Farewell, Roger Clarke

Thursday, August 28, 2014

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THIS newspaper joins with the wider Jamaican society and the Diaspora in expressing sadness at the death of likeable Minister of Agriculture Mr Roger Clarke, who passed away in the United States yesterday.

Mr Clarke, 74, had been appointed minister of agriculture and fisheries on January 6, 2012 in his latest government assignment before his untimely death.

A close ally of Prime Minister Mrs Portia Simpson Miller, the Manning's High School past student, who was born in the parish of Westmoreland on June 11, 1940, Mr Clarke has left an indelible mark on agriculture and politics.

In days, weeks, months, and indeed years to come, the name Roger Clarke will not only resonate within the farming community, but will be a fixture in political discussions, based upon the impact that he had on the political process.

Few would doubt his ability to whip a crowd into a frenzy during the countless political campaigns in which he had been associated in his over 50 years of membership of the People's National Party.

His biting comments on the platforms, though having serious significance at times, often came across as mere fun, eliciting laughther from even the his most strident opponent, for even they knew that his bark was far worse than his bite. And, even though he would engage in heated verbal exchanges with some, he carried no hard feelings, and certainly bore no grudge.

As Mrs Simpson Miller said, he was a special, one-of-a-kind individual, descriptions to which we wholeheartedly agree.

He was never one who demonstrated sadness, choosing instead to make light of situations that ordinarily would be dealt with in opposite fashion by others.

Described by some as the most affable politician in the Jamaican Parliament, Mr Clarke had a dexterity with both wit and humour and had high-class communication skills that could stretch from one extreme of the social spectrum to the next.

A lover of dominoes and being one who openly expressed his love for white rum, which came from his long and fruitful involvement with the sugar industry, Mr Clarke also had the knack of doing things freely and fearlessly with his political opponents that hardly any other could.

The story goes that Mr Clarke would even turn up at the doorsteps of his rivals in the Jamaica Labour Party, telling them that he was 'in the area' and decided to stop to say hello.

With all of the attributes demonstrated by Mr Clarke, we are heartened that he chose such a noble, non-confrontational approach to spread his political wings. Oh, if only we could get more of that kind of behaviour from many of those now occupying seats in Jamaica's House of Representatives.

We hope that some of the projects that Mr Clarke tried to take to implementation stage, among them the traceability system, whereby all of Jamaica's cattle will be tagged in order to reduce praedial larceny, will go ahead as planned.

While we did not always agree with the methods used by Mr Clarke in his running of the Ministry of Agriculture, we are conscious of the fact that he tried to do things his way -- one that would clearly reflect the will of the Jamaican people and one that would certainly serve to uplift and empower them.

We will certainly miss his wit, his sense of purpose, his style, and overall, his commitment to Jamaica, especially in the area of agriculture.

Rest well, Roger.




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