BASSETERRE, St. Kitts – “I shall miss from my office window the view of the cool mysterious Springfield Cemetery. The echoes of the telephone will forever linger in my ears and the singing of the National Anthem will forever enchant me.”
Those were some of the words said by Sir Cuthbert Montraville Sebastian this morning (Jan. 1) at Government House during a ceremony held in his honour to mark his retirement after serving as Governor-General of the Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis since 1996.
“Time at last has crowned my long endeavour of 17 years of service to St. Christopher and Nevis and to my fellow men. And now this is the moment, publicly and with tenderness, I bid you farewell as your Governor-General,” he said.
Present at the auspicious occasion was Prime Minister the Rt. Hon. Dr. Denzil Douglas and Members of Parliament, including Deputy Prime Minister Sam Condor; Senior Minister Dr. Timothy Harris; Speaker of the House Curtis Martin; Governor-General designate Sir Edmond Lawrence; Member of the Opposition Eugene Hamilton; Premiere of Nevis, Joseph Parry; former Governor-General Sir Probyn Inniss and Deputy Governor-General Eustace John.
Delivering remarks at the ceremony, PM Douglas said it seemed like just yesterday that the then Leader of the Opposition and himself were discussing the importance of having Sir Cuthbert serve as the Governor-General.
“But of course it was not yesterday, it was instead back in 1995. The St. Kitts-Nevis Labour Party had recently been returned to power and we were involved in the important task of identifying the individual best suited to serve our nation in this most important capacity,” he said.
The Prime Minister also spoke about Sir Cuthbert’s father, Joseph Matthew Sebastian, whom he said had set in chain a motion of complex and historic events that would culminate more than half a century later in his very own son being named Governor-General of the Federation of St. Christopher and Nevis; a Federation that his selflessness, his vision and his compassion helped to bring into being.
“We honour Joseph Matthew Sebastian today and we honour his son today as well. Separating the part from his father’s role in the history of our beloved Federation, however, Sir Cuthbert, throughout his life, has used his talent and his energy to draft his impressive course. And in the process he has demonstrated very clearly the power of ability and determination to overcome the power of any restricting and limited external circumstance,” he said.
Dr. Douglas went on to outline some of the accomplishments throughout Sir Cuthbert’s life which include receiving his Bachelors of Science Degree at the Mount Alison University in Canada, a first of his many academic achievements.
He became Medical Superintendent and Obstetrician and Gynecologist at the Cunningham Hospital in St. Kitts in 1966; in 1970 he became an Officer of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire, and in 2005 he was conferred with an Honorary Doctorate from the Mount Alison University.
Host of the ceremony, Delano Bart, St. Kitts and Nevis representative to the United Nations, said it was an honour to open this chapter of Sir Cuthbert’s life 17 years ago and that it was now indeed a distinct honour to close it.
The ceremony also included a presentation by Jihan Williams in poetry and, at the end, there were opportunities for photographs to be taken with the Retired Governor-General by Parliamentarians and Cabinet Members along with members of his family.
Following brunch, Sir Cuthbert took his final inspection of a Guard of Honour from the St. Kitts and Nevis Defence Force and made his formal exit of Government House.
Tomorrow (Jan. 2), Sir Edmond Lawrence will become the Federation’s third Governor-General at an Inauguration Ceremony to be held at Government House at 9:00 a.m.