Thursday, February 9, 2012


Yesterday, the Caribbean Community of Retired Persons - CCRP - commemorated the Golden Jubilee of Jamaica's Independence by honouring a total of 70 Jamaicans in two categories, for the Legacy they have bestowed on our beloved country. Below is the text of Professor Baugh's brilliant reply on behalf of the CCRP Jamaica 50 Legacy Award Recipients


by Professor Emeritus Edward Baugh

 (Jamaica Pegasus, 8 February 2012)


Time takes its revenge.  For all of my adult life, I've dreamed of inheriting a legacy, some little "dead-leff" that would drop into my lap miraculously, without any warning, and would bring me all the material luxuries I coveted.  I took note of a phrase in Fr Ramkissoon's grace before lunch.  He referred to "the many retired persons and the many persons in need."  That juxtaposition, that identification is apt:  I am in need.


Anyway, now, by a nice irony, and to my amazement, Time and the CCRP have determined that I am a legacy.  The idea that future generations will inherit me, will inherit us awardees, is humbling.  Happily though, at least for now, not "dead-leff" but a living legacy.  The adjective "living" was obviously carefully chosen, to make us feel good by balancing the opposite connotations of "legacy."  Furthermore, if Time has turned the tables on me, I rationalize the turn by telling myself that it has confirmed for me, for all of us awardees, the truth that it is better to give than to receive.  Still, we have received much, and most notably now, this honour.


          For me personally, an additional, daunting honour is to be asked to say thanks on behalf of all the awardees.  When I consider the varieties of eloquence represented in this room, among the awardees, I wonder if mine is not a mixed blessing.  I wonder what would have been the outcome if the awardees had been asked to elect one of their number to say thanks.  Perhaps we would have had an election "too close to call."  Perhaps this is my chance to justify my award!


          Anyway, the other awardees and I say thanks, first, for the gift of life and the grace of the Great Giver, that have allowed us to do whatever we have done that was worthy of this honour, and for the gift of life that allows us to be here today.  If, by virtue of this award, we are projected as worth emulating, then in that respect we will have been of that much more service to society, and that privilege will be another gift we have been given, for which we say thanks.


                         We say thanks to the CCRP for having chosen us.  We congratulate them on the comprehensive variety of categories, of kinds of service which their choices represent.  The Governor-General and Mr Kellier both highlighted the same point, and I wish to underline it.  This range of choice indicates a good understanding of the much abused buzz-word "development," an understanding that development cannot be just a matter of the bottom line at all costs, but that the bottom line is inextricably intertwined with all sorts of other aspects of life which are not immediately seen as quantifiable or having cash value.  We shall wear the honour modestly and soberly, because we know that we are not exclusive, but only representative of those many others who could also easily have been applauded today, were it not for the constraint of numbers, or for the fact that their work has been done outside of the limelight.  We thank them too, nameable or nameless.


                         We must also thank and congratulate Mrs Lowrie-Chin, the ever-vivacious, upbeat and go-getting Jean, for having conceived and brought to efficient reality the CCRP and this Independence Award.  She is herself a model of that prompt transition from idea and talk to action and implementation that our society has long needed to practise more.  No doubt, in founding the CCRP, Jean is securing her own future.  If that is so, then that is a good example of enlightened self-interest.


                         To be associated in this way with the 50th anniversary of Jamaica's independence is a distinction we shall cherish. I had the good fortune to be in the National Stadium on Independence night 1962.  Curiously, the one specific memory I have is of a hitch.  At midnight the lights went out.  In the darkness, the Union Jack was to be lowered and the Jamaican flag raised, so that the Jamaican flag would be flying when the lights came back on.  But the darkness seemed to last an eternity; obviously something had gone wrong.  It was either that the Union Jack wouldn't come down, or the Jamaican flag was diffident about going up.


Anyway, the lights came on again, and there was rejoicing.  Since that night, we've had many hitches and glitches, but we have survived.  We have achieved much, but much more remains to be achieved and to be righted.  May this moment be a moment of resolve.


                         If saying thanks goes on too long, it becomes suspect, and I may deserve the Shakespearean rebuke from Hamlet, adjusted slightly:  "Methinks he doth protest too much."  So, on behalf of all the awardees, thank you.


  1. I was on Grand Cayman last summer during Jamaica Independance day. The whole downtown area shut down streets for a street fair and Jamaican flags were flying everywhere, reggae music, jerk chicken stands, the whole works We thought if this is how expat Jamaicans celebrate their independance we could only imagine how they must celebrate back home.

  2. Professor Eddie struck the right timbre. It was cool (just the right pitch), funny (in that you smiled on reading) and interesting (in that there was much "food for thought" as was UB40s first Reggae single).