Saluting our great men and women in the 'quiet professions'


Saluting our great men and women in the 'quiet professions'

Sunday, July 21, 2019

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We are conscious in this space that many personalities who and issues which deserve comment are all too often overlooked, invariably in favour of politicians, sportsmen or women, entertainers and even, tragically, criminals.

However, there are many ordinary Jamaicans who achieve heroic feats every day all over the country and abroad. They deserve to be celebrated and today we salute them collectively and commend them for their audacity, perseverance, courage and creativity.

We wish to highlight another group of Jamaicans who give enormously valuable service to their country and fellow Jamaicans, often doing so over decades, sometimes a lifetime. These people serve in what we are calling the 'quiet 'professions', which include the judiciary, the Church, medicine, diplomacy and teaching.

The erudition and fairness of many of our judges is often overshadowed by attorneys and their 'pyrotechnics' in the courtroom. So too the many merciful ministrations of the clergy to the destitute and desperate. Many are alive today because of the skill and dedication of some doctor and/or nurse.

Today, we also wish to salute some recently departed people who exemplified service in the quiet professions.

Ambassador Elinor Felix, daughter of Sir Roland Phillips, late chief justice of Jamaica and sister of Justice Hilary Phillips of the Court of Appeal, was the doyenne of the Jamaican diplomatic service in the area of protocol, having served as Jamaica's ambassador to Cuba.

The fact that so many functions of State went smoothly is testimony to the skill, charm and calm of this wonderful lady who was laid to rest yesterday. During 50 years of service in various public sector jobs she has left an example to be emulated.

World renowned Jamaican historian Professor Colin Palmer, from Lambs River in Westmoreland, made a seminal contribution over a period of 50 years to the history of the African Diaspora, African American history, and Caribbean history.

He taught at the University of North Carolina, City University of New York Graduate Center, and Princeton University. His book Slaves of the White God: Blacks in Mexico, 1570-1650 proved that enslaved Africans were brought to Mexico, a fact previously denied.

Many brilliant books followed but he will be recalled for his work from 2000 to 2012 at Schomburg Center for Research in black culture in Harlem. Knowing he was ill, he returned to his beloved homeland to spend the rest of his life focusing on the history of Jamaica.

In medicine, a drug to treat glaucoma and derived from ganja was developed right here in Jamaica by Drs Albert Lockhart and Manley West. Dr Henry Lowe has patented several cancer-treatment drugs. The medical faculty at The University of the West Indies has quietly produced a number of medical inventions, including a simulator to be used in cardiac surgery.

Very recently, consultant plastic surgeon at the University Hospital of the West Indies, Dr Rajiv Vengopaul and a team from the Department of Surgery have come up with an affordable solution to tackle surgical smoke in operating theatres.

These are only a few of the many positives in the quiet professions, past and present. Because of them we have much to be thankful for and much to be optimistic about regarding the future of Jamaica.

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