Sir C. A. Paul Southwell
“Lives of great men all remind us, we can make our lives sublime and departing, leave behind us, footprints on the sand of time.“
And so the life of Caleb Azariah Paul Southwell is indelibly imprinted in the historical sands of the great Labour Movement of St. Kitts-Nevis and Anguilla. Born in Dominica in a humble home to Joseph and Amelia Southwell, he attended Elementary School and became a Pupil Teacher at the tender age of thirteen.
In 1938, young Southwell joined the Leeward Islands Police Force – Dominica at that time was a Presidency of the Leeward Islands – and served until 1944 when he left the Force to accept a clerical post at the St. Kitts Sugar Factory where he worked up to 1948. Southwell was a people’s man and was engaged in the struggle for better working conditions for the downtrodden of the Colony.
He championed the cause of Labour and by 1946 was elected Vice-President of the Union, a post which he held until his death. He also served the Workers League, now the St. Kitts-Nevis Labour Party, as Treasurer. Mr. Southwell was a politician of great persuasion. He was at ease with the man on the street, just as he was with those of rank and power.
He was at one time the President of the Mutual Improvement Society, a literary organization founded in 1901 in St. Kitts. He was the founder of the St. Kitts-Nevis Arts Festival in 1964, and participated in several drama presentations. He insisted on presentations of the works of Shakespeare and even portrayed Shakespearean characters in a number of plays. He was a humanitarian of no mean repute and with his wife, Gladys, met the needs of many who were among the less fortunate. He was an astute and tactical politician and groomed his constituency well.
When Southwell became the candidate for East Basseterre, he put in place an organization with a structure, which appointed a person as overseer for each polling division. That person reported regularly on the state of the division and knew of every birth, death or public need that obtained there. He drove through the constituency every morning on his way to Government Headquarters, his residence at that time in Fortlands.
He was the pioneer for the development of the Tourism Industry, as well as the Industrial Sites in the State. His immense work in the development of the Frigate Bay area will always be remembered, as the fruits we enjoy now from his vision, are nourishing.
Kittitians of all walks of life would remember his “Heart to Heart” talks on Radio ZIZ. Jimmy Carter, in 1979, in paying tribute to him had this to say. “Premier Southwell was an important leader in Caribbean politics and, through the years, enjoyed the respect of all for his constant and courageous commitment to human rights; we will all feel the loss of this long-time spokesman for West Indian Unity.”