With the death of Edward Registe, Grand Bay loses another champion
One gets the sense of "déjà vu all over again", to quote Yogi Berra. For it was not long ago that Pierre Charles, who took over from the deceased Prime Minister Rosie Douglas untimely death, cast a dark cloud of sorrow over the community of Grand Bay.
Similar to Charles, after attending what would eventually be his last Cabinet meeting, Edward Registe, the parliamentary representative for the Grand Bay constituency and minister of state in the ministry of foreign affairs, international business and diaspora relations, with specific responsibility for diaspora relations, was rushed to the hospital. He was pronounced dead on September 1, 2021.
Giving an account of the life of one of his closest friends, Crispin Gregoire, retired ambassador of Dominica to the United Nations and former special adviser to the president of the UN informed the Sun that since Registe grew up without a father figure, he was the prized jewel of his mother.
According to Mrs. Magdalene Registe who spoke to DBS radio the morning of his passing, her son left home for work the previous day and after being informed that he was taken to the hospital, she received a call from him later that evening and he complained of feeling unwell but was unsure of the cause.
Mrs Registe disclosed that sometime after 4: 00 o'clock the morning of his passing, she received a call informing her that her son had gone into cardiac arrest and shortly after, the family was informed of his death.
"It is a very sad situation for us because Ed was the right-hand man in that house for us," she said. "He was really a very charming man and it's a sad situation."
A true example of a son raised by the village of Grand Bay, Dominica's cultural capital, as a boy, Registe was shaped by the 1974 Geneva revolution, the Kwéyòl movement of the 1970s, L' Echelle and other youth groups in Grand Bay, Cadence music's evolution in the 1970s, the Popular Independence Committee (PIC), and the emergence of the Dominica nation.
As he matured into adulthood, Registe began to shape institutions, notably the National Youth Council (NYC), where he served as president and continued to be instrumental in the council through the 1980s- 2000s.
Deeply spiritual from boyhood, Registe was an active member of the Grand Bay Catholic Church till his passing.
He possessed "God-given talent" responsible in large part for his many achievements, such as agriculturist, a journalist with DBS news, manager of Midnight Groovers, chairman of the Grand Bay Village Council, chairman of the Grand Bay Cooperative Credit Union and public relations officer of DOWASCO.
After many years of working closely with Gregoire to help the former prime minister secure victory, politics was nothing new to Registe; therefore, his appointment as a Dominica Labour Party (DLP) senator and Deputy Speaker of the House of Assembly in 2014 came as no surprise.
Later on, as the general secretary of the DLP, he contested the Grand Bay seat for the party in the 2019 general elections and emerged victoriously.
When questioned on whether Registe was one who Gregoire would have labelled as a politician, he responded, "Yes, it was just a natural progression, because once he left high school he demonstrated, that he had this interest in youth empowerment and he just focused on that and did a good job at it, so it was a natural progression for him to go into politics."
However, Gregoire, who managed the DLP's 2000 and 2005 general election campaigns, expressed dismay that Registe who he described as a "great humanitarian commitment to improving the lives of humanity" was only appointed as a junior minister.
"Our Grand Bay people have been the frontline of the Labour Party and somebody who has such talent and experience like Ed did, it was a put down for our constituency not to get the full ministry," he said. "We hope that can be remedied in the future but Grand Bay is an important part of the Labour Party and if they want to ignore us then we might have to think of our future in another arena"
Based on conversation the two friends had, the former UN ambassador highlighted that some of the projects which Registe wanted to accomplish soon were the rehabilitation of the Ma Tutu's park which was damaged by Hurricane Maria, the building of a seaport in Stowe to enhance economic relations with Martinique, the installation of a water bottling plant in Grand Bay, the revival of culture in his constituency as well as the straw industry.
"He came from a humble background and built a persona that we can never forget. And I just feel that he made a real contribution to Dominica's development in this post-independence period, and his name will forever be etched in the annals of Dominica's nation's history," Gregoire said.
Painting a vivid picture of just how selfless the junior minister was, Father Branker John, the Grand Bay parish priest, told a candlelight vigil that the Registe would always prioritize the happiest and needs of others above his own and this was demonstrated following Hurricane Maria in 2017.
"If you all don't believe me, all you have to do is come to Grand Bay and see Ed's house. Since Hurricane Maria, Ed's house still has plywood covering all the entrances and windows and it is in a dilapidated state," he said. "I said to Ed, 'Ed, fix your house, man' and he would say to me 'Father, I have to help the people first, I will come after."
Before anyone else can attempt to fill Registe's big shoes, one of his comrades, Jeno Jacob, the manager of Dominica's landfill at the Dominica Solid Waste Management Corporation is calling for a "spiritual soul searching" within the community as he has said that "too much of our leaders or potential leaders are dying."
"First, we lost Pierre Charles, then Noreen John, then James Alexander and now Ed. We need to pray for our community to find out what's happening," Jacob said to the Sun.
He is also calling for a monument to be named in honour of Registe and Charles, who he credits for the advancement of the Grand Bay constituency.
This call has also been echoed by Registe's right-hand he proposed that the government name the newly built bridge which was damaged by Hurricane Maria after Registe, whom Cleo Letham spoke highly of as her childhood friend. So had plans to upgrade the road network and rebuild the community centre.
"I will miss him. The morning of his passing he called and he told me to prepare his favourite ginger tea for him and when he was going home he would pick it up. I am still waiting for him to come to collect it," she said.