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Wait for me - Roger - Clarke wanted to help with funeral arrangements for campaign manager

Published:Friday | August 29, 2014 | 12:00 AM
Roger Clarke (centre) and Kenneth Singh (right) pass the time with party worker Courtney Spence.

 Adrian Frater, News Editor

Western Bureau:

Kenneth Singh was more than a campaign manager to Roger Clarke in Central Westmoreland. He was a friend. So 14 days ago when Singh died and the message was relayed to Clarke in Florida where he was recovering from back surgery, Clarke sent back a message to the family in Petersfield. He told them not to bury his friend until he returned to Jamaica. And he was coming back on Thursday (yesterday).

"My father (Kenneth Singh) was his campaign manager and their friendship went back many years. We would visit his home and he would visit our home," said Natasha Singh. "We saw him like a big uncle, and that was from long before he became our MP."

She added, "When we called him (Clarke) and told him that daddy had died, he said we should delay all the funeral arrangements until he gets back to Jamaica ... He said he was coming back today (Thursday)," said Singh. "We were here digging daddy's grave when we got the news. Everybody is shocked. Right now I am trembling."

In summing up her best memory of Clarke, Singh remembers him as a happy person, who was a great lover of mannish water (goat soup).

"He used to love when my father cooked mannish water," Singh said. "Sometimes he would send and call my father to come to his house to cook for him ... . He really enjoyed my father's cooking."

The death of Clarke, the agriculture minister, who died in the United States yesterday, has left members of his Central Westmoreland constituency in shock as for the most part, they were expecting him to recover fully from the surgery he went to the US to undergo.

"I am deeply shocked and saddened by the news," said Savanna-la-Mar-based cosmetologist Maureen Hibbert-Forrester, who served Clarke as a campaign worker in his two successful bids for the seat on the ruling People's National Party (PNP) ticket. "He was a very good MP. He was somebody you could talk to. The entire Westmoreland is shocked. He was a very good man to this parish."

For Savanna-la-Mar mayor, Councillor Bertel Moore, who had a longstanding bond of friendship with Clarke, the news has left him badly shaken.

"I visited Roger at his home before he left for Miami and we had a long discussion about some of the plans he had for the parish, so I was really looking forward to us working together on these plans," said Moore. "In addition to being close friends, he was a person who I could always look to for advice. He was a special kind of human being and I can tell you that I am really going to miss him."

In addition to his political work in the constituency, especially agitating for betterment of the lives of cane farmers, Clarke also took a healthy interest in sports and sponsored a number of competitions to include cricket and netball.

"We have really lost a great man, who was deeply committed to Westmoreland and its people," said Singh. "He will be very hard to replace."