Sun | Jan 20, 2019

'He brought hope to Jamaican farmers'

Published:Wednesday | September 3, 2014 | 12:00 AM

Below is a tribute from the Kingston and St Andrew Corporation to former parliamentarian Roger Clarke.

No great man lives in vain. The history of the world is but the biography of great men.

- Thomas Carlyle

We at the Kingston and St Andrew Corporation (KSAC) are deeply saddened by the passing of the late Minister the Honourable Roger Clifford Clarke. We are sure that those who have interacted with Roger in any way can attest to the laughter and humour that he brought to many a situation. Whether he was being criticised, vilified, interrogated, repeating a story or just chilling, he had his audience in stitches and even tears with his sharp wit and quips.

We can unreservedly state that Roger was one of the greatest politicians that Jamaica has ever seen. He served his country with pride and humility. He was not afraid to be himself and, therefore, became known for his honesty and integrity.

His political career formally began in 1986. Since then, he has served as a councillor, mayor, member of parliament, minister of state and minister. To each office he brought a wealth of knowledge and experience, a genuine concern for the plight of the Jamaican people and a burning desire to contribute to the development of his country.

Many remember him as a farmer and minister of agriculture, bringing hope to farmers, and the farming industry. His success as minister of agriculture was as a result of his expertise, born of experience and practice. He joined the 'eat what you grow' campaign and encouraged farmers to plant non-traditional crops. He did not stop there; he led by example and encouraged other Jamaicans to buy local produce.

The importance of building relationships

He knew, and often said, that his tenure as councillor and mayor had given him a unique understanding of the importance of building relationships: relationships that knew no boundaries, not politics, not religion, no other ism. He remained, throughout his life, a staunch defender of local government, an advocate, an ally and a champion.

There are many of us who will remember Roger as a friend, a sounding board, a mentor and a voice of reason. We will never forget his cautions of leaving an argument alone; saving my replies for later, not rejecting an explanation without first hearing the whole story.

Despite our fond memories of him, his passing has left a void in our hearts. We use this opportunity to thank his wife and children for allowing us the time we had with that Roger, red poll bull, minister, Comrade. To his family, we pray that you find comfort in knowing that his hard work and dedication has not gone unrecognised, and we hope the his memories will keep a smile on your faces and kindness in your heart.

We honour this great Jamaican, remembering the words of George Bernard Shaw that "life is not a 'brief candle'. It is a splendid torch that I want to make burn as brightly as possible before handing on to future generations."

There is no doubt that Roger's torch did burn brightly and now passes to the future generation. Let's take good care of it and never make the flame go out.