Clement ‘Bouncin’ Williams C.S.M.
Clement David Obadiah Williams, affectionately known as ‘Bouncin’ was born on August 13, 1948 to Miss Lucille Richards, a Kittitian huckster and food vendor, and Nevisian Benjamin Williams, who worked at the St. Kitts Sugar Manufacturing Corporation. Clement was said to be a “bouncing baby boy” weighing 10 pounds and 13 ounces at birth. He was born and raised in Newtown, baptized at the Wesley Methodist Church in Basseterre, but moved to Shaw Avenue, McKnight when his parents married.
His early schooling was at Mrs. White’s Private Pre-School. He entered the Basseterre Boys’ School in January 1956. Six years later, on January 4th 1962 he entered the Basseterre Grammar School. Clement was the first member of his family, in all generations to have attended Grammar School.
Clement’s first employment outside of the family business came in the summer 1964 at the Carib Brewery Factory where he would work for a week or two at a time, when they were bottling beer. He would join the line at the brewery and wait for the manager, an Englishman named Craig, who would come by around 6:30 a.m. to select guys from the line. Mr. Redhead had a good memory of those who had been fired in the past or were lazy. These he would pass over but Bouncin was always chosen. Drinking the produce was not allowed but Bouncin and his friends found creative ways of getting around the prohibition. After completing his first two days at the Brewery, he received his first pay envelope containing Six EC Dollars, Three dollars per day. Bouncin went to the Brewery for day jobs for three years during the Easter and summer vacations.
Bouncin attended the University of the West Indies Cave Hill Campus in October 1970 where he graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Natural Sciences and Mathematics and later the University of Reading in the UK with a Masters of Science in Chemical Education.
Mr. Williams entered the teaching profession in 1968 and was assigned to the then Sandy Point High School. He immersed himself in the school and forged a special bond with some of the staff. He was a member of a female dominated group called ‘The Boyz’. This group consisted of Ms. Williams – aunty Loro; Mrs. Leader – Singing Jackie; Mrs. Fraites-Carey; Miss Mills – now Mrs. Diamond- Livy; Mrs. Mary Clarke – Mem and Mrs. Kerinda Warner- Ruder dan dem.
This group and the staff of the school in general, benefited from the full force of Mr. Williams’ friendship and generosity. He supplied lunch at times; provided money to ensure that a female member of staff could dress modestly; he even gave a ticket to a friend when he realized that a husband and wife would spend their first Valentine’s Day apart.
He also taught at the former Verchilds All Age School, Cayon High School and the Basseterre High School and served as a Curriculum Development Officer in the Ministry of Education. His students loved him or feared him but either way, they were inspired to do well. Bouncin was one of those exceptional teachers that went the extra mile to make sure that students understood the material that he taught. He stayed late with students, conducted extra classes and at times went as far to bring groups of students to sleep at his home for weekend-long classes to prepare them for exams. He believed that education was seminal to success and upward mobility, and had a particular affinity to students from poorer families. He pushed and worked harder to see them do well and elevate themselves.
In addition to teaching, he became a chemistry examiner, module writer and territorial coordinator with the Caribbean Examinations Council (CXC). In 1989, he was one of three authors of the CXC School Based Assessment (SBA) Manuals in Biology, Chemistry and Integrated Science, which are still in use regionally today. Prior to his retirement, he was also the national Secondary School Science Coordinator, a Curriculum Development Officer and the recipient of a number of awards from the Government of St. Kitts and Nevis and the St. Kitts Teachers’ Association for his contributions to culture and education. Even after he retired, he still held classes at the Washington Archibald High for students, school leavers or just persons who needed additional help in maths and sciences. Mr. Williams was an educational giant. He devoted many years to a profession that opens doors and provides the greatest foundation for hope and optimism to flourish. He understood that he taught students, not a class. During this tenure as a teacher, he encouraged many persons to peruse advanced education especially in the areas of Mathematics and Science. Scholars, and even the seemingly not so scholarly who sat at his feet, achieved academic success. The ripple effect produced numerous professionals in various fields.
Clement Bouncin Williams has been characterized as “a veritable man for all seasons who was well-known in the community” mainly through his work in the promotion of the creative arts. His work as a prolific Playwright and Author, particularly as Co- Founder, Artistic Director and Producer of the National Players Theatre Movement (NPTM) kept the genre of Theatre alive within the Federation. Under Bouncin’s direction, NPTM had a steady and acclaimed run between 1976 to 2001 with productions like “Moon on a Rainbow Shawl”, “One of Our Sons is Missing”, “King Kobo”, “A Raisin in the Sun”, “Papa Look the Priest Passing”, “Mamaguy” and “Storm Without a Breeze”. NPTM is, to date, perhaps the longest running, most consistent and most successful theatre movement in St. Kitts and Nevis and this was primarily due to the passion, talent and energy of Bouncin Williams. The group had a ten- year hiatus but in 2011, he conceded that he missed the stage and began writing and producing again. New NPTM members were recruited and production began to roll again with plays such as “Old Story Time”, “Let’s Laugh Again” and a repeat of “Storm Without a Breeze”.
In 2012, he published his autobiography “My Early Life in St. Kitts and Nevis” much to the pleasure of citizens at home and abroad who have relished in the stories and imagery of his account of life in the 1950s and 60s. In 2014, he also published “Storm Without a Breeze” which contains the scripts of three plays he wrote over his forty-year long pastime as a playwright, humourously and creatively tackling societal issues ranging from health and religion to politics to economics.
Clement a grassroot man, loved to be in the presence of the common and ordinary people. He loved social commentary and was a natural feature of every calypso commentary production. He was always ready to have heated yet friendly debate on the topical issues of the day.
He contributed to nation building in many forms. For example, as a longstanding taxi and tour operator, he served as Coordinator and technical trainer for the Ministry of Tourism’s Taxi Operator training programs and even published a guide outlining historical facts about sites that persons would encounter on an island tour. As a political enthusiast, in 2006, he was named to the Electoral Reform Consultative Committee, which spent more than 10 weeks that year consulting with citizens and residents of St. Kitts and Nevis, and with nationals living abroad.
In 2015, Williams was invested with the Companion Star of Merit (CSM) for his contributions to the advancement of science, education and culture. It is one of the highest civilian honours that the Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis bestows on its sons and daughters. Additionally, he was a member on the Board of Directors of the St. Kitts, Nevis Anguilla National Bank. A man for all seasons and a much respected and loved National of St. Kitts-Nevis. His contribution to the social, educational and historical development of St. Kitts-Nevis is legendary.
Clement David Obadiah Williams, C.S.M. passed away 31st August 2018 at the age of 70. He was survived by his wife; Cynthia Willams; his two children, Jomo and Jihan Williams; his three grandchildren, Omoj, Jo’mya and Xavier Williams; and numerous other family and friends.
Please visit the National Museum Gift Shop to purchase his books ‘My early Life on St. Kitts and Nevis’ and ‘Storm without a Breeze’.