Monday, 8 February 2010

A private loss

About 12 years ago, the financial institution for which I worked held its annual Long Service Awards function and invited Professor Ralston “Rex” Nettleford to be the guest speaker.

I was hearing him for the first time, in person, and made some notes as he made his delivery. One of the statements that spoke to me was, “We must have a frame of reference upon which to plot the new things that are upon us.”

Even though he might have been referring to a Jamaican national and collective reflecting, situating and progressing, I took it personal. I bear the past in mind, and appreciate, even more, the value of the journey travelled; the accomplishments made and the wisdom and determination needed to go even farther. There’s more. I am also not required to use the standards of “others” to determine whether I am successful. Just one glance at my humble beginnings and I know that I am successful and have come this far by faith in God, ambition, education, hard work and persistence.

I imagine that in life, one is shaped by the people, places, things and ideas that one encounters, is exposed to and embraces. My parents raised us lovingly and with ‘broughtupsy’. Outside of the family circle, however, we must interact with the world. I am happy to have benefited from a wonderful encounter with Professor Nettleford, realizing that the world – certainly, Jamaica – will not be the same without him. So much better are we, though, because he was in it.

Much has been written about him since his passing. Seems there is a genuine effort to wax eloquent, in trying to do justice to Professor Nettleford as a excellent orator. There have been breaking news, editorials, personal experiences and, quite simply but no less eloquent, the quiet mourning and reflection of his personal assistant who "ran his life" for about 26 years: "Prof just gone like that."

I didn’t need to be a student in one of his classes to have learnt quite a bit from this man.

I shall miss him.


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