Anthony Abrahams — a restive mind even unto death
HE did nothing the ordinary way, and perhaps this was the quality that drove former tourism minister, broadcaster and journalist Anthony ‘Tony’ Abrahams to blaze uncommon trails and even have audacity enough to utter a greeting instead of a farewell when he finished his earthly run on August 7, after 71 years.
Those who poured into the historic St Andrew Parish Church in the heart of the bustling Half-Way-Tree business district yesterday for the Abrahams funeral service were left with more than enough evidence to conclude that the man behind the microphones of popular current affairs programme, The Breakfast Club, had been powered by love and a will “to change things”.
Yesterday Prime Minister Bruce Golding said Abrahams was a “trailblazer who initiated so many things that have not only endured, but have become institutions” and “a thinker whose mind blazed much faster than we could keep up with”.
He said it was of note that though Abrahams had enjoyed a “relatively privileged upbringing”, he in no way allowed himself to be insulated from the struggles of the less fortunate and was “at all times in constant pursuit of change and felt an urge, an obligation even, to change things”.
“Even to his death that mind continued to be restive,” he said of the man who “throughout his life made many friends and contended with many foes” but “was always prepared to remain engaged with friend and foe alike”.
Colleague radio host Professor Trevor Munroe, in his tribute, said the man with whom he had shared airtime and many valuable experiences had throughout his life paid a “huge price” for standing up and “talking truth to power” but had managed to stamp the Jamaican landscape with a rare brand of courage.
“Who can forget Abraham’s voice and that chuckle? Who can forget Tony’s questions? Always seeking to uncover the hidden agenda… He was a very human, human being,” he said.
Abrahams was at once the man who was “courageous, quick to anger and never one to suffer fools gladly” and the man who “loved to cook, loved music, loved art and loved beautiful women,” Professor Munroe recalled in sharing anecdotes which had the sombre group chuckling at intervals.
His children Tara Abrahams-Clivio and son Eric, in their remembrance, unveiled what it was like to be parented by a man whose superior intellect held many transfixed.
“Daddy’s recall was faster than the average Google search. He seemed just to know everything… I later worked with him on The Breakfast Club and realised it was not just some gift but that he worked hard as well, and his quest for knowledge never ceased,” she said in recalling how she had leaned on her father’s acumen during her own academic pursuits.
“Growing up with Anthony Abrahams was not normal, as with everything else, my father parented differently; instead of trips to the candy store we went to political rallies… instead of taking us to the movies, he took us to climb the citadel in Haiti,” she said uncannily girlish in her reminiscing.
“In his later days, maybe he seemed more wise than razor sharp, but somehow whenever I had a question he still had the answer,” she said.
Son Eric wryly informed that “daddy would have loved all this attention from friends and foes”.
“Let’s face it, humility was not one of my father’s strong suit, he would often remind me that he was likely to be the smartest man I would ever meet, to my annoyance and chagrin I am yet to prove him wrong,” he said.
“The man read university textbooks for the sheer joy of it, he would raid the University Bookstore on a regular basis consuming books with the same gusto and relish with which he would destroy a Peking duck,” he said in detailing his father’s “love of knowledge”.
And when cancer somewhat tamed that pursuit, the elder Abrahams immersed himself even further in discovering further his children and grandchildren.
Bishop Robert Thompson, who delivered the homily, said Abrahams was a good man who had ignited the lives of Jamaicans through his efforts to address the questions of life and a never-ending quest for a ‘new thing’ evidenced by his involvement in several spheres.
“Civil society has a better understanding of their power in holding their leaders accountable…. thanks to Tony,” he said.
Abrahams’ body will be cremated at a later date.