A Tribute to Camille Baly

POSTED: 09/18/12 12:44 PM

St. Maarten / By Oswald Francis – It has been over two weeks now that St. Maarten bade farewell to one of its finest sons, Camille Ector Baly, educator, historian and cultural icon.
I first met Mr. Baly in 1980 while on a sabbatical-leave from the All Saints Secondary School in Antigua where I was head of the Science Department. I was impressed by his brilliant intellect, impeccable diction and command of the English Language. Most people with these fine attributes tend to be arrogant and aloof, but he was as humble as could be.
When he discovered that I was also an educator he remarked,”Mr. Francis, you have made your contribution to Antigua and as an Antillean why not do the same for St. Maarten, you are one of us.”
Well, I did not need any more encouragement, the following year I resigned my position and moved to St. Maarten where I have been ever since. Our friendship blossomed and whenever we met, it would be impossible not to be engaged in passionate discussions about the social, political and economic development of St. Maarten. He was a real patriot.
I am blessed to have been his friend for all these years. My only regret was that he passed on before I completed my book, “In Emilio Wilson Park With Paben.” In this book I used the character of Paben to demonstrate the great qualities of St. Maarteners in all spheres of life.
Camille graciously accepted to be the keynote speaker at the launching of my book. I can recall vividly when he said to me, “I am honoured and thrilled that you have considered me. Just let me know when you are ready and I’ll be there.” Alas! That was not to be.
Although I did not tell him that he was featured in the book, I am happy that I have recorded my thoughts about him. Here is an excerpt from “In Emilio Wilson Park With Paben.”

Gold Under The Tammon Tree
The Emilio Wilson Posse was assembled at 4:00 P.M once more to hear their mentor, Paben relate another spellbinding story. They sat quietly, eyes focused intensely on him wondering what he had in store for them.
The silence was finally broken when Yeru remarked, “Guys, one of the things that I admire mostly about Paben, is his punctuality. He is never late!”
“Indeed!” replied Kurran as he tried to mimick the old wise man. Everyone roared with laughter even the old man Paben joined in with his famous, “Heh, heh, heh, hee eh! O yo yooy. What a ting! Meh son, you sound just like me!”
As the laughter simmered down Paben said, “My children, me Paben, happy to see that you are observing me, because I want to instill good and wholesome values in you, and one of them is punctuality. As a community I do not think that we value time enough. My good friend Mr. Camille Baly, in my opinion, the greatest educator St. Maarten has ever produced used to say, “Punctuality is the politeness of kings,” and since he is a king, he makes sure he is always on time. I agree with that one hundred percent!”
“Oh, Mr. Camille Baly, yes I know him,” remarked Kamilah. “He is a friend of my grandfather’s. Grand dad told us that he is St. Maarten’s most brilliant educator and historian.”
“Indeed!” replied Paben. “Your grand dad is right. One of these days I will give a history of all St. Maarten’s icons, including Camille Baly.”
Camille has left an indelible impression on us all, and we thank God for his contribution to this beautiful country. May we be inspired by his lofty ideals as a fledgling nation, to strive for excellence. To his family I say, rest assured that God has called him home for nobler service. May his soul rest in perpetual peace.

Did you like this? Share it:
A Tribute to Camille Baly by

Comments are closed.