Devon Dick: Archbishop: A 'Welby-fitted' ‘Jacket’
Last month, it was revealed that the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, at 60 years of age, discovered who his real father was. In Jamaican terms, this leading Englishman has been a 'jacket' for six decades. His surname should not be Welby but Montague-Browne. His biological father was Sir Anthony Montague-Browne, private secretary to Sir Winston Churchill, who was at the time prime minister of England. Perhaps every time somebody calls him Archbishop Justin Welby he says to himself, it should be Montague-Browne.
The archbishop should be commended for not being bitter towards his mother, and for locating his identity in the Christian faith. He is, first and foremost, a member of the human race with God as his father. In addition, his identity is in Christ because he has repented towards God and exercised faith in Jesus the Christ.
This is an age-old problem of children being given, wittingly or unwittingly, the wrong biological father. There are stories about Jamaican fathers, including one who filed for his three children to migrate only to ascertain, after DNA tests, that none of the three children are his. The man is not the same and has had a nervous breakdown. There is the 2008 movie, First Sunday, in which outstanding Jamaican actor Paul Campbell has a minor role. In the movie, the character Leejohn was asked how come he has such an unusual name. He replied that he was given that name Leejohn because his mother had two boyfriends, one named Lee and the other John, and since she was not sure who was the father, she gave him the name Leejohn.
One must ask whether the mother of Justin never considered that Montague-Browne might be the father. She never wondered based on the close resemblance? And the biological father never thought about that either? It is not enough to claim that it was a one-night stand under the influence of alcohol. Sir, after an error of judgement, one must be man enough to accept responsibility.
The reality of 'jacket' is recognised in the Ashanti tribe of Kumasi, Ghana. Therefore, lineage to the throne is traced through the mother and not the father because one is never 100 per cent sure who the father is.
Too often, parents do not understand the damage caused to children when they are given the wrong biological father. Children feel that their identity is wrapped up in the biological father. Children feel good to be perceived as a chip off the old block, meaning the child closely resembles the father and fathers are elated about that resemblance also. The identity of children is in the distinctive beliefs, practices, personality and behaviour similarities to one's parents. Not knowing one's biological father can lead to an identity crisis in young people and also adults, with persons being faced with questions of 'who am I?' A young person might become rebellious and not want to accept the roles and values handed down by his or her assumed parents.
There needs to be wholesome and responsible sexual relationships because the possibility often exists that a child may be produced. Sexual intercourse cannot be for sexual gratification only; there must be emotional attachment and a commitment to parenthood in a stable family. And whenever a one-night stand occurs under the influence of alcohol, then the partners must be responsible enough and let the chips fall where they may for the protection of the child and the right of the child to know his or her biological father.
As we celebrate Child Month, let there be a commitment to ensuring that the biological father plays a role in the nurturing of the child.
- Rev Devon Dick is pastor of the Boulevard Baptist Church in St Andrew. He is author of 'The Cross and the Machete', and 'Rebellion to Riot'. Send feedback to columns@ gleanerjm.com.