Sunday Brew — December 5, 2021
Bob Marley

Rihanna has nothing over Marley, but…

So now, Barbados has officially ditched Queen Elizabeth II, thanks to the energy and commitment of the brightest and most progressive leader in the English-speaking Caribbean – Mia Mottley.

But the outstanding prime minister of flying fish and cou cou land not only told the United Kingdom that its head of State was no longer required. She upgraded global artiste Rihanna to national hero (heroine) status – becoming now the second woman among 11 individuals to reach that level.

So, again, Barbados is ahead of the game – projecting Rihanna to a platform that Jamaica could easily have pushed Robert Nesta “Bob” Marley, several years before. And the beat goes on…The question will now have to be asked: What does Rihanna have over Marley that she has now been handed her country of birth's highest national honour, and Bob has to be still trying to either declare 'War' or shoot the sheriff to gain recognition?

Put both to the test to determine who was most popular, who touched more lives, and who did more for their country, and I would bet the entire $2,112 that I have left in my bank account [pay attention robbers] that Marley would get the nod.

Yes, Rihanna has the backing of the youthful generation, some of whom may never have heard a Marley song. But anyone over 35 who doesn't know about Marley, is not alive.

I have told the story elsewhere about my trip with a handful of media colleagues to a peasant farm in the former East Germany in early 1991, a decade after Marley died. The old women on the farm could not speak English, so they kept referring to us as 'American, American'. One member of our team said, 'no American, Yamaica' (meaning Jamaica), and two of them burst out, 'oh…Bob Marley'. I was absolutely floored. How could they have known about Marley? But so influential was Bob.

For his role in giving Jamaica the cultural recognition that it has, Marley must be an automatic choice for national hero; as would Usain Bolt for sports, and the other regular names – former prime ministers Michael Manley, Eddie Seaga, and P J Patterson.

A country like Barbados with 10 per cent of the Jamaican population size has 11 national heroes, and we are still pussyfooting with seven, where clear vacancies exist.

We sure know how to treat our real heroes.

Foreign minister's conduct in the Senate

A few people brought to my attention their observation that Jamaica's Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Senator Kamina Johnson Smith and sometimes other women from the Government side had apparently taken a position not to be in the Senate whenever Opposition Senator Lambert Brown speaks.

I, initially, dismissed any such act by the Leader of Government Business in the Senate, as I could not accept that the discord that exists between the two, following a recent matter in the Upper House, would have resulted in Johnson Smith taking such a position.

Yet, the calls, e-mails, and WhatsApp messages kept coming, one said even last week, 'look at her when Lambert speaks on the question of the state of emergency'. Reluctantly, I took that look last Thursday – and it happened. Johnson Smith left the sitting for an unknown destination during Brown's presentation, and returned after he had completed his iteration.

Now, maybe it was, at the time, that Johnson Smith got up to use the ladies' room and decided to stay longer than usual. But if it is that she has taken a decision not to sit whenever Brown decides to speak, then we would be at a stage of political pettiness that has never existed before.

I will keep on watching sittings of the Senate to see if Johnson Smith continues to go on her exercise walks whenever Brown rises to the occasion to deliver his verbal offerings. If it can be proven that the lady has taken such a position in the Senate, then there should be no place for her there. That would be totally unacceptable.

What transpired in earlier months between the two was no fault of Brown – Johnson Smith started it, and tried to deceive the Senate and the public by pointing to a matter that involved former Senator AJ Nicholson, and what she termed a threat.

Brown merely followed up by asking her relevant questions and it later emerged that Johnson Smith had not been particularly honest when additional information on the matter surfaced.

So, again, if this is going to go on, then Johnson Smith should be instructed to make a decision: Either she stays and be civil with all members, even if she dislikes them; or simply walk away from the Senate.

A lesson from Ambassador Marsh

A week ago, I was part of a small group of Kingston College old boys who gathered at Triple T Restaurant in the Corporate Area, to catch up.

Included in that group were men I had virtually worshipped over time…someone, for example, like Neville Oxford, one of Jamaica's finest footballers, and the first national to have been offered a professional contract in Brazil. He, now a computer engineer, was a member of the feared KC football teams of 1964 and 1965, viewed by many as the best schoolboy squads of all time. Oxford remains my favourite member of that group.

There was also Robert O'Sullivan, an exciting schoolboy swimmer who led KC to victory in the sport between the late 1960s to 1970, who also represented Jamaica; Dr Frederick Foote, senior dental surgeon and university lecturer; national football star Derrick “Shastri” Denniser, medical practitioner Dr Frank Villiers; stalwart videographer and former Jamaica table tennis champion Dennis Duncan, who also played cricket for KC under Michael Holding's leadership; cultural activist Julian ''Jingles'' Reynolds, musicologist Roy Black, retired banker George Lowe, and engineer Walter Bygrave.

But one man stood out to me in that gathering, and, no, it was not chemical engineer Dr Patrick Dallas, who 'crashed' the function on the ground that he was in search of a good meal for a change, and wormed his way up to even serve as MC. It was Ambassador Probyn Marsh, a retired diplomat, who at age 93, exhibited a brain that many young people would envy him for.

Ambassador Marsh, who entered KC as a student 80 years ago in 1941, served, among other things, as ambassador to France, and permanent representative to the United Nations. The native of Gayle, western St Mary, has kept up with the times and can be depended upon to give his perspective on issues of the day.

He even offered some sound advice to those present, on how they may be able to help their alma mater, and ultimately, their country.

It is elders such as Ambassador Marsh who this country can learn from, big time. Such veterans can advise those who pretend to know about foreign policy, yet fall flat on their faces when it comes to providing practical solutions. It cannot hurt to listen to voices of reason.

Catching up with a long time cricketer

A delightful intervention it was when I heard from a man I had never communicated with, though I held him up as a hero of cricket years ago.

He, a former Jamaica youth team cricketer, was one of those whom I deeply admired when he played cricket for Jamaica in 1975, Monymusk Sugar Estates team, and others.

He is Manola Talbert…one that many of the younger population would not know, but he was, in his time, for my money at any rate, the best legspinner around.

In 1975 when Jamaica youth (Under 19), led by Jeffrey Dujon, who went on to represent Jamaica national, and the West Indies teams, toured the Leeward Islands, and Barbados; Talbert, who did not play against the Leewards in the first match, had the distinction of dismissing Desmond Haynes twice against Barbados. Haynes, would three years later make the West Indies team and go on to become a legend.

In that contest, Talbert had a match haul of eight for 84 – four for 38 in the first, and four for 46 in the second innings. The Jamaica squad was a strong one, with people like Samuel Haye, who was murdered in later years; Mark Neita, John Gordon, Terrence Corke, Ray Wynter, all of whom played for Jamaica. There was also Clifford Bell, Michael Pusey, Barrington Sewell and others.

That match against Barbados saw Jamaica suffering from what Coach J K Holt called shoddy home town umpiring decisions, among them when the Bajan captain Calvin Hope appeared to be out twice off Talbert – stumped by Neita, and caught at short leg, but the umpires refused to raise the finger. Jamaica lost, but Barbados were beaten by the Timur Mohammed-led Guyana in the final.

Denbigh Secondary (now High) past student Talbert, who resides in North America, was a genius with the ball and caused many people to seek the support of the painkiller Phensic at the time, when he had finished working on them.

In Sugar Estates cricket, for long dominated by Clarendon's Monymusk, he was among the top names on a team that also had big shots like Owen Allison, Emelius Francis, ''Pinchie'' Campbell, Ordelmo Peters, ''Fire Boy'' Fraser, Esward “Cobbla” Thomas, Octavious Bhoorasingh, Winston Parchment, Leon Osbourne, and a fast bowler I can only remember as Hall.

His best bowling figures were six for five playing for Sevens Estates (before going to Monymusk) against Innswood Estates.

To this day, I have not seen a young Jamaican who spins the ball as well as Talbert did.

Rihanna Fenty
AmbassadorProbynMarsh
with HG HELPS Editor-at-Large helpsh@jamaicaobserver.com

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