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SLU | Jan 23, 2023

Today is the birthday of two St Lucian greats, Arthur Lewis and Derek Walcott

Shemar-Leslie Louisy

Shemar-Leslie Louisy / Our Today

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The pitons in St. Lucia (Photo: absolutely.london)

The birthday of two of the Caribbean’s three Nobel laureates is today (January 23). Both Nobel Laureates Arthur Lewis and Derek Walcott were born in Castries, St Lucia in 1915 and 1930, respectively.

Arthur Lewis was an economist and the first black person to win the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences. He was awarded the prize in 1979 for his work on economic development, particularly for his analysis of the economic problems of developing countries.

Sir Arthur Lewis

Lewis was an influential economist in the field of development economics, and his work continues to be studied and debated today. He died in 1991.

The Lewis model, also known as the Lewis turning point or the dual sector model, is an economic theory proposed by Arthur Lewis in the 1950s. The model describes the process of economic development in underdeveloped countries and explains how a country can transition from a primarily agricultural economy to a modern, industrialised economy.

Castries, St. Lucia. (Photo: eastwinds.com)

The Lewis model has been influential in shaping policies and understanding of economic development in developing countries. However, the model has been criticised for its assumptions, particularly regarding the unlimited supply of surplus labour, and for overlooking the importance of factors such as education, technology, and institutions in economic development.

Derek Walcott was a St Lucian poet and playwright known for his work in both Caribbean and American literature and is considered one of the most important literary figures from the Caribbean region.

Derek Alton Walcott. (Photo: Facebook @Derek Alton Walcott)

Walcott’s work often explores themes of history, identity, and the Caribbean experience. He is known for his use of creole language and his blending of different literary traditions, drawing on both European and African influences. He is considered an important figure in the Caribbean literary canon, and his work has been widely anthologized and studied.

In 1992, Walcott was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature, being recognized “for a poetic oeuvre of great luminosity, sustained by a historical vision, the outcome of a multicultural commitment.”

He died on March 17, 2020.

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