The University of the West Indies said today that the passing of Sir Selvyn Walter represents a monumental loss of intellectual forte, cultural pride and patriotism for the nation of Antigua and Barbuda and the university community.
Sir Selvyn, a former member of parliament in Antigua and Barbuda and a celebrated writer, passed away on September 14. “The UWI community extends heartfelt condolences to Sir Selvyn’s family, friends and colleagues,” the university said.
Sir Selvyn attended The UWI Mona campus in the 60s and played a leading role in what at the time was an extremely successful debate team. Throughout his career and retirement, people continuously sought his perspective on matters pertinent to local and regional issues.
“Sir Selvyn was a renaissance man,” the UWI said. “His significant contributions to his country were immense and varied, spanning culture, commerce, history, music, the literary arts and politics. He was a prolific writer, chronicling culture, folklore, history and sports in books and series. His rivalled literary collections with his collection of artefacts, making his home a veritable museum. Sir Selvyn also built a solid reputation, starting early in life and continuing through his later years, as a newspaperman, lending his knowledge and expertise to nation building via the fourth estate. He was a teacher and motivator, generously sharing what he knew with anyone with whom he came in contact. In addition, he was an orator extraordinaire, whether he was speaking with politicians, captains of industry or keeping court with the customers to his bakery. He loved his country, he loved people and he loved to laugh,” it added.
Politically, Sir Selvyn secured his place in history when as a young, first-time challenger defeated a four-time and senior incumbent, Sir Vere C Bird in the 1971 election. He served as Minister of Economic Development and Tourism in the Progressive Labour Movement administration.
Although he stopped journeying to the media company where he last worked circa 2014, Sir Selvyn continued to write and give guidance from home for a long time afterward.
He was conferred with knighthood in 2013, on the nation’s 32nd anniversary of Independence.