A TRINIDADIAN with a deep social conscience. This was just one of the many terms Prof Surujpal Teelucksingh used to describe retired Anglican Bishop the Rt Rev Clive Abdulah, the first black bishop of the Anglican church in Trinidad and Tobago.
A recipient of the Hummingbird Medal (Gold), Abdulah was conferred with The University of the West Indies’ highest honour, an honorary degree of Doctor of Letters (DLitt) yesterday afternoon at the university’s graduation ceremony at the Sport and Physical Education Centre, St Augustine Circular Road.
Before presenting Abdulah with the honour, Teelucksingh gave a citation on his behalf, comparing Abdulah to South African social rights activist retired Anglican archbishop Desmond Tutu.
“What both these men have achieved in their lifetimes has less to do with race and race relations, but more to do with the pursuit of the truth and freedom for all.
“Like Archbishop Tutu, he (Abdulah) is also a placid man, but not one to appease an aggressor. In wearing the ‘full armour of God’, he professes that the Christian faith should not call for any withdrawal from struggle, but one should be fortified by this armour of ‘truth’,” said Teelucksingh.
Abdulah was born in Woodbrook and attended Queen’s Royal College, Port of Spain.
He was a student at the University of Pennsylvania and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree. He is the only bishop to have ever served as a member of the University Council and he became the first West Indian bishop to serve on the board of directors of the Anglican Centre in Rome, Italy, from 1992 to 1995.
Abdulah has also been internationally recognised for his contribution to theology and was conferred a Fellowship of the College of Preceptors of London in 1984, said Teelucksingh.
“During his tenure as Lord Bishop of Trinidad and Tobago, he was a founding member of the Inter-Religious Organisation of Trinidad and Tobago. The Bishop’s Centenary High School was also established under his watch, and the Anglican Consultative Council met for the very first time in the Caribbean region here in T&T,” added Teelucksingh.
Addressing undergraduate and postgraduate graduands of the Faculty of Social Sciences, Abdulah encouraged all to expect more of themselves and not to make excuses.
“You do not stand alone, you belong to a large community which expects you to bring lustre to its already noble record of service... expect more of yourself. By all means, have dreams, dreams that will make the impossible, possible; for far too often we fall into the excuse mode which successfully creates the largest sinkhole for progress, and already there are far too many victims therein.
“Making excuses has become endemic and therefore a disease... do not take that route, it leads only to disaster,” admonished Abdulah.