Robert F. Evans | Honouring our own
Jamaica, for well over a year, has had the number one karateka in the region an eighth dan who as head of the Northern Caribbean Region for the International Shotokan Karate Federation (ISKF) sits on the Technical Committee of the world body of the International Shotokan Karate Federation (comprising more than 70 countries) and chairs their Trainee Instructor Research Programme.
This is a singular honour for Jamaica, but he has never been congratulated or acknowledged by this country. Ironically, it is Japanese ISKF officials who are coming to Jamaica in the very near future to honour him.
When attorney Dennis Edmunds (1961 Jamaica Scholar) passed in early 2015 he was described as a legal luminary by Lascelve Graham in a column in The Observer. Mr Graham said that our priorities were skewed, and added, "It is our brightest, most creative minds that will save us, not sportsmen or entertainers, although they, too, have their place. Yet, it would be a much bigger deal with greater fuss and rattling if a 'baller' or athlete kicked the bucket."
We must learn from the great USA, which takes every opportunity 'big up' their own. Every so often on prime-time TV, there are award shows watched by hundreds of millions all over the world. They aim to be the best in the world and have the support of their citizenry in this quest. We, on the other hand, are victims of the philosophy attributed to William Lynch that the best way to control the slaves was to set them against one another.
That sentiment still holds good today, and very unfortunately, the crabs-in-a-barrel analogy so aptly applies in Jamaica. We must overcome this ingrained reflex, adopt a posture of enlightened self-interest, and promote our own knowing full well that in so doing, we will all benefit.
If Jamaica is to be developed, we must adopt a culture of respecting and acclaiming our own. This will promote indigenous business arrangements, and the reduction in reliance on foreign intervention will result in economic benefits.
It is against this background that Jamaicans should know about architect Arthur George Lowe, who passed away in May this year.
'A.G.', a sportsman (Manning Cup goalkeeper), an artist and an academic, was born in the 1930s in Jamaica to Chinese immigrants. At a young and impressionable age, he visited the village of his roots, Lowe Swee Hap, in Shenzhen, China. That community had the motto 'Work, Education, Wealth', and it was perhaps that slogan that inspired A.G. and guided him to become an incredibly gifted and prolific architect.
He tirelessly racked up a number of achievements. His portfolio includes Swept Away Hotel in Negril, Richmond subdivision in St Ann (including the apartment buildings and individual homes), shopping centres, offices and apartment buildings. He worked on his own as a sole practitioner, and it was only in his later years that he was assisted by his son, Ryan Lowe, who recently qualified for a licence to practise architecture in Jamaica,
Father Richard Ho Lung, a contemporary of A.G. at St George's College, was a co-celebrant at A.G.'s funeral service and told how A.G. gave of his time to carry out many projects pro bono for the Catholic Church. His vast collection of work includes Bethlehem Children's Home at Lords Place, a mountain retreat house, a monastery for the Brothers of the Poor at Iron River, and the Sacred Heart Monastery on Hanover Street, as well as other buildings.
His philanthropy includes projects for Sister Grace with the Franciscan Ministries, a retreat in Braes River (St Elizabeth), the Bob Marley Medical Centre in Trench Town, Catholic churches in Montego Bay, Gordon Town and Ocho Rios, the Chinese Benevolent Association headquarters on Hope Road, and an AIDS dormitory in Haiti for the Missionaries of the Poor. Father Ho Lung also mentioned in addition to A.G.'s generous spirit, his non-confrontational, unassuming and humble demeanour, which should be an inspiration to all.
A.G., a highly respected member of the Rotary Club of St Andrew, served as its president for 2001-2002 and received multiple awards for his humanitarian service, including the restoration of Operation Friendship. In a tribute, the current Rotary Club president, Eugene Ffolkes, described A.G. as exemplifying the Rotary motto, 'Service above Self', and added that Rotarians thanked God for his life and work and rejoiced in the fact that he has left the world a much better place than when he first found it.
His final project was the National Housing Trust's 238-apartment development at Ruthven Road. Construction on Phase 1 of the project is slated for commencement by next year, and within a couple of years, Jamaicans will be able to purchase Arthur Lowe-designed units.