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The life and times of Sir Milo Butler chronicled in book
  
Sunday, 23 September 2012 12:27

NASSAU, The Bahamas – A non-partisan approach to honouring the country’ first Bahamian-born Governor-General the late Sir Milo B. Butler, was evident as officials congratulated writer Patricia Patterson for writing about the life and times of the national hero.

The book, a biography entitled: Sir Milo, “A Call to Service” was launched Thursday, September 20, in a ceremony in Rawson Square, in front of the Bust of Sir Milo.

Participating in the ceremony were His Excellency Sir Arthur Foulkes, Governor General; the Rt. Hon. Perry Christie, Prime Minister; the Hon. Fred Mitchell, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Immigration; the Hon. Loretta Butler-Turner, Deputy Leader of the Opposition Free National Movement and granddaughter; and Brent Symonette, former Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs.

“We look back and remember him. We remember who he was, what he did in his lifetime and what he means to our Bahamas,” Sir Arthur said.

He said that the book was aptly named because that was what the life of Milo Boughton Butler was all about.

“It is an invaluable contribution to the history of the making of our Commonwealth. It is an inspiring story of a man who was uncompromising in his just demands for his people, and a man who, throughout and to the end, was uncompromised in his integrity,” Sir Arthur said.

Dr. Gail Saunders, historian; Patrician Patterson, writer of the book; and the Rt. Hon. Perry Christie, Prime Minister. (BIS Photo/Derek Smith)Sir Milo was born in Nassau on August 11, 1906 to the late George Raleigh and Frances Butler.

His political career span the period 1936 to 1972, when he was honoured by Special Resolution of the House of Assembly and acclaimed a National Hero. On August 1, 1973, he was sworn in as the first Bahamian Governor-General of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas.

As a young man, Sir Milo learnt about the history of the black Africans and their descendants in the New World, the gross indignities they suffered, the never-ending tribulations they endured and the daunting challenges they confronted. The book also recalls 1938, when Sir Milo started his fight for blacks to work in banks downtown.

“He refused to be a victim of an elaborate and diabolical system of brainwashing designed to inculcate feelings of inferiority among people of African descent,” Sir Arthur said.

Outside the House of Assembly and the political arena, Sir Milo is described as a mild-mannered, soft-spoken gentleman.

Sir Arthur recalled that at the Constitutional Conference in London, when Sir Milo, who had already been designated to become the first Bahamian Governor-General, approached the four Opposition delegates at the end of the table and asked if “we” were being treated properly.

The Prime Minister, acknowledging the book, said knowing the history gives people a sense of accomplishment.

Pictured, talking are the Rt. Hon. Perry Christie, Prime Minister and the Hon. Loretta Butler-Turner, Deputy Leader of the Opposition Free National Movement and granddaughter, Sir Milo. (BIS Photo/Derek Smith) “Knowing your history gives you the strength that you are heading in the right direction. We are paying a disservice to our country by not writing our story; there are going to be mixed-up versions,” he said.

As the book launching reflected on the life of Sir Milo, he commended Sir Milo's descendants for carrying on his legacy.

Mr. Mitchell, who spoke on behalf of Loftus Roker, former PLP Cabinet Minister, focused on the period 1942 to 1973 – the Burma Road Riot to Independence.

“Milo Boughton Butler was to a large extent the star of that show,” Mr. Mitchell said.  

Photo 1: Pictured from left; the Hon. Fred Mitchell, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Immigration; the Rt. Hon. Perry Christie, Prime Minister; Lady Foulkes; and Governor-General Sir Arthur Foulkes. (BIS Photo/Derek Smith)  

Photo 2: Dr. Gail Saunders, historian; Patrician Patterson, writer of the book; and the Rt. Hon. Perry Christie, Prime Minister. (BIS Photo/Derek Smith)  

Photo 3: Pictured, talking are the Rt. Hon. Perry Christie, Prime Minister and the Hon. Loretta Butler-Turner, Deputy Leader of the Opposition Free National Movement and granddaughter, Sir Milo. (BIS Photo/Derek Smith)



Remarks by   
His Excellency Sir Arthur Foulkes  
Governor General   
at the Official Launch of the Book
A Call to Service  
Sir Milo Butler’s Bust
Bay Street

 

When Milo Boughton Butler was born 106 years ago, slavery was still in the living memory of the oldest generation. The wounds and scars of that dark period of human history were very much in evidence and destined to remain for generations to come.

But the 20th century was to see momentous events in the Colony of the Bahama Islands, including a sustained assault on the bastions of prejudice and discrimination, and on the apparatus of social, economic and political repression.

Nurtured by his remarkable parents, George and Frances Butler, the boy child was to grow into robust manhood and was to play a leading role in those tumultuous events, events which shattered an oligarchy, brought about a second emancipation and transformed a colony into a proud, independent, parliamentary democracy. 

Today, with the launching of the biography, A Call To Service, we look back and we remember him. We remember who he was, what he did in his lifetime and what he means to our Bahamas.A young Milo Butler learned about the history of black Africans and their descendants in the New World, the gross indignities they suffered, the never-ending tribulations they endured and the daunting challenges they confronted.

He refused to be a victim of an elaborate and diabolical system of brainwashing designed to inculcate feelings of inferiority among people of African descent. 

His mind was crystal clear on the concept and the fundamental truth of the intrinsic equality of human beings regardless of race or ethnicity.

And so, in this matter, he never had to undergo what our late beloved Archdeacon William Thompson called “the process of demystification”.

What did mystify him was how some people could deny that fundamental truth of human equality. It was that obvious intellectual perversion, and the untold evil which flowed from it, that filled him with righteous anger. To him, it was simply outrageous.

Sir Milo had a powerful conviction that shackles could be removed from minds just as they had been from ankles, a belief that an entrenched unjust system could be – had to be -- brought to an end.

The late Bob Marley echoed these sentiments when he sang of the need to emancipate ourselves from mental slavery.

It was that knowledge, that belief that inspired in him a life-long commitment to the betterment of his people, to the achievement of equality, freedom and the full privileges and benefits of citizenship for all.

There were those who mistook -- or chose to mistake -- his expressions of outrage and condemnation of injustice as animosity, but those who knew him better understood that his spirit was devoid of animus.

Indeed, he was the proverbial gentle giant in his manner and in his many kindnesses to so many Bahamians and strangers within our gates.

In the same breath that he condemned the machinations of those whom he regarded as the source and perpetrators of his people’s misery, he would frequently declare: “We will not treat you the way you treat us.”

Outside the House of Assembly and the political arena, Sir Milo was a mild-mannered, soft-spoken gentleman. The voice that bellowed like thunder in the advocacy of his people’s rights, that same voice in other circumstances spoke barely above a whisper.

I share with others here present the privilege of having known Sir Milo, having been in his presence on countless occasions: in his home, on the campaign trail, in travels, and in the councils of politics and government.

I have many fond memories of special times with him. I remember how Ed Moxey and I had to sleep on the floor in Mrs. Green’s house in Mangrove Cay, Andros, because our seniors, Sir Milo and Charles Rhodriguez got the two available beds.

They were both large men, and in the slumberous state they were not exactly quiet. So Ed and I took to the beach, only to be chased back inside by swarms of mosquitoes and sandflies. At breakfast the next morning we dared not breathe a word about our nocturnal experience.

I remember once after a meeting of the House of Assembly when I was being chided by colleagues for coming to the defence of a member on the other side. Sir Milo ended the conversation with these words: “Don’t you understand? That is his friend.”

I remember at the Constitutional Conference in London when Sir Milo, who had already been designated to become the first Bahamian Governor General, approached the four Opposition delegates at the end of the table and asked if we were being treated properly.

We knew that he was not just making conversation but that any complaint from us would have elicited his immediate intervention.

He had earlier, at the very beginning of the proceedings, interrupted the Secretary of State for the Colonies by announcing that before the first item of business was undertaken, we would first approach the Throne of Grace and ask for help from the King of Kings.

Such was the nature of this man, a man who always stood up for he believed was right, a man who always championed the cause of the down-trodden, a man who respected others, a man who had his priorities right, a man who placed his God above everything else.

I cannot conclude these brief remarks without mentioning someone who was at the centre of Sir Milo’s life.

His life-long companion, who came to be known affectionately as Mother Butler, was a most remarkable person in her own right.  In addition to her role as faithful and supportive wife and nurturing mother, Mrs. Butler’s charitable works in The Bahamas were legendary. Thousands of Bahamians have had cause to thank God for the day he sent Mother Butler into their lives.

Ladies and gentlemen:

This book is aptly named A Call To Service because that was what the life of Milo Boughton Butler was all about. I thank the Butler family for undertaking this project and I thank Miss Patterson, the excellent writer they chose to produce it.

It is an invaluable contribution to the history of the making of our Commonwealth. It is an inspiring story of a man who was uncompromising in his just demands for his people, and a man who, throughout and to the end, was uncompromised in his integrity.

It is a book that we can read with unmitigated pride, and I hope that Bahamians of all ages will do just that. I am confident, Prime Minister, that the Government will assist in making it available to the young people in our schools.

May God bless the memory of Sir Milo Butler and may he continue to bless the Commonwealth of The Bahamas.

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