Remembering Sir Lloyd Erskine Sandiford

by July 1, 2023

The following statement is issued by Professor Sir Hilary Beckles, Vice-Chancellor of The University of the West Indies, on the passing of Caribbean political stalwart, Sir Lloyd Erskine Sandiford.

Reflecting on the political poetics of Caribbean small islands, I realize that long have I been of the view that while they are deeply troubled by their size, they are also adamant enough to say to the mighty ocean that seeks to engulf and erase them – ‘if you want to pass, go around!’ Ill winds, persistent and penetrating, have also made them even more adamant. These were my first musings when I heard of the passing of Sir Lloyd. 

As a political stalwart Sir Lloyd was generally unhurried and often unshakable in his approach to divisive phenomena. This was also reflected in the manner in which he spoke. The steady certainty with which he engaged spoke to a confidence endemic to his belief system. Democratic in orientation, the core of his politics was grounded in ‘love of country’. From the beginning he threw his political weight behind the imperative of publicly funded education for the masses. This was a principle of his social democracy and the vehicle on which he believed the nation would travel to economic prosperity and social stability. In this regard, he never failed to stand his ground in the pursuit of access to development for the historically disadvantaged, and the necessity to blunt the social sword of the traditionally privileged.

Sir Lloyd was an intellectual product of the ideological vision of The UWI. He was for example, adamant in his commitment to national independence and dignified nation building. He evolved as the quintessential servant leader and served The Right Excellent Errol Barrow’s strategy with skill and sustainability. When his turn came to serve as Prime Minister, he dug in his heels in defence of Barbados and its democracy and insisted that the rich and powerful had no personal keys to his private office. They too, like the mighty raging ocean, would have to go around. It was this sense of service to the nation that contributed significantly to its freedom from International Monetary Fund (IMF) enchainment. 

Departing the Office of Prime Minister, he was called upon to serve his nation as ambassador to China. From Beijing he often took the opportunity to remind us that there was nothing surprising about the appointment since his father often said to him that he would go far in life. His has been the remarkable journey of a steadfast soldier. The UWI community is honoured to celebrate him for living a life selflessly in the service of his people. Travel well Sir Lloyd and thanks for your lessons in the art of resilience.