Biography of the Hon. A. Loftus Roker

The content originally appeared on: ZNS BAHAMAS News

Archibald Loftus Roker was born on 25th August 1935 in Delectable Bay, Acklins to Mr. Elkin and Mrs. Dolores Theodora Roker (nee Hanna) of Delectable Bay, Acklins. He obtained his early education at the Public School at Pompey Bay, Acklins, and the Western Senior High School in New Providence. Later, he worked at the Bahamas Telecommunications Department’s transmission station at Perpall Tract in Nassau. After successfully sitting his General Certificate of Education Examinations (GCE’s), he transitioned from the Telecommunications Company topursue a law degree at the University of London and Middle Temple. There he obtained a Bachelor of Laws degree in 1961 and was called to the English Bar in 1962.

Mr. Roker returned home to The Bahamas and established his private law practice, becoming one of the few black lawyers operating in the country at that time.

Intrigued by politics, A. Loftus Roker launched his political career at the early age of 20, becoming one of the youngest standard bearers for the Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) to contest a seat for the House of Assembly. Mr. Roker ran in the 1968 General Elections and successfully contested his seat to become the representative for the Nicholls Town and Berry Islands Constituency. Between 1968 and 1971 he served as Chairman of the Gaming Board and as a member of the Advisory Council to the Ministry of Education. He was also a member of the National General Council (NGC) of the Progressive Liberal Party (PLP), the official policy formation body of the party outside of a National General Convention.

In December of 1971, then Prime Minister Sir Lynden Pindling appointed Mr. Roker to the post of Minister of Health and Housing. In this role he was responsible for overseeing the Ministry and Department of Health, the Sanitation Department, the Public Analyst Laboratory, and the Department of Housing.

On 20th December 1972, Mr. Roker, along with 14 other Parliamentary colleagues, made history when they signed the nation’s independence constitutional order. He indicated in an interview with the Nassau Guardian on 24th December 2012 that he sat on every committee established to draft the new constitution before independence, but he stated that “real independence occurred when the British agreed for us to get independence. It felt good to me because I believed in freedom.”

The Hon. A. Loftus Roker’s ministerial appointments continued. In August 1975, Prime Minister Lynden O. Pindling appointed him Acting Minister of Works and Utilities subsequently confirming him in that post in January 1976. Later in 1985, Mr. Roker was appointed Minister of National Security. During his tenure, the issue of illegal immigration was aggressively addressed. Mr. Roker held the strong view that the government should have the ability to control the influx of immigrants into the country. In addition to the Department of Immigration, his portfolio included the Royal Bahamas Police Force, the Prisons Department, The Royal Bahamas Defence Force, The Gaming Board, the Parliamentary Registration Department, and the Department of Lands and Surveys.

Known for his strong stance in protecting the national sovereignty of The Bahamas, guarding our heritage and the national identity of the Bahamian people, Mr. Roker was highly regarded in many circles as one who defended the honour and integrity of The Bahamas against unfair criticism or its critics.

Delivering a compelling retirement speech in the House of Assembly in April 1987, the Hon. A. Loftus Roker stated, “I am a black nationalist. I believe in black leadership. I believe that black people like other people are capable of reaching the highest heights of excellence.”

The then Speaker of the House of Assembly Sir Clifford Darling lauded Mr. Roker for his contributions to the development of The Bahamas. He opined that the Hon. A. Loftus Roker had fought a good fight, and his decorum and contribution to the democratic process would be missed by the House.

Long after Mr. Roker’s retirement from public life, he remained a highly sought after national voice of advice and reason, effectively using various public platforms to offer sage advice, critique and frank commentary on any number of matters of national import affecting the lives of ordinary Bahamians including public policy, governance, and official conduct in public life.

Mr. A. Loftus Roker has been one of the country’s most ardent defenders and sternest critics where and when necessary. Such was his love for The Bahamas.

He relocated to his beloved home of Acklins, where he spent much of his time. During an official ceremony held at the campus of Acklins Central High School in Pompey Bay, August 4, 2023, Prime Minister and Minister of Finance the Hon. Philip Davis, along with cabinet ministers gathered to recognize Mr. Roker — former Parliamentarian and Cabinet Minister — at the renaming of the Acklins school in his honour. The honour was bestowed at the Golden Jubilee Anniversary of Bahamas Independence. The Acklins Central High School wasrenamed the A. Loftus Roker High School.

A devout Anglican, Mr. Roker was an accomplished mariner and seafarer who also enjoyed fishing, swimming, and a few rounds of golf.He was married to Ruby Louise (nee Livingston).