STATEMENT| There are times when the weight of grief feels like an anchor, heavy and unforgiving. Today, we are gathered under its shadow, and I find myself stepping into it not just as your Prime Minister but as someone who has lost a dear, long-time friend.
In the early days, I remember Obie, the sharp-witted journalist covering courts in Freeport. We shared countless debates and discussions during those days. Little did I know then, our future paths would be so intertwined. As life played out, and we found ourselves shoulder-to-shoulder in the corridors of governance, our relationship deepened. We spent hours pouring over national issues – sometimes agreeing, sometimes not. But always, our bond grew stronger.
Obie’s dedication to the Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) was undeniable. From the early days, he was on the front lines, not just speaking about the party’s values, but actively working to realize its goals. To him, the PLP was more than just a political affiliation; it was a mission.
His respect and admiration for Sir Lynden Pindling were evident. He saw Sir Lynden not just as the party’s leader but as a mentor and guide. Their relationship was built on mutual respect and a shared vision for the future of The Bahamas.
With George Smith, Sir Lynden, Bradley Roberts, Bernard Nottage, and now Obie up in heaven, the celestial council must be having quite the rally. Can you imagine Sir Lynden looking at Obie and jesting, “Thought you could get a break from politics up here?” And Bernard Nottage might laughingly retort, “At least there are no polls to worry about!”
One of the more humorous memories we shared was his light-hearted promise to make me the chief justice if he ever became prime minister. We laughed about it then, but it was a testament to the belief we had in one another that our future was bright.
Obediah Hercules Wilchcombe was more than a colleague. He was a beacon of dedication and patriotism. Those long hours spent in the trenches were a testament to his commitment, not just to me, but to every Bahamian he served.
We were able to navigate the challenging world of politics and public service. Often, it was Obie’s unwavering optimism that pushed us forward when things got tough. He loved Grand Bahama and Bimini deeply, always envisioning their bright futures, even in the darkest of times.
His dedication was unquestionable. As the Social Services Minister, he dove into the deep waters of women’s rights, gender equality, and child protection with an enthusiasm and fervor that was both humbling and inspiring. He was the voice for the vulnerable, and he wore that badge with honor.
Our memories together are countless. From shared laughter to heated discussions, he was always dedicated.
Consider the profound depth of Obie’s character: he stood unyielding behind bars rather than betray a source, a principle he held dear. This wasn’t just about journalistic integrity; it was an emblematic act of valor, showcasing his fierce loyalty and unbreakable commitment. In a world often swayed by convenience and fear, Obie chose the road less traveled, and therein lies the testament of true greatness.
As I reflect on the final words spoken by the Hon. Obie Wilchcombe, I am washed by a myriad of emotions. His impassioned plea to the Women’s Branch of the PLP was not just an address; it was a legacy. In his voice that day, I heard the echoes of every conversation, every shared dream, and every hope we had for our nation.
Obie always had an uncanny ability to pinpoint the core of an issue and to rally us around it. He said, “Let’s take these issues and make them real,” and to me, it meant more than just understanding statistics or laws. It was a call to recognize the lived realities of our people, to bridge the chasm between policy and reality.
For me, as the Prime Minister, his words are a stark reminder that leadership is about genuine connection, about truly listening. For our nation and party, Obie’s last speech stands as an emblem of dedication and purpose. It underscores the importance of being not just leaders but guardians of the people’s trust, of their lives, of their stories. It is a reminder that every law we pass, every policy we implement, has a face, a name, a story.
As we move forward, let us honor Obie’s legacy by ensuring that every decision we make is anchored in the heartbeats of the Bahamian people. Obie wasn’t just talking politics; he was laying out a roadmap of compassion, duty, and responsibility. For Obie, it wasn’t just about politics; it was about heart.
Obie’s words weren’t mere suggestions; they were a clarion call. A call to stand taller, to work harder, to care deeper.
Today the weight of his absence is palpable. But in the echoing silence, there is also a profound sense of gratitude. Gratitude for the time we shared, for the lessons he taught us, and for the legacy he leaves behind.
To his beloved children, I extend not just the condolences of a Prime Minister but the heartache of a friend who shares in your grief. Obie was truly one of a kind. A giant in the realms of journalism, politics, public service, and above all, in the hearts of all those fortunate enough to know him.
Goodbye, my friend. As you journey forward, may the angels guide your path, and may you find eternal peace. And may we, left behind, honor your legacy by continuing the good work you started, with the same dedication and passion that you showed us every day.
In the loving memory of Obie, let’s hold close to our hearts the lessons he taught us, the love he shared, and the path he paved. He will be deeply missed, but his legacy will live on, in every life he touched and every heart he warmed.
Remember Obie’s favorite words, “One Love.” Let that be our anthem, our call to action.
Stand tall, Grand Bahama and Bimini.
Stand tall PLPs.
The nation watches, and it’s our time to shine.
On behalf of my wife Anne Marie, and my entire family, I extend my condolences to a grieving nation.