National Heroes Day – A Salute to Marie Holt

Today in Jamaica is National Heroes Day where the nation recognizes those individuals who contributed to the development of the island.

Over the years, I would get asked, who was the number 1 inspiring person that I knew personally, beyond family. Who was my local heroic figure growing up in Old Harbour, Jamaica?

My number one answer was always Marie Holt.

I knew Marie from my childhood days in Old Harbour as she lived with her Aunt Clar and Mr Pryce. The Pryce family home was like a youth centre to many of us back in the late 1970s early 1980s.

I used to look at Marie in amazement at her strong work ethic, her energy and at how she got things done professionally. Her independence and leadership was clear for us to see. Never one to suffer fools, Marie’s attitude exuded confidence and brought admiration from across the Old Harbour community.

Despite her tiny stature, Marie was just someone you could never forget. She simply held your attention. Her talents extraordinary.

A truly remarkable Jamaican, Marie left us last month, aged 67.

Thankfully, Marie’s story was shared to the wider Jamaica through media reports over the years. Such as the following articles:

  1. “She is a marvel” – 1992
  2. “I used to put the scissors between my toes and cut the material to make like a shirt or skirt, or anything I wanted,” – 2015
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Bailey vs Khan – London 2020

Shaun Bailey, 47, was recently selected as the Conservative Party’s candidate for the 2020 Mayor of London race. This announcement has not made a big splash beyond political media circles. But it really should.

Shaun Bailey is black of Jamaican ancestry. Whether we agree with optics or not, to see a black man representing the Conservatives for one of the most powerful jobs in UK public life, is indeed a major moment.

Up to 20 years ago a British black Conservative in the public eye was a rarity. Back then such persons would be ridiculed and called all sorts of derogatory names. They were viewed with suspicion and faced disrespect by some of their own white Conservative colleagues.

Bailey grew up in West London. A former community youth worker, he has been a regular voice in the media for 2 decades.

In 2010, Bailey worked as an adviser for newly-elected Prime Minister David Cameron. But Bailey’s experience did not go well as he felt sidelined by the mostly Etonian posse at Downing Street. By 2013 Bailey moved on to a dead-end post at the Cabinet Office, taking a 25 grand-plus pay cut. Since 2016, Bailey has been a member of the London Assembly.

Not long after Bailey’s selection for the Mayor of London race, the Labour Party machine and other groups began painting Bailey as a racist, an Islamophobe and the architect of the police cuts in London.

Labour MP Louise Haigh wrote last week:

So the Tories have chosen as their candidate to run for Mayor in 2020. Lets not forget that he helped implement crippling cuts to the police and youth services when advising in Number 10. He won’t keep Londoners” safe.

Labour MP Tulip Siddiq added:

“A pro-Brexit Tory candidate responsible for damaging youth and police cuts with David Cameron? Shaun Bailey would be dreadful for London. Bring on the campaign!”

Siddiq’s false statement that any middle level adviser has such powers to cut spending is embarrassing. When she knows full and well that such cuts were driven by the Chancellor of the Exchequer.

Bailey has had racist slander flung at him by Labour before.

Kensington MP, Emma Dent Coad posted in a 2010 blog about Bailey “Who can say where this man will ever fit in, however hard he tries? One day he is the ‘token ghetto boy’ standing behind D Cameron, the next ‘looking interested’ beside G Osborne. Ever felt used?”

Coad apologised years later in the lamest of fashion

“If he was offended by me repeating what other people have said then I do apologise.”Clearly, I shouldn’t have repeated it. People have taken it the wrong way.”

If Bailey has any chance of unseating the incumbent Labour Party Mayor – Sadiq Khan – then has to run a campaign so different from previous Tory Mayoral candidates. Who Bailey selects as his campaign spokesperson will be critical going into 2020. Bailey has to be visible immediately to the general public. He has to be consistent and clear with his messaging.

Naturally, Bailey has to campaign 20 times harder than any previous Conservative London Mayoral candidate.

Bailey has to campaign hard in those Labour strongholds such as Brent, Waltham Forest, Lambeth, Southwark, Hackney, Newham and Camden to have any chance of becoming Mayor. I am amazed that Bailey has never appeared on BBC’s flagship political discussion show, Question Time. He should try and become a regular guest on the show.

After Bailey was selected as the Tory candidate, some media houses went with Windrush type headlines such as…

  1. “Tories select Windrush descendant Shaun Bailey as London Mayoral candidate to topple Sadiq Khan”The Sun
  2. “Shaun Bailey: Tories choose Windrush descendant to fight Sadiq Khan in London mayoral election” – Sky News
  3. “Tories select Windrush descendant and ex Cameron adviser Shaun Bailey as their London Mayoral candidate as it is revealed the party has just 15,000 members in the capital” – Daily Mail

Yet in June 2018 Bailey wrote about the ongoing Windrush scandal:

“Over recent months, we have witnessed long-term residents unable to produce documentary evidence of their right to live and work in the UK, leading to doubt over their eligibility to access healthcare, pensions, and benefits. This was a Home Office error that led to significant ramifications for those affected…

The Government’s response could have been swifter, but it was robust. They have established an advice helpline, offered help to residents to obtain relevant documentation, and set up a compensation scheme for those affected. This will go a long way to try to right this wrong, although the key thing to ensure is that it never happens again.”

Bailey’s reaction to the Windrush scandal looked so weak. He has said little since on the subject. When really he should have been more outspoken.

During future debates, media interviews and town hall discussions, Bailey is bound face questions over his Party’s handling of the Windrush scandal, which is far from being resolved.  Has Bailey discussed the Windrush scandal with the Home Secretary?  Bailey’s reaction to the Windrush scandal, going forward, is vitally important if he hopes to get many votes from the Afro Caribbean community; who genrally vote for the Labour Party.

Bailey will be challenged over his policies and views on post-BREXIT, transport, immigration, crime, jobs, housing and racism.

Bailey will face scrutiny over a his 2005 report – No Man’s Land  – How the inner city young being failed. Where his views on multi-cultural Britain is bound to raise eyebrows during the campaign.

” You don’t know what to do. You bring your children to school and they learn far more about Diwali than Christmas. I speak to the people who are from Brent and they’ve been having Muslim and Hindi days off. What it does is rob Britain of its community. Without our community we slip into a crime riddled cesspool.” -Bailey 2005

What could help Bailey’s campaign – in the long run –  will be public endorsements/good news outcomes from the young people he encouraged when he was a youth officer.

I was hoping Bailey would keep away from the normal mudslinging negative electioneering and run mostly an aspiring campaign. Focus more on his own plans and ambitions for London and less on attacking his rivals.

But already within 24 hours since his victory Bailey attacked Khan on crime. Bailey also slammed the Labour’s Party’s ties to the trade union. Bailey needs to ease off on the trade union bashing. As those members are some of the voters he needs to pry from Khan to get into City Hall.

Khan’s time at City Hall has proved to be a major disappointment. Khan’s handling of crime and transport has come in for constant criticism.

Some Labour supporters were angry with Khan’s constant digs against Jeremy Corbyn. Some felt Khan’s comments about Corbyn was a betrayal. Given how the Labour leader campaigned for Khan during the 2016 Mayoral elections.

I wish them well.

Maybe its time for the next mayor of this great city to be a non-seasoned political figure. An independent-leaning mayor that can bridge the political divide with their policies, leadership and personality.

I would love to see other figures join the 2020 race who have leadership experience outside politics. People like Kanya King,  Richard Branson, Brian Moore, Heather Rabbatts, Martha Lane Fox or even motormouth Piers Morgan.

In a post-BREXIT Britain the role of the Mayor of London will be of such importance than at any other time since the role was created in 2000.

Well known respected playwright and broadcaster, Bonnie Greer tweeted last week that she heard Bailey speak once and from that experience felt Mayor Khan would win easily in 2020.

But Bonnie, Londoners heard Boris Johnson speak for decades and still gave him the keys to City Hall. Twice!

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Bailey’s Bid

Update: Tory London mayor candidate targeted by Labour race hate trolls – Evening Standard

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Kaepernick+Nike Inc – It’s a Big Deal

Last week we heard that Nike Inc. had selected NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick as one of the main faces for its 30th anniversary “Just Do It” campaign. The deal is rumoured to be a huge figure but the terms were not disclosed. Kaepernick first signed with Nike in 2011.

Some have welcomed the Kaepernick/Nike deal, whilst the anti-Kaepernick coalition condemned Nike for this “unpatriotic” deal. We now learn that Nike has supported Kap during his current unfair “ban” from the NFL which started in early 2017.

Media narrative is a strange thing sometimes. The liberal media and supporters are all over Kaepernick and praising him over his social activism. He has received multiple awards and plaudits for his activism. Today the left deem Kap a hero.

But the said liberal media/political establishment quietly blocked out coverage of when Kaepernick first started kneeling at the start of NFL games during the final months of the Obama administration. During that period Kap’s stance was deemed a side issue for the media as he had in one statement pissed off both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton supporters in the run up to the 2016 US Presidential elections.

“I mean, you have Hillary who’s called black teens or black kids super predators. You have Donald Trump who’s openly racist. I mean, we have a presidential candidate [Hillary Clinton] who’s deleted emails and done things illegally and is a presidential candidate. That doesn’t make sense to me, because if that was any other person, you’d be in prison.” – Kaepernick, 2016

I have long admired Kap for his activism. I do not agree with all his statements but that’s besides the point. He stood up when many others in loftier positions – especially those lazy politicians – have stayed silent for too long on blacks  and the unfairness of the criminal justice systems.

I am disappointed that Kap has been black balled by all the NFL team owners for his activism. It is a shame that the players did not even threaten to down tools for one week in solidarity for Kap.

However, last season the kneeling during the playing of the US national anthem was over played by the NFL players. Yes, protest occasionally but not before every match. They are pissing off those fans who view NFL matches as their weekly escapism from the realities of life for 3 hours.

The constant kneeling by players diluted any impact to their protests and what the players were actually standing up for. The kneeling/sitting down during the playing of national anthem became the story not the issues they were protesting about. Any effective protest has to have an element of surprise just as Kap did back in August 2016.

Kaepernick has not done himself much favour since first taking the knee with fellow San Francisco 49ers team-mates such as Eli Harold and Eric Reid. Sadly Reid too is now out of a NFL job. Harold has recently moved to play for the Detroit Lions.

In 2017, Kaepernick should really have done more one-on-one interviews with the media to get his concerns across more effectively.  At least Eric Reid appeared on The View.

Kaepernick , Reid and Harold have always said their protest is not about the flag or US Armed Forces. But their enemies deliberately ignore this reasoning and are quick to condemn these players at unpatriotic Americans.

So the current outrage this week is mainly because Kaepernick is getting money and the anti-Kap brigade are just on envy street. As they must have hoped for Kap to suffer and fall on hard times following his ban from the NFL.

I am glad Kap is getting this money and we know from his previous voluntary work that he will put some towards noble and worthy causes. Kaepernick could use his positive standing to discuss his concerns with those men and women in power on Capitol Hill and indeed the White House.

The Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) has come out in support of Kaepernick. But why has the CBC not held extended discussions with Kaepernick?

One of Kaepernick’s biggest concerns was with how the US criminal justice systems deals with black people. Especially the levels of police brutality.

Yet there has been White House discussions in 2018 about prison reform under the leadership of Democratic strategist Van Jones and Trump son-in-law, Jared Kushner. Given his own work with former prisoners this forum should have included Kaepernick.

Since 2012 Nike is said to have paid over $1bn to be the official uniform provider for the NFL. This deal was recently extended to 2028. So NFL and Kaepernick are Niked together.

  1. Why did Nike not publicly commend Kaepernick during his initial protest and subsequent ostracizing from the NFL?  
  2. Did Nike quietly prevent Kaepernick’s initial stance to protect their own image? We know how sponsors can get nervy about any political controversy attached to their brand.
  3. As a major sponsor of the NFL, why did Nike not flex its financial muscle to “discourage” the NFL from virtually banning Kaepernick? 
  4. Should the public have a right to know how much Kap will be earning from this new Nike deal? Yes.

Kap’s new Nike deal is not based on any recent performance on the field and all to do with his activism. Then it is only fair -and out of his own goodwill – that Kaepernick should share headline details of the contract with the public.

Kaepernick-Nike-Ad-sg-img

Release the terms?

 

 

 

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David Lammy – GQ’s Politician of the Year for Windrush. How Come?

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Labour MP David Lammy was recently named Politician of the Year by GQ Magazine’s Men of the Year Award ceremony.

GQ explained that they gave Lammy the award for his work on the Windrush scandal. There has been lots of praise in media land for Lammy getting this award. Great PR job by GQ for Lammy.

Fine, give Lammy the award but please do not no use the Windrush scandal as the basis. There is not a single one of the 650 MPs who deserves any credit over their reaction to the Windrush scandal; an issue that’s be affected the Afro-Caribbean community for 2 decades.

It’s all well Lammy delivering powerful comments on the Windrush scandal in Parliament. It’s all well Lammy being the so-called political face of the outrage. But Lammy was there on the government benches when many of the victims were deported or imprisoned under policies drawn up by Labour.

We now know so far that at least 164 Windrush victims who were imprisoned/deported under the Windrush scandal. Half of those affected happened under the Labour government.

In 2006, then Labour government under Home Secretary John Reid went after non-EU migrants  in a major way following policy errors over EU migration. Then Prime Minister Tony Blair ignored warnings that any EU membership expansion would lead to a huge flow of people into the UK from newer member States such as Poland.

Labour got their forecast figures so horribly wrong and the growth of migrants from countries such as Poland angered many British folks and gave rise in popularity to far right groups such as the UK Independence Party (UKIP).

Labour reacted to their blunder in a sneaky  fashion and began targeting the Afro Caribbean community and thus some of the Windrush generation were caught up in this new sweeping policy; under the “non-EU migrant” tag.

Hence the birth of the Windrush scandal under Labour and exacerbated by the policies of then Conservative Home Secretary Theresa May’s policies.

Past winners of GQ’s Politician of the Year Award include Sadiq Khan, George Osborne and Jeremy Corbyn. The award may indeed be some curse given the political fallout that has since marred those previous winners.

I just find it disrespectful of GQ to heap praise on any UK politician in relation the Windrush scandal.

The only individual in the UK that deserves any credit for exposing the Windrush scandal to its full extent is The Guardian’s Amelia Gentleman.


Dogged by the uncertain over BREXIT negotiations, 2018 has been a crisis year for British politicians.

Conservative Prime Minister, Theresa May has been rocked by BREXIT-infighting, Windrush scandal, Cabinet resignations, party rebellions, NHS and growing violent crime.

Labour Party Leader, Jeremy Corbyn has been under siege by many of  his own MPs who want rid of him before any general election.  Corbyn has had to withstand weekly coup attempts and a clearly coordinated daily media onslaught. Corbyn has had his own problems over BREXIT, with many of his own pro-EU MPs angered by his approach. Labour’s Anti-Semitism row that has severely engulfed Corbyn leadership.

How May and Corbyn are still leading their respective parties is indeed a miracle. Should May and Corbyn manage to see out 2018 as party leaders, then some media/political body should give them a joint special award just for their political survival skills.

But overall, the Politician of the Year so far for me would be Penny Mordaunt who took over the Cabinet role of Secretary of State for International Development in late 2017 from the disgraced Priti Patel. Mordaunt was also appointed Women’s and Equality Minister.

A seasoned hardline-Brexiteer, pundits were surprised by Mordaunt’s promotion to the Cabinet. But Mordaunt has hardly put a foot wrong and has brought respectability back to a portfolio which was severely tarnished under her predecessor .

Mordaunt has called out against China, Saudi Arabia and spoken up for trade with sub-Saharan Africa. A smart performer who has exceeded expectations and has quickly become an influential member of the Cabinet. One to watch when May bails out.

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David Lewis 1923 – 2018

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Wilton David Lewis

1 April 1923 – 29 June 2018

Affectionately known as “Mass Wilton”, “Bredda Lew”, “Daddy Lew”, “Missa Lewis” and in his younger days…”Bishop Twenty Nine

My dad died in the early hours of 29th June in his room after a short illness – pneumonia. But what a life this Jamaican man packed into those 95 years?

Jamaica: 1923 – 1948

Daddy Lew was born in Woodleigh, near May Pen, Clarendon to Theresa Amanda Brice and Ebenezer Joseph Lewis. Both of whom were “cultivators” working on tobacco fields. Daddy Lew’s father died shortly afterwards in October 1923 and his mother returned to live in her home district of Davis, Bannister, St Catherine. Daddy Lew never knew any of his father’s relations. He grew up in Davis with 2 brothers and 2 sisters, all of whom are now deceased.

Daddy Lew attended Ludford Market Trust School (known today as Old Harbour Primary) and by all accounts was well read. But Daddy Lew’s formal education ended abruptly at age 13. As he had to assist his mother sell fruits and coal 28 miles away in Kingston. In those days they would head to Kingston via a hired horse and cart and slept on the streets of Kingston ahead of market days.

At school Daddy Lew was well known for assisting fellow students with their home work. He would also help those in the Davis community – of all ages – with any letter-writing and read correspondence and newspaper articles to them.

Daddy Lew’s upbringing was very poor and hard. The little things I take for granted today were non-existent during Daddy Lew’s early life. e.g. The first time he slept on a real bed was when he was 27. Hence the life he subsequently provided for himself, his family, relatives, friends and acquaintances is to be commended.

After leaving school, Daddy Lew worked as a mason and carpenter. He dug wells across southern Jamaica. By then his first daughter Sybil was born. Although I never knew of her until 1986 when I was 19.

In 1948, Daddy Lew began a relationship with his future wife – and my mum – Mae White (affectionately known as ‘Miss Telsee’). They were together for 62 years until she passed away in 2010.

United States: 1950 – 1955

During the early 1950s, Daddy Lew went on the farm-work programme to America and worked in the States of Florida, Indiana and Wisconsin. He always said that was the toughest job he ever did.  After finishing his farm-work stints in the United States, he settled back in Jamaica. By then his kids Elaine, Lloyd and Monica were born.

Daddy Lew purchased his first property (5 acres) in the mid 1950s at Bannister, near Old Harbour, and made plans to put his family – including his mum – to reside there. Even in those days it was deemed unusual to see a black man purchase such a large property in that area; as most of the flat land in Old Harbour and surrounding areas were still owned by white and Jewish extended connections of former slave owners.

Daddy Lew found life unsettling back in Jamaica and decided to try his luck in England in 1956 as part of the Windrush Generation.

England: 1956-1974

In London, he worked as a cleaner and painter for a number of companies. Not long after, Miss Telsee joined him in England and they were married in Willesden, North West London. The newly weds settled in Kilburn, North West London where their fourth child David was born in 1959 and me in 1967.

Both Daddy Lew and Miss Telsee held two jobs each. Their double jobs meant they hardly saw each other as they saved and eventually bought their first UK home in Torbay Road, Kilburn in the early 1960s. Some rooms were rented out to generate extra income. Today, Torbay Road houses are valued at an average of £1.2m.

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Torbay Road, Kilburn in 2013

By the late 1960s their kids Lloyd, Monica and Elaine (all educated at St Jago High, Jamaica) also joined them in London and completed their tertiary education. But by 1974, Miss Telsee decided it was time to return to Jamaica for good.

This was an unusual decision given many Jamaicans were still desperate to leave Jamaica and find employment overseas. But my mum chose to go against the norm and return to Jamaica. Thus mum and Daddy Lew “retired” to Jamaica at ages 43 and 51 respectively. A massive risk at the time but in the end mum’s decision paid off as the couple spent another 30 plus years together in sunny Jamaica.

[In a way we had no choice at leaving London in 1974 as my mum sold the house without even telling Daddy Lew. Mum could be impulsive at times when it came to big decisions.]

Daddy Lew went along with the decision unwillingly but he was far from happy. As he had finally secured a permanent job at the London Underground Transport Service and (more importantly for him) he was just called up for jury service at the world famous Old Bailey Courts and he was really looking forward to attending.

My brother David was not happy either as he had had dreams of playing professional football in England. Some of his former team mates and rivals at junior football included the late Cyrille Regis, Laurie Cunningham, Steve Gatting and Ricky Hill. All of whom went on to have long successful football careers.

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Early 1970s – Kilburn, North West London

Jamaica: 1974 – 2018

Back in Jamaica, Daddy Lew painted houses and developed his 5 acre farm. He and Miss Telsee were landlords for properties they owned in Bannister and Pembroke Hall, Kingston. They were an ideal team with mum being the outspoken one and Daddy Lew the quiet doer.

Daddy Lew took a keen interest in the development of his former school, Old Harbour Primary. He was an active member of the local Parents Teachers Association (PTA)  At one stage he was Treasurer.

During the late 1970s and 1980s Daddy Lew would purchase land and hire building contractors on behalf of family and friends still based in the UK. As he and my mum encouraged their UK based friends and family to own property in Jamaica in preparation for retirement.

Daddy Lew loved discussing politics and religion. He loved debating life with members of the Jehovah’s Witness fraternity; which was a sight to behold on Saturday mornings.

Sports Fan

Daddy Lew loved sports. He played cricket, football and rode in local cycle races. During the 1940s he would ride 28 miles from his home to Sabina Park to watch the West Indies play test cricket. In England, he was one of the few black men in the 1960s and early 70s, brave enough to withstand the racist chants and attend live football matches.

In the 1960s and 1970s Daddy Lew was admired in Kilburn’s Afro-Caribbean community for taking young black kids to their first ever football matches to see the likes of Arsenal, Manchester United, Tottenham and my QPR. 50 plus years on those same kids talk glowingly of those days spent with Daddy Lew at football games.

Daddy Lew’s favourite football team in England was Aston Villa.  His favourite football player was England’s Johnny Haynes. He saw the greats play live including  Jimmy Greaves, George Best, Eusebio, Bobby Charlton, Johan Cruyff and Bobby Moore.

Whenever the West Indies cricket team toured England  (1950-70s) Daddy Lew was always there at the matches played in London at Lords and the Oval. He saw all the great English, Australian and West Indian cricket teams of that era. He would also take kids to cricket games too. Some of whom were once pictured in the papers surrounding the great Sir Gary Sobers at Lords.

Family Man and Friend to All

Daddy Lew had a strong Christian faith and was attending both the Anglican churches at Old Harbour and Davis from the 1920s. He was a lay reader and would conduct sermons in his younger days in Davis. Hence the “Bishop 29” pet-name he was given by his friends.

Daddy Lew loved his family in his usual quiet way. He was never one to show emotions or drama. But he was reliable and thoughtful to those in need.

During the 1950s-1970s, Daddy Lew and Miss Telsee assisted dozens of relatives and friends emigrate to England. The couple assisted with travel expenses, getting them into schools/colleges and finding accommodation. The couple made it a priority that the first thing most of these new immigrants did when they landed in the UK was enroll at Kilburn Polytechnic.

Today they are generations of Afro and Chinese Caribbean descendants across the UK, Canada and US who may be unaware of the impact that Daddy Lew played in their own development.

Daddy Lew loved giving back to the people from his community. He assisted many young people with their education expenses. A stranger came to our home recently to pay his respects and told me Daddy Lew paid most of his daughter’s final year tuition fees at University just a decade ago.

While I lived in London over the decades, Daddy Lew would write me every 2 weeks. Whether I had responded, you knew an air letter was coming. He always had stacks of air letters stashed in his room. Even into his early 80s some of Daddy Lew’s family friends would ask him to dictate letters on their behalf.

Daddy Lew was well respected and loved by many who came into contact with him. He was admired for his calmness and quiet disposition. He was never one to speak negatively about anyone. That role was left to my mum.

In England he developed friendships with people of all races in particular those from the Irish and West African community.

It is hard to believe that as landlords in 1960s London, my parents managed to rent rooms to people of all races include whites. Daddy Lew’s only vice in London was popping to the legendary Kilburn Irish pub – Biddy Mulligans – every Friday for a pint of Guinness.

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Paper Man

Daddy Lew loved reading the newspapers and up to 4 years ago he would go out each morning to purchase the Jamaica Gleaner. He was a radio man and loved listening to RJR’s Hotline and also controversial talk-show host Wilmot Perkins. In the weekdays whenever it was 7am, 8am, midday and 5pm  you knew not to disturb him while he was listening the news. Especially the BBC World News.

Daddy Lew believed in hard work and keeping oneself active. He had an unbelievable work ethic. He never did naps. Never. He was always doing something.  He was known for walking the 2 miles back home to Old Harbour after working on his farm in Bannister with his big blue Adidas bag filled with the fruits which he would share with neighbours. These daily walks may explain why doctors were impressed by his strong heartbeat even as late as his last check-up in March 2018.

 

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Animal Lover

2010 – 2018

Daddy Lew was hit hard by the loss of his partner/wife of 62 years, Miss Telsee in 2010, his older sister Ruby in 2011 and especially his son David in 2013. All of which understandably had a major effect on his spirits.

Caring for Daddy Lew over the last 5 years was not always easy for me, but it was such a rewarding experience. It made me appreciate those who care for the elderly on a professional basis.

Until 2 years ago, Daddy Lew had a superb memory. Inspired by the numerous ancestry-type TV shows, I asked him hundreds of questions about his life and roots. He was the main human source that inspired me to research and develop a family tree. Today, I can retrace his and mum’s ancestral roots back to the early 1800s. One of my proudest achievements.

The manner in which Daddy Lew passed away in his bedroom on the morning of the 29th June was the way he lived his life in my eyes. Dignified.

Daddy Lew was the most generous man I knew. He never once told me of his kind gestures to others. His generous actions were told to me by my mum, relatives, friends, my former schoolmates and strangers.

He was the calmest person I ever knew. Never flustered. When once at school I had got in to serious trouble and was suspended, he just told simply me never to do it again. Daddy Lew’s reaction made me respect and love him even more.

The first time I was ever told that Daddy Lew was seriously ill and near death was in 1994 due to cancer. Yet through his resilience, belief system and positive outlook he gave us a further 24 years of his goodwill, hard work and charm.

If Dad was able to see this blog right now he would simply say. “Gary,That’s far too long”. As he was never a fan of lengthy tributes. Sorry dad.

But when you have lived for 95 years and packed so much into a life that started from such poor and humble beginnings…

Your story needs to be written and shared.

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18 July 2018 – Bye Dad

Posted in jamaica, jamaican, sports, united kingdom, WINDRUSH | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Windrush Day – Poor Timing?

The British government announced that 22 June will be declared Windrush Day. In their press release they stated..

[“A national Windrush Day will take place on 22 June every year to celebrate the contribution of the Windrush Generation and their descendants.”

“The event will be overseen by a body of British Caribbean representatives and a Windrush Day grant of up to £500,000 will be available each year to charities and communities seeking to hold commemorative and educational events.”

“events, including the following:

  • National Service of Thanksgiving at Westminster Abbey
  • AGE UK Windrush 70 tea party hosted by Lambeth Council
  • Phoenix Dance Company performance of Windrush: Movement of the People at Lambeth Town Hall
  • Commemorative ‘platinum’ pin badges designed by Brixton-based design group Champion Agency to be distributed at key Windrush 70 events throughout the country”

Some leaders in the black community has welcomed the government’s plan

“Windrush Foundation Director Arthur Torrington said………..The announcement of a national Windrush Day is a moment of great satisfaction. It will cement in the national consciousness the important contribution of those who travelled from the Caribbean to Britain 70 years ago to build a better life and participate in making Britain a stronger nation.”]

I cannot see any point for this Windrush Day whatsoever. The speed by some in the black community to welcome this announcement is just baffling. Given the current Windrush scandal – exacerbated by PM Theresa May’s decisions – is so far from being resolved anytime soon.

Why now?

Accepting such a token gesture by the government is a scandal in itself. The Afro-Caribbean community should be demanding answers and resolutions to the Windrush scandal, ensure the victims are compensated fairly and find out what the government intends to do to repair the long term damage caused to the many victims.

With all these burning issues still unresolved it is rather bemusing for this patronising suggestion to come up at such an inappropriate time. Again, I am baffled how some have been so receptive to the Windrush Day idea. Some Labour Party MPs have rightly questioned this decision and its timing.

 

  • Exactly how many of these Windrush linked British residents were detained?
  • How many were deported?
  • How many (if any) ended up in mental institutions?
  • How many passed away?
  • Did any suffer major illnesses while in detention or following their deportation?
  • How many lost their jobs and homes?
  • Has compensation terms been finalised?

The public is still yet to know the official findings on the death of Jamaican Carlington Spencer while at an Immigration Detention Centre in October 2017.

This Windrush debacle is the biggest scandal to affect the Afro-Caribbean community in my lifetime.

  • Do we really need the launch of a Windrush Day when victims of the scandal are still suffering?
  • How can we accept this Windrush Day concept from the same people who made the lives of many Windrush residents a 21st century nightmare? 

If you have been following the responses by Ministers and officials at the Home Affairs Select Committee hearings you will know how callous, unprofessional, evasive and careless the department over its handling of this scandal.

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Seaga’s Highway to Jamaican Immortality?

In Jamaica recently, the North-South Highway (opened in 2016) was renamed after former Prime Minister/Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) leader Edward Seaga. The decision to rename the highway in Seaga’s honour was made by current Prime Minister and JLP leader Andrew Holness. Initial suggestion came from Energy Minister Dr Andrew Wheatley. In February Holness had renamed the state-run PetroJam corporate office ‘The Edward Seaga Building’.

The official Opposition People’s National Party (PNP) was livid at this new highway name-change. The PNP felt that a decade ago – when he was Opposition Leader – Seaga was so dead against the construction of the highway and thus felt insulted by Holness’ decision to honour his former mentor.

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l-r Edward Seaga, Patricia Holness, Andrew Holness

Some PNP supporters protested at the renaming ceremony. They suggested that the highway be renamed in honour of former Prime Minister/PNP leader Portia Simpson-Miller. They felt Simpson-Miller was more influential in getting the highway plans into action. Why always politicians eh?

I am not a fan of politicians being planted with such endorsements. I was never a fan when the highway from Kingston to May Pen was renamed after former PM and PNP leader P.J. Paterson back in 2015. It all smacks of political self-adulation of the worst kind.

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l-r Omar Davies, Portia Simpson-Miller, P.J. Paterson

Since gaining independence from the UK in 1962, elected Jamaican politicians have had this insatiable urge to name major landmarks after their political buddies and heroes. Their supporters are happy to go along with such partisan endorsements.

Whether it be airports, highways, bank notes, buildings or education institutions political leaders are quick to reward their own in this self indulgent manner. Most of them honoured being men.

[At Petrojam’s renaming ceremony Holness said the gesture to honour Seaga “is our way of saying we love you, we cherish the work you have done and we have to find more ways to symbolise it”.]

These actions gives a sad perception that only politicians are worthy of such grand adulation, when their contribution to Jamaica is no better when compared to others in the field of say education, agriculture, science, sports, music and the arts. We can easily surmise that it is the politicians of the 1960-1990s that created the platform for Jamaica’s decay into today’s violent society.

If you lived through the political violence of the 1970s and 1980s you do have to question if any politician (PNP, JLP or Communist) from that era deserves the highest of public honours.

In 1976, Hasley Crawford won the 100m Olympics sprint gold and the Trinidadian government renamed their National Stadium in his honour. Donald Quarrie won gold and silver (behind Crawford) at the same 1976 Olympics and a minor secondary school in Harbour View, Kingston was renamed in his honour.

Yes, there are few roads named after the occasional sportsperson, educator and musician. Some statues too. Yet it is the political class that seem hell bent to have their names enshrined above any other professional group.

Most local bank notes today are named after politicians. Not one of the many high achieving sport personalities, writers or musicians has come close to having their name on a bank note. But there is hope from the younger generation given what happened to current JLP Cabinet Minister, Mike Henry.

Mike Henry has been Member of Parliament for his constituency of May Pen for 38 years. In 2016, there were plans to rename a school in Henry’s constituency – Denbigh High – in his honour. The suggestion came from stakeholders in the local community. During the consultation process current and past students objected to the proposal under the slogan “Denbigh High Forever, No Change!”

In the end Henry saw this objection and asked for his name to be withdrawn from the proposal. Henry has been indeed one of the very few Jamaican politicians who has spoken out on issues affecting black Jamaicans such as reparations and to legalise medicinal marijuana.

The next new bank note issued should have the name of a person(s) from the music or sporting industry. It’s high time the National Stadium is named after a sporting figure such as Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce or Usain Bolt.

Maybe consulting  the public is to way forward before naming future landmarks. But will the political class have the guts to give up this authority?

We Do Need Other Official Heroes

It is one of the reasons from my school days at Glenmuir High (in Henry’s constituency) that I was never wholeheartedly a fan of the National Heroes ethos in Jamaica, where we have placed only 7 (6 males) people as worthy of Jamaica’s highest award of national recognition.

Why has Jamaica not bestowed National Heroes status on the likes of The Wailers, Usain Bolt, Louise Bennett-Coverley, Mary Seacole, Una Marson, Dr Heloise Lewis, Sir Arthur Wint and some of those Jamaicans who were involved in both World Wars?

If in the 500 plus years of Jamaica’s colonial and independent existence we can only come up with just one female (Nanny of the Maroons) as worthy of Jamaica’s highest recognition, then the island has a serious problem with how its history is being told. Especially as we all know it is our mothers and grandmothers who have been (and still do) the real backbone of Jamaica. Worth noting that none of Jamaica’s current National Heroes was born in the 20th century.

Marcus Garvey was officially named Jamaica’s first National Hero in the 1960s. But can we really downgrade the significant work of his two former wives Amy Ashwood Garvey and in particular Amy Jacques Garvey when compared to Marcus? Both wives are treated in popular culture as footnotes when their own work should be elevated more widely.

As Amy Jacques Garvey once said in 1926..“The Negro woman is the backbone of the race, but it is not natural that white, yellow or brown men will give her full credit for it, when her own men are too narrow-minded to tell it to the world.”

As with the naming landmarks issue, maybe the criteria for achieving National Hero status needs to be reviewed, modernised and allow the public to have their say.

 

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