(BIS Photos/Andrew Miller)
GRAND BAHAMA, The Bahamas – Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, the Hon. Philip Davis bringing words of solace to a country in mourning on Monday, September 25, over the sudden passing of Member of Parliament for West Grand Bahama and Bimini and Minister of Social Services, Information and Broadcasting, the Hon. Obadiah Hercules Wilchcombe, in Grand Bahama.
Prime Minister Davis touched down in Grand Bahama a short time later after learning of Mr. Wilchcombe’s death, accompanied by a small delegation including Minister of Education and Technical & Vocational Training, the Hon. Glenys Hanna-Martin; Minister of State in the Office of the Prime Minister, the Hon. Myles LaRoda and Deputy Director of Urban Renewal Senator Kirkland Russell.
The delegation arrived at the Rand Memorial Hospital before 11:00am to a somber crowd waiting outside, viewed Minister Wilchcombe’s body and met with family members on the inside before addressing those gathered at the Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) Headquaters in a heartwarming tribute moments later.
Expressing condolences to the family, friends, loved ones and colleagues of Minister Wilchcombe, a true patriot, visionary leader and his cherished friend, the nation’s leader, in his official statement, said he was doing so with the heaviest of hearts.
“Obie’s untimely passing is very shocking and very sad. Even though he has achieved much in his many years of public service, he still had so much more to offer,” Prime Minister Davis said.
He said Minister Wilchcombe served his administration with great distinction as Member of Parliament for West Grand Bahama and Bimini and Minister of Social Services and Urban Development during the past two years.
Minister Wilchcombe, a native of Grand Bahama and former journalist, was also the Leader of Government Business in the House of Assembly.
The Prime Minister further noted that Mr. Wilchcombe’s recent appointment as Minister of Information and Broadcasting, birthed the launch of the rebranding of ZNS just last week.
That relaunch saw the unveiling of 18 new television shows set to be aired on ZNS.
Mr. Wilchcombe’s career began in 1975 as a journalist with the BCB and over the next 25 years, he rose through the ranks, holding various positions including Deputy Director of News, News Director, and Assistant General Manager.
“He was resolute and courageous in his reporting and his defence of the Fourth Estate. He is perhaps the only journalist in the country to have been sent to prison for refusing to reveal his sources, an episode that continued to traumatize him many years later,” Prime Minister Davis said.
“Although he formally began his political career in 1994, his political roots ran much deeper. His parents helped to establish the PLP branch in Grand Bahama, and he cut his teeth writing speeches for the Father of the Nation, Sir Lynden Pindling. His relationship with Sir Lynden was one which he treasured and which continued to inspire him throughout his life.”
Minister Wilchcombe held many senior offices, both within the PLP and the government as Party Chairman, Senator, Cabinet Minister and Leader of Government Business in the House.
“He will likely be remembered most for his two stints as Minister of Tourism, where his visionary initiatives, such as the introduction of Sports, Religious, and African-American Tourism, significantly enhanced the tourism product of The Bahamas,” the prime minister said.
“His contribution to the development of the film industry was exemplary, and the success of this policy was evident when two of the top three films of 2006 were shot in our beautiful nation.”
He also hailed Minister Wilchcombe as a spirited sportsman, a stalwart of the PLP, whose voice resonated as a beacon of progressiveness within the party. A man who was funny, thoughtful, had a great sense of the party’s place in history and whose favourite phrase was, “One Love,” which exemplified his worldview, symbolising unity, compassion, and a deep love for humanity.
“Ann Marie and I mourn the loss of a true patriot, a visionary leader, and a cherished friend along with the entire nation. We will miss him. May his soul rest in peace, and may his family find solace in the love and support of the people whose lives he touched profoundly,” Prime Minister Davis said.