Leonard "Tim" Hector [1942-2002]
Permission of Jamaica Observer, Photographer Colin James
Antiguan politician, educator, culturalist, journalist, historian and cricketeer Leonard "Tim" Hector was a close personal friend of former Grenadian Prime Minister Maurice Bishop. Hector, who would have been 60 years old on 24 November, died on 12 November 2002 from a long struggle with heart disease.
Our focus shall be on Hector's activities relating to Grenada.
Hector was the editor-publisher of the bi-weekly newspaper 'The Outlet' and updated his Internet column 'Fan the Flame' on a regular basis. He was a Caribbean integrationist, a Pan-Africanist, a fighter for freedom of the press, Opposition Leader, a challenger of corruption, a stalwart supporter of West Indies cricket. He was known as a strong challenger of ideas without spewing hatred and a man who bore the consequences of his actions [ jailed 11 times; his publication sued at least 5 times].
According to Dr. David Hinds in a memorial column:
Though a Marxist-socialist, he was not keen on the Moscow-Leninist approach. He preferred the Jamesian [CLR James] approach of popular participation and organization . . .
In 1965, Hector and others "set about to work for the unification of progressive political forces which would carry out the new perspectives for a new and united Caribbean, transcending the language barriers in which the Caribbean had been colonially cocooned," according to a "Fan the Flame" column of 11 December 1988. A Caribbean Service Bureau, with Hector as chairman, was formed.
In that same column, Hector wrote:
"We established extensive contacts throughout the Caribbean. Suffice it here to say that contacts were made with Maurice Bishop then in England, George Odlum now Foreign Minister of St. Lucia, Dr. Walter Rodney in England and Tanzania, and through Cuba, with many progressive activists and thinkers in the independence movement in Puerto Rico and with Latin American countries. Later, on my return to Antigua & Barbuda, these contact were extended to the liberation movements in Southern Africa, and Africa in general. Black independent organisations in the USA joined us. But in no time isms and schisms, particularly Maoism began to rear us apart."
During the Rat Island Black Power Conference in St. Lucia of the 1970s, Hector was taken off a LIAT and arrested by gendarmes in Martinique "on the instruction of the V.C. Bird government in Antigua," according to that same December 1988 column. In his column of 23 April 1999, Hector says that he
. . . spent the night in a dingy rooming house in Martinique, without sleeping a wink, because I wanted to be awake when the Martinican gendarmes came to dispose of me, and hopefully return me to Antigua in one piece. So, I read the only book there was to read, the Bible.
African Liberation Day was held annually in Grenada. Its start began in Antigua and Barbuda in 1972, led by Hector's Antigua-Caribbean Liberation Movement (ACLM).
Both Hector and Maurice Bishop were among others from the U.S., Canada, Caribbean and Africa, including Randall Robinson, on the ALSC letterhead. The committee representatives joined with Owusu Sadaukai. Sadaukai, who visited Grenada in 1972, was one of 7 other officers of the [circa 1973] African Liberation Support Committee.
Hector wrote about African Liberation Day in his 8 March 2000 Fan the Flame column:
"It was Owusu Sadaukai [Dr. Howard Fuller] as an African-American leader, in the wake of the decline of the Black Civil Rights movement in the United States, who with ACLM [Antigua-Caribbean Liberation Movement] leader, Tim Hector, in Antigua conceived the idea of African Liberation Day, to be observed on the last Saturday in May, when all Africans and partisans of liberation were asked to demonstrate, in support of the struggle against apartheid in South Africa and Southern Africa in particular - the liberation struggles in Angola, Mozambique, Guinea Bissau, and for independence 'in each and every' remaining colony be it in occupied Palestine, or the POLISARIO in Morocco."
In his 30 June 2000 Fan the Flame column, Hector writes:
" . . . the Caribbean delegation was banned from the sixth and last Pan African Congress held in 1974, and CLR James, Walter Rodney and all of us from the region were excluded by African and Caribbean State fiat. External forces were combining with internal powers to nullify our efforts. CLR who had headed the Sixth Pan African Congress organising committee, resigned in protest over the exclusion of the Caribbean delegation. The point was, the International Black movement was being divided, despite our best efforts. Imperialism saw to that."
Regarding a Pan-Caribbean Movement, Hector's column of 8 March 2002, revealed the struggles:
"ACLM along with OWTU in Trinidad & Tobago, itself embattled, did everything to launch a Pan-Caribbean Progressive Movement. U.S. President Reagan retaliated with the Caribbean Union of right-wing Caribbean governments. Oddly it was Maurice Bishop and Bernard Coard, backed by what passed as ideologues in the Soviet Union, who were to put a major shift in a Pan-Caribbean organisation - the Soviet Union had decreed 'that the correlation of forces' in the world made a Pan Caribbean organisation of progressive forces, 'inopportune at that time.' Though Maurice Bishop remained dedicated to the idea of One Caribbean, the blandishments of the Soviet Union and the gobbledgook spoken by Coard 'as the Grenada scientist' ruined the effort to create a Pan-Caribbean movement in 1980-81."
Hector did not agree with every action of his friend Maurice Bishop, or of the Grenada Government, and he didn't think Bishop expected him to. On 17 October 1979, at a news conference in Barbados, Hector commented on the government-imposed ban on the 'Torchlight' newspaper when he said:
I would have preferred that 'The Torchlight' had not been closed by government decree.
The writer Manning Marable interviewed Tim Hector 20-22 September 1984 and wrote this in his book "African & Caribbean Politics: From Kwame Nkrumah to Maurice Bishop:"
In November 1982 [Tim] Hector confronted his old friend [Bishop] with his own reservations about the NJM, and the discussion degenerated into a shouting match.
'We must have a steeled, ideologically-advanced vanguard party, not a mass-based party,' Bishop argued.
Given the omnipresent 'threat of [US] militarism, unity was necessary among leaders of the NJM.' Hector replied tartly and accurately, 'Your 'vanguard' isn't s --! It's ideologically confused, and despised by the masses.'
Bishop broke off the debate, arguing perhaps to convince himself. 'Our revolution is not going to get bogged down in any ism or schism. The people are the driving force of this Revolution.'
Hector's long association with Bishop was at an end. 'Bishop was actually much further to the left than Coard or anybody else,' Hector later reflected. 'But a true left is that which learns from and is led by the masses. The greatest failure of Bishop was his assumption that his critic inside the NJM possessed his own morality . . . that disagreements between individuals could be resolved peacefully and constructively."
Hector was survived by his second wife Jennifer. His first wife Arah was "brutally murdered while working on their farm," according to writer Rickey Singh. Her loss was a deep and enduring sorrow. Leonard Tim Hector was given an Antiguan State funeral with flags at half-mast.
Hector may have wanted the values of a simple cricket game to mark his life where cricket "save[d] me from malice toward any, in pursuit of the right." He wrote about cricket in his 9 February 2002 'Fan the Flame' column:
"Cricket after all, involves respect for opponents, regard for team mates, the highest respect for the law and the human agency of the law, umpires. Above all, it encourages respect for the game's long held universal values, at a time when all values are under siege, in the neo-liberal pursuit of greed under variouis guises."
In Paul Buble's tribute, he wrote that Antiguan writer Jamaica Kincaid, who currently lives in the State of Vermont in the United States, threatened "to return to Antigua for life if Hector ever became Prime Minister."
Dr. David Hinds paid tribute to Hector by writing that the 'words of one of Tim's favorite poets, Martin Carter, sums up my farewell to a warrior, a Caribbean warrior:'
"Now from the mourning vanguard of moving on dear comrade
I salute you and I say Death will not find us thinking that we die."