Thu | Oct 18, 2018

Peter ‘Dispute’ - Celebration of Espeut’s 25th anniversary as a Gleaner columnist continues with intimate luncheon

Published:Thursday | February 22, 2018 | 12:00 AM
Peter Espeut (left) and wife Velia (right) share a moment with cousin Susan Couch at an intimate luncheon to honour Espeut’s 25 years as a Gleaner columnist. The function was held at the media house’s North Street, Kingston office yesterday.
From left: Errol Miller, Anton Thompson, Peter Espeut, Arch Bishop Donald Reece, Hardley Lewin and Swithin Wilmot at an intimate luncheon to honour Espeut’s 25 years as a Gleaner columnist. The function was held at the media house’s North Street, Kingston office yesterday.
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Fearless, feisty, with a commitment to truth and an intellectual rigour to match were some of the descriptions of Roman Catholic Deacon Peter Espeut yesterday as a small group of close friends broke bread to mark his 25th year of writing for The Gleaner.

"He is one of those who emerged from the early ethos of the independence project, filled with zeal for national service," said Deacon Ronald Thwaites, who gave the main address at the media house's North Street, Kingston office.

Thwaites, a politician, talk show host, and fellow Gleaner columnist, noted the difficulties in writing a newspaper column with the consistency that Espeut has done and applauded him for the more than 1,000 columns he has offered to the Jamaican people.

"I consider his contribution to be among those particularly relevant in reviving what I call the nationalist movement in Jamaica," said Thwaites.

"It involves an enchantment with Jamaica and its people. It speaks of confidence in our own capacities that we can really make this thing work, that the people in Singapore are not brighter than us ... (and) it involves an impatience with falsity and complacency, and those are holy virtues that Peter has incarnated very frequently," added Thwaites.

He argued that Espeut has stubbornly and consistently displayed a mental rigor that goes beyond the present "carnival society".

Retired educator Dr Alfred Sangster was among those who agreed that the noted sociologist, environmentalist, and author has contributed greatly to Jamaica's development with his columns.

"There is a genuineness in what Peter writes, be it a challenge, criticism, or when he has supported institutionsm," said Sangster after Marcia Thwaites summed up the response of many of his readers.

"I would read a column and I would say, 'Lord have mercy! What is wrong with Peter Dispute this time?' but he is always thought-provoking," said Mrs Thwaites, wife of Ronald.