-born Attorney-at-law, and is the father of three children - Jutta, Najuma and Aisha.