By The Rt. Hon. Perry G Christie
I am deeply saddened by the passing of Sir Charles Carter, one of our nation’s greatest cultural icons and statesmen. At a more personal level, I mourn his passing as a dear friend and valued political colleague for nearly half a century.
It is difficult to conceive of what the cultural development of the modern Bahamas would look like without Charles Carter. He was in this respect a veritable tour de force in so many different ways, each of them incredibly impactful and uplifting.
More than any other radio personality of his or any other age, Charles Carter was the greatest exponent of indigenous Bahamian music that we have ever had. For decades, his “Young Bahamian” Show celebrated the musical and creative genius of The Bahamas in such a profoundly learned and interesting way that it is unlikely ever to be matched. This was immensely important for us, a people struggling to develop a unique cultural identity and consciousness in the years preceding and then following the attainment of national Independence.
History will recall that Charles Carter was absolutely central to this cultural awakening. He was a master interviewer and talk show host who commanded the attention of Bahamians of all generations. And he used this attention not just to entertain us but to celebrate and inspire us to excellence while at the same time educating us from his vast storehouse of knowledge on all things Bahamian, especially Bahamian music, history, and intellectual thought.
Sir Charles would go on to do the same for television broadcasting as he had done for radio, beginning with the inauguration of public television in the 1970s. He played a pivotal, pioneering role in this, along with the late Calsey Johnson.
Following his extraordinary career in public radio and television broadcasting, Charles would go on to have an illustrious, albeit shorter, a career in politics and national governance. This period of his life of service to the Bahamian people included two terms as the MP for Holy Cross; nearly four years as an important Cabinet minister, initially as Minister of Foreign Affairs and later as Minister of Health; then as Leader of the Opposition in the Senate.
Sir Charles served in all these roles with complete integrity. He was a thoroughly honest servant of the Bahamian people, admired for his impeccable devotion to duty and his exemplary ability to always put the national interest over party politics and self-interest. It was no wonder then that Charles would earn and sustain the approval of his fellow Bahamians irrespective of where they stood on the political spectrum. His love for them and his determination to treat all persons with dignity and fairness “marked the manner of his bearing” throughout his public life.
Following his retirement from frontline politics, Charles returned to his first love as a radio broadcaster, but this time as the owner of his own radio station – Island FM. As in everything else he did, whether in politics or in his various other business interests, Charles distinguished himself in this new enterprise that gave him so much personal pleasure and satisfaction.
Charles also continued to give service to the nation as the chairman of various public commissions or ad hoc bodies. I well recall from my time as Prime Minister how eager he always was to respond to whatever call for public service I would make upon him from time to time. He was, for my colleagues and me in government, an enduring and dependable fount of wise counsel and loyal support.
One of the things I was especially pleased to do as Prime Minister was to recommend Charles Carter for the knighthood he so thoroughly deserved and which Her Majesty was pleased to confer upon him in 2016 in recognition of his vast and varied contributions to the life and upliftment of the Bahamian nation. It was for me, a small token of the great debt of gratitude we allowed Charles for his magnificent life of service and accomplishment.
On behalf of my wife, Bernadette, and on my own behalf, I extend deepest condolences to Sir Charles’s widow, Muriel Lady Carter and their two sons, Mark and Eddie, and all their family.
We are truly the poorer for the passing of this great Bahamian, but we console ourselves with the certain knowledge that our life as a people is incredibly richer for Sir Charles Carter having passed our way.
May he rest in Peace and Rise in Glory.