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Saturday, March 31, 2007

Honouring Lloyd Best...

I still have no words of my own. I did not know him myself. I knew his brother Earl - languages teacher and sports aficionado at my Alma mater - but not at all well. But I do feel the sense of loss than others have felt, and know that the loss - personal, national and regional - is great.

The intimations that follow are not mine. I could not have said what needed to be said as well as those that knew him.
...herein lies Best’s greatness. Neither money, fame, nor position has lured him away from his original project: the attempt to understand our society better and his insistence that our condition does not result from inherent human wickedness but is the product of our historical experience. Sometimes Best places too much emphasis on objective conditions and leaves little or no room for the subjective—cultural, religious and/or sheer badmindedness—disposition of the players in our daily drama. Surely, one’s Hindu, Christian, or Islam belief shapes one’s conception of the world. This may be one area where Best’s idealism and glorification of objective circumstances (read historical conditions) trends to skew his interpretation of events.

Although he says “the honour is in the work”, Best remains one of the most auspicious members of the tribe. He is someone to whom we can never give ‘nuff respect.

Lloyd Best’ life functions can be interpreted to be all derivative of his core pre-occupations: dreamer and visionary. From this perspective Lloyd can be seen to have exploited his roles as economist, academic, lecturer, publicist and politician to give effect to this long cast of eye.

Both his core pre-occupations and functional roles deserve critical, dispassionate appraisal...

- Dennis Pantin, Lloyd Best as sportsman

Paying tribute to Lloyd is both easy and extremely difficult at the same time. Easy because there is an instantaneous outpouring based on an intense desire to say thanks in celebration of one who has enriched our space with his tireless endeavouring to disclose the possibility of a new world to us. A world which he insists must be created out of our own sweat out of our own blood and out of own tears, a world ‘crucibled’ in our own history and geography.

And yet, within this ease there is a nagging difficulty. A difficulty created by the sheer volume, originality, range and intensity of Lloyd’s works. A difficulty which dwarfs one’s own outpourings of thanks dwarfed even more so, that Lloyd is present to muse over the form and content of our tributes.

To say thanks in Lloyd’s presence thus demands a shift away from that which though important, can become mere entertainment, mere relating of one’s joys and sorrows as we delineate that which is instructive and exemplary in our cycling with Lloyd. One is thus forced to be either poetic or to strive, to effort at disclosure.

The thing about Lloyd Best is that one always knew that he was important, not important in the cocktail party sense, but important to the country. Lloyd is a man whose beliefs could never be compromised for the sake of a high sounding office or a tax-free car. Even people who do not know him personally are fully aware that he is important and good for the country.

- Martin Daly SC, Tribute to Lloyd Best

Among the intrigues of constantly shifting hemispheres of our space, there is arisen, a citizen of our highest, yet, elusive aspirations that wont to fashion our sphere in the likeness of monument and reflection as expressed by a well distinguished labour only, that can register it in its full, maturing height. He is arriving, just when the lure of the lost is being immanently secured and its gleeful proponents draw their blood-tipped pens to final rites and obituaries!

Those innocent indignations do not touch him though. How can they, when he fails to be, among them, a witness to his own funeral; rather, he participates in his dying no less than he is doing in his living transcendence! He will have no part in the fictitious existence in which his mission-like zeal to offer critical alternatives to out-dated paradigms has been an unrelenting resistance to being swallowed-up in the rhetorical flourish of political ruse. Lloyd Best is a gift deferred, a symbol of our own genius that is impossible to be absent; one that we love to punish, to ignore and eventually bury beyond our memory!

- LeRoy Clarke, A Sober Heroism

Lloyd Best and I entered Queen’s Royal College in the same class, 1A, in the same year, 1946. This immediate post-World War II period displayed the expected twin features of metropolitan authority and instinctive colonial allegiance. Minions in constitutional fetters, we would sing lustily of Britain as the Land of Hope and Glory, the Banner of the Free. The irony quite escaped most of us...

Alleyne, Amoroso, Best, Boxhill, Carr, Corbie, Dumas, Finigan, Hajal, Ince, the 1A names scrolled every morning alphabetically down to Solomon. Twenty-five of us. Competition was unrelenting. We drove one another, drove many out: only thirteen survived to the sixth form. Eight of those, Lloyd among them, won island scholarships.

Surprisingly, Lloyd had not for many years been perceived as among the academically best. Two things about him were already apparent, however (and the contemporary Caribbean will at once recognise that nothing has changed). One was self-confidence. The other, closely related, was unwillingness to accept without question practices taken as established or theories posited by the cognoscenti...

Lloyd [had not been well in his] days. But the weakness [was] physical. The self-confidence and optimism, thank God, [had] not dimmed. Nor [had] the eagerness to challenge received ideas and propose new ones. That above all is what for forty years he [had] consistently urged on this country and this region, and elsewhere, too: the indispensability of dispassionate analysis and thought and plan in the interest of societal progress.

It is only a pity that while we hasten to quote his observations and his maxims - “As Lloyd Best says” is one of our favourite phrases - so few of us, especially those who pass for politicians, actually heed his constant monitions, let alone reflect upon his proffered correctives.

-Reginald Dumas, A Remeniscence

[Lloyd Best] is the single most influential person in my intellectual development, in terms of philosophy, history, perspective, socio-economic reality of we West-Indians. I am sure that Lloyd Best was a prophet among us, who was way way ahead of his time. His philosophies, perspectives, teachings, ideology, are now beginning to achieve currency in wider society, and we haven’t yet begun to explore the implications of what he has taught (or at least what he has been saying) to us over the past 50years. I was blessed to have been taught by him at University, and will miss his weekly columns, and his editorials in The Review. I will miss the opportunities to see and hear his views on our political realities, economic realities, and social realities, as for me, he had the only cogent understanding of where we are at here, and where we need to go, and how we can get there. Condolences to his family, friends and supporters…

- Larry Olton, QRC Old Boy, via email

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