Antigua & Barbuda-Gem of the Caribbean

By: Leon B. Francis

MIAMI – Amidst the chain of islands that stretch from Florida in the north and Venezuela in the South, lies Antigua (pronounced Antee-ga), along with Barbuda, a (62 square miles) and Redonda ½ square mile they comprise the nation of Antigua and Barbuda of 1701/2 square miles.

In 1492 Columbus discovered the island and found that the island was without much water hence, he named it Antigua (anti agua). Blessed with the luxury of an all-year climate averaging 78 degrees Fahrenheit and more than 365 white sandy world class beaches, Antigua is regarded as the Gem of the Caribbean. The nation has become the home of many wealthy foreign nationals, as well as many from the neighboring islands.

In 1834 slavery was abolished, and some 100 odd years later, led by its first Prime Minister, Vere Cornwall Bird, former Salvation Army Captain, the country has gone from Statehood in Association with Great Britain, to full independence in 1981. Others to hold this high office are Sir George H Walter, Lester B. Bird and Present Prime Minister Baldwin W. Spencer. The nation enjoys a reasonable standard of living, with an exchange rate $2.70 for a US$, and enjoys a literacy rate of 97%.

Not many countries of its size can boast the quality of world-class athletes that Antigua and Barbuda produced over the years. The most overlooked and first to receive international recognition is the great bodybuilder Paul Joseph “Paddy” Wynter, six times winner of Mr. Universe. Winning in 1956, 1958, 1959, 1960, 1965 and 1966. In 1998 he was inducted in the Bodybuilding Hall of Fame. In his day, Paul Wynter was one of the most symmetrical body builders in the world. Today, he is still regarded as one of the best bodybuilders the world has ever seen or will ever see.

In the late seventies, the world has taken a different view of the cricketing capabilities of players from the Caribbean, especially those from the Lesser Antilles. There is no doubt in my mind that with the advent of the Great Sir Isaac Vivian Alexander Richards, the incomparable Anderson Montgomery Everton Roberts, the versatile Curtly Elcon Lindwall Ambrose, former WI captains Richard Richie Richardson and Ridley Jacobs, cricketers from Antigua will never again be taken for granted.

Maurice Hope, the Antiguan born boxer, knocked out Rocky Mattioli in 1979 to win the WBC JR Middleweight Championship. He also held the British, European and Commonwealth titles at one stage as well.

Some of the greatest Caribbean minds have come out of Antigua and Barbuda. The late Leonard Tim Hector is a shining example of such brilliance. His articles in the Outlet, under the caption Fan the Flame makes excellent reading today, four years after his death Jamaica Kincaid, author of many world-class novels, may one day receive a Nobel Peace Prize in literature.

Percival “Pep” Perry, a scientist with IBM, has been recognized worldwide. Locally, Antiguan born Peter Sylvester Adrien, a very popular attorney was elected, the first Caribbean born Circuit Court Judge in Miami-Dade County.

Under the leadership of DL Kirby, a local contractor, the Antigua& Barbuda Association of Florida Inc., was incorporated 1990.

On November 1, 2006 the Nation will celebrate 25 years of Independence and will mark the event with a gala dance and ball on November 11, 2006 at the Inverrary Golf and Country Club in Lauderhill, Florida.

The guest speaker for the event will be the Hon Gisele Isaac-Arrindell, speaker of the House of Representative in Antigua and Barbuda. Noel Browne and the Tribal love Band and DJ Dennis will provide the entertainment. Over the years, the body has harnessed many nationals in South, in order to provide assistance to many institutions in Antigua and Barbuda and has supported numerous charitable causes.

Local president Robert Bascus, along with the other executive officers comprising Ken Richards, Beverly Bramble, Peter Adrien and yours truly are very optimistic that this year’s event will be the best ever.

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