Doctor Nicholas John Orville Liverpool: I salute him
By Rev. Dr.William W. Watty
When, in 1993, a Roll of Honour was prepared to mark the Centenary of the Dominica Grammar School, it was discovered that ten percent of the eighty names of the past students enrolled were admitted into that Mecca of education in Dominica on the same day in 1946. They included His Eminence Kelvin Cardinal Felix, His Lordship Albert Justice Matthew, His Excellency Charles Maynard and a fourth, but not the least, was His Excellency Nicholas John Orville Liverpool. With hindsight one might suppose that there was, somewhere in the depths of outer space, an unusual conjunction of the planets to have brought together in the same time and place on planet earth such a constellation of rising stars, for more names could be added than space would permit.
In 1946, the future was still unknown. The seeds of budding greatness were still buried in the soil of anonymity. There was no incipient dignity to announce a future Head of State, no dazzling piety to foretell a Prince of the Church, no sober gravity to predict a legal luminary and learned Judge. At that time we were still boys who trembled before Mr. Adolphus Jeffers in the double-period of the Wednesday Latin Class, who played about with burettes and pipettes in the Lab, when we should be doing Chemistry, and who much preferred playing Cricket at the Windsor Park with wind balls and home-made bats, than marching about town in the Cadet Corps shouldering mock-rifles; but, even then, we all knew that, come what may, Liverpool (for we only used surnames then) was destined for some kind of greatness.
There was, first of all, his natural brilliance. Where the rest of us struggled to absorb the unfamiliar subjects his magnetic brain seemed effortlessly to attract and retain what ours refused to apprehend. His IQ was clearly above the average and with a mind like that, coupled with a desire to excel, there was no summit he could not attain. But that was not all about Liverpool that made him stand out as a class-mate. He was no nerd. There was also an irrepressible cheerfulness about him. Wherever he was, there was laughter and good humour. He reveled in good company. He loved to poke fun. If ever a group of us was sullen serious and silent, it meant that he was not among us.
The result of all of this was that it was he, of all of us, who never lost touch with any of us who were his class-mates. No matter where he lived or how high he rose he kept in touch. Wherever we lived, and no matter how fleeting the visit or crowded the agenda, he found time to drop in for an hour, always bringing with him the kind of gift he knew we would not fail to appreciate. Indeed, when we wanted information about any of our class-mates, we only asked him and he was able to bring us up-to-date. It was therefore quite comical when, in search for a Head of State, my name should be mentioned alongside his as a possibility. Quite apart from my natural aversion to embarrassment, I could think of no more suitable and eligible candidate for that high office. I knew him better than I knew any of his predecessors or successors and it is out of that close acquaintance that I knew that my country was fortunate to have had his service for a period.
During the period of his Presidency, he never failed annually to visit the Senior Citizens home at Grange on the approaching Nativity festivities and he always extended the visit to my home over rugged terrain. Though it was no business of mine to mention it, I could imagine his remonstrations with the reluctant, long-suffering chauffeur. For all the President of Dominica wanted was a little space, in his crowded schedule, to improve the shining hour with an old friend in good humour and good cheer. So while, quite rightly, Dr. Liverpool will be remembered for his intellectual prowess, his learning and his devoted service to his native Dominica, the wider Caribbean and to Ghana as a scholar, a teacher and a jurist, I know that he would also have wished to be remembered as just a good friend to all who knew him well.
To the marriage of my daughter that took place last Saturday, his was the first reply to the invitation indicating that he and his wife would be present. Theirs was also the first present that arrived.
In gratitude for that friendship which began in January 1946, I salute him.