THE EDITOR, Sir:
IT IS WITH unfathomable grief that I add my voice to the torrent of condolences which continue to pour in for the loss of our brother, colleague, friend, and griot, John Maxwell. I am honoured to have been asked to pay tribute, as he is missed most profoundly by the Haitian community, which has lost one of its greatest champions. He was indeed ours. Not since Boukman Dutty in 1791, has Haiti owned such an illustrious Jamaican warrior.
John is one of those rare human beings, one of those rare souls, and one of those rare minds, whose death leaves us naked. Bare. Smaller.
I have such vivid memories of him, when we were both guests on the same radio and television talk shows. He was my partner in battle, as we would try to deconstruct the opaque and complex web of lies which the corporate media insists on propagating about our people's struggle, invariably portraying Haiti and Haitians as dysfunctional and barbaric; and the endless cascade of catastrophes, which continues to beset them, entirely of their own making.
I never ceased to marvel at the fierceness of John's defence, the sharpness of his critical analysis, and the fearlessness of his advocacy, until I stumbled across the biblical Psalm which enlightened me to the fact that the Lord puts wisdom in the mouth of the righteous, and suddenly, it all made sense.
Strong support for haiti
John never missed an opportunity to stand in solidarity with, and for, Haiti; to ferociously uphold the Haitian people's right to justice, self-determination, and participatory democracy. Nor did he ever miss an opportunity to clamour for the incalculable debt owed to Haiti for its historical and unparalleled contribution to the establishment of freedom as an inalienable right for all men, regardless of class, creed, or colour; a supremely heroic feat for which Haiti continues to pay an ever-expanding price.
It is particularly painful to be mourning John's passing at the time when Haiti needs him most, hovering as she is on the brink of civil war. At a time when there will be no Christmas for Haitian children, surrounded as they are with nothing but death and destruction, their entire world falling apart, with no end in sight. John would have raised his mighty voice in outrage against the forces which maintain our people in abject poverty, herded like cattle in such inhumane conditions.
When a sacred silk-cotton 'Mapou' tree falls in the forest, all birds have to wonder where they will rest when tired. John was the 'Mapou' tree planted in our garden, giving its shade in abundance and for free.
We love you, John William Maxwell, and we miss you terribly. We honour you, as you once honoured us. You are now enshrined in the pantheon of Haiti's fallen heroes, amongst the ancestors who watch over us, and keep us going through the night.
Walk good, Great Lion of Jamaica. You'll live forever in our hearts.
I am, etc.,
President of the Haiti-Jamaica Society,
Caribbean/Latin American Representative
Haitian Diaspora Federation