Missing those tutorials
My boyhood friend in Arima, Lennox Pierre observed last week that I had not written a tribute Dr Trevor Farrell. I replied that others had praised Trevor’s intellectual record, as a young challenger to the then dominant thinkers in development economics, and as the progenitor of what was once considered as “the Farrell School of Economics”.
His point was that, although he and Trevor were friends since St Mary’s College, I made him aware of another side of Trevor. Once described by former president Arthur Robinson as one of our finest minds, this accolade brought Trevor jealousy and jibes from his colleagues, and, although he never said it, I suspected that it may have burdened him eventually.
Trevor was my mas’ playing partner, for years. The Carnival fetes apart, every year our preparation for the streets, began just days before on the arrival of Keith Jeffers, an HR consultant in Toronto.
We, three, determined clearly that we were mas players, or mere “mas limers”, not fancy masqueraders. So there was the 10 a.m. Carnival Saturday morning ritual, when we purchased our costumes, and our curry-lunch celebratory lime, in preparation for the streets.
Our celebrations ended, invariably, with a final lime in the early hours of Ash Wednesday, with Trevor’s presiding analysis of the past two days.
Trevor’s mind was indeed one of our finest. On Carnival days, he was not just a “mas limer”; he was always alert, spotting, scanning, processing Carnival’s finest details, as if in preparation for his Carnival Tuesday night “tutorials”.
So Carnival, for him, was not about only “jump and wine”, but another experience to be processed in the context of Caribbean socio-economic-cultural history.
On reflection, Trevor reminded me of the late Lloyd Best, who was once my jogging partner. Lloyd picked me up promptly at 6 a.m.; we jogged around TheUWI grounds, and then came the ritual, his “tutorials”.
What I cherish about Trevor and Lloyd was their clear distillation of our societal conditions, and their readiness, at every moment, to share their insights, so in my every conversation with either, I came away an improved person—with one new idea, more.
I am still shaken by Trevor’s passing; it made me realise, and I admit willingly, that I am not dealing with death easily. It has been two years since the passing of Earl St Clair Nesbitt, and 18 months since we buried Gideon Harris, two of my close friends, yet I am still glassy eyed.
I found myself repeating that this year has not been a good one for me. Too many persons, who touched my life, have gone. In journalism, we lost Ric Hernandez, Jimmie Andrews, Ric Mentus, Anthony Milne and Kenny Rudd. Last week, Oliver Flax, an early PR-man at Petrotrin, passed on.
After Lennox’s call, I continued to reflect upon the prodigious contributions of Trevor and Lloyd to Caribbean socio-economic-political thought, and their promotion of The UWI’s integrity, and intellectual rigour. I felt assured that they would have supported me loudly in my call for the resignations of The UWI principal Prof Clem Sankat, and executive director of its Graduate School of Business (GSB) Prof Miguel Carrillo over their “mis-steps” in the recent House Speaker, Wade Mark EMBA scandal.
Sankat and Carrillo gave public assurances that Mark met The UWI’s requirements for the award of the EMBA degree this year. But the internal e-mails tell a different story.
It tells of GSB director, Brian Ghent requesting programme director, Balraj Kistow to account for “the circumstances and authority” under which he nominated Mark for graduation. Kistow replied that Ghent should raise his queries with Carrillo, under whose “authority and direction” he acted.
Ghent later asked for the reasons that Mark’s performance records were so “sensitive”, and promised to meet with Carrillo. Months earlier course tutor, Howard Dottin, when requested to “design and mark” course material for Mark, responded: …“I am not willing to design any new course work. The marking is my contribution to this charity.”
Ghent resigned on November 15, recording his deepest concerns over the UWI’s “award of the EMBA degree to Wade Mark”.
Lloyd was a Senator, and also wrote voluminously on government and politics. I felt assured that he would have been scandalised by Mark’s continuing presence as Speaker of the House.
Somewhere out there Trevor and Lloyd, I believe, are detailing the feelings of alienation, surgically examining the news of the non-performance of the Judiciary, and Wade Mark sitting as House Speaker.
Looking at the state of the House, the Judiciary, The UWI, they may be warning us that we may be heading towards an anomic state—and even questioning whether we should still use designations, such as “Honourable”.