A native son of Acklins soil has been recognized for his contributions to nation building. His name will forever be etched in the landscape of his hometown of Acklins after the Acklins Central High School was renamed in his honour. During an official ceremony held at the school campus in Pompey Bay, August 4, 2023, Prime Minister and Minister of Finance the Hon. Philip Davis, along with several cabinet ministers (including Minister of Education and Technical and Vocational Training, Hon. Glenys Hanna-Martin; Minister of National Security, Hon. Wayne Munroe; Minister of Agriculture, Marine Resources and Family Island Affairs, Hon. Clay Sweeting and Minister of State for the Environment and Natural Resources and MP for MICAL, Hon. Basil McIntosh) and officials from the Ministry of Education — gathered to recognize former Parliamentarian and Cabinet Minister, the Hon. A. Loftus Roker at the renaming of the Acklins school in his honour, bestowed at the Golden Jubilee Anniversary of Bahamas Independence.District Superintendent, Michelle Bowleg, served as moderator for the ceremonies.Prime Minister Davis, said that it was an honour to recognize one of the most prominent figures in the country’s history.”God is good, and he sent our nation, leaders of vision and courage when we needed them.
As all of us here today know, Loftus Roker played a critical role in one of the most important moments in our national history,” he said. “In December of 1972, as one of only fifteen in a national delegation led by then Prime Minister Pindling, he travelled to London to negotiate the terms of our country’s independence. He did this because, in his own words, he ‘believed in freedom.’ Mr. Davis said that today only four of the signatories of the independence agreement are still alive, therefore, the country is fortunate and grateful for the ability to be able to turn to them for first-hand accounts of critical moments in Bahamian history.”What an incredible journey — from a childhood in Acklins to participating in the events that altered the nation’s course and delivered the country’s national sovereignty,” said Prime Minister Davis.During his tenure in government, Mr. Roker served as Minister of National Security and Immigration. As a tribute to him, Minister of National Security, the Hon. Wayne Munroe delivered remarks commending Mr. Roker for his service.
He said that the true scope of the sacrifice and dedication that people like Mr. Roker served under, could never be fully appreciated in today’s context as the times have changed. “We do a hero as Mr. Roker a disservice when we don’t recognize the circumstances under which they carried out their duties because we cannot measure what they have done in the context of today. We can only appreciate what they have done when we understand the context of what they faced when carrying out their duties. So I wish to congratulate A. Loftus Roker for his service to this nation. Congratulations to you, Sir. ” said Mr. Munroe.Minister of Agriculture, Marine Resources and Family Island Affairs, the Hon. Clay Sweeting thanked Mr. Roker for his contributions and said that heroes such as Mr. Roker who hail from remote Family Islands, serve as testament that residents of the Family Islands should remember that they can also contribute to the development of the country.”I am pleased to represent the youth in parliament, recognizing the efforts of seasoned politicians such as Mr. Roker who paved the way for us,” said Mr. Sweeting.Minister of Education and Technical and Vocational Training, the Hon. Glenys Hanna-Martin, said that the institution shaped the minds of many future leaders and nation builders, including Mr. Roker.”As one of the men who championed the cause of freedom for our nation as a result of his fearless conviction and love of country and love of fellow man, Mr. Roker became a voice for our national parliament,” said Mrs. Hanna-Martin.
“Therefore, it is fitting that in this time as we celebrate our nation’s jubilee, that we would recognize this great man. Whatever is said of him, all must agree that he is a true patriot of this country.”Responding to the accolades bestowed on him, Mr. Roker said that he was humbled by the gesture. He said that over the years, he had declined other designations, including being knighted but was honoured to accept the renaming of the school in his namesake. “I want to thank the parents and the PTA for their efforts,” he said. “Although I never attended the high school, I had my education from this school.” He also reminisced about his journey as a politician but advised attendees to always depend on themselves to bring their dreams to fruition and not politicians.The Hon. A. Loftus Roker was born on 25th August, 1935 in Delectable Bay, Acklins, to Elkin and Dolores Theodora Roker. He obtained his early education at the public school in Pompey Bay and the Western Senior High School in New Providence. Later, he went on to work at the Bahamas Telecommunications Department’s transmission station. He later pursued a law degree at the University of London and Middle Temple, where he obtained a Bachelor of Laws degree in 1961 and was called to the Bar in 1962. Mr. Roker launched his political career at the tender age of 20 and became a Standard bearer of the Progressive Liberal Party. He ran in the 1968 general elections and successfully contested his seat to become the representative for the Nicholls Town and Berry Islands Constituency. He served as Chairman of the Gaming Board and as a member of the Advisory Council to the Ministry of Education between 1968 and 1971. In 1971, Prime Minister, Sir Lynden Pindling appointed him to the post of Minister of Health and Housing. Then in December, 1971, Mr. Roker, along with 14 other Parliamentary colleagues, made history when they signed the nation’s independence constitutional order. In August, 1975 he was appointed Acting Minister of Works and Utilities and was subsequently confirmed to that post in January 1976. Later in 1985, Mr. Roker was appointed Minister of National Security.
During his tenure, the issue of illegal immigration was aggressively addressed. He considered himself to be a ‘black nationalist who believed in black leadership. Long after his retirement from public life, he remained highly sought after as a national voice of advice and reason for sage, critical and frank commentary on a number of matters of national importance. A devout Anglican, Mr. Roker is an accomplished mariner and seafarer who also enjoys fishing, swimming and golfing. He is married to Ruby Louise (nee Livingston).Situated in the settlement of Pompey Bay is the Acklins Central High School. The institution was established in 1934 by a ‘Mr. Moss’ who is considered the brainchild of the institution after he handed over the 50 x 25 square foot concrete building to the residents of the community. Formerly known as the Pompey Bay Public School, it was constructed to cater to the educational needs of the residents of Pompey Bay and its surrounding communities.
The school was initially managed as a ‘grant-in-aid’ school as the government was not the sole proprietor of the school at that time. Instead, teachers were partially paid by the government and partially by parents until enrollment reached 120 students. The school was renamed the Pompey Bay All Age School and teacher’s salaries were paid in full by the then Board of Education. The first principal of the school was Mr. R. N. Sawyer, who also lived on the school compound. He ran the school along with his assistant, Ms. Hester Tynes. He served for several years, then was succeeded by Mr. Vivian L. E. Bain. Mr. Bain was a graduate of Tuskegee University. In addition to his role as principal, he taught all of the compulsory disciplines in the curriculum, including Music, French and Spanish. The senior boys of the school also did gardening as part of their subjects. Mr. Bain was succeeded by Mr. E. G. Taylor, under whose leadership, four students were successful in passing the Junior Cambridge Examinations in l953. One of those students was the Hon. A. Loftus Roker.
By:BETTY VEDRINE/Bahamas Information Services
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