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Dudley Thompson was a fearless, erudite lawyer - JCC

Published:Monday | January 23, 2012 | 12:00 AM

Below is a tribute to Dudley Thompson from the Jamaica Chamber of Commerce.

THE JAMAICA Chamber of Commerce celebrates the life of one of Jamaica's most accomplished sons, who passed away on January 20, 2012, a day after his 95th birthday.

Notwithstanding the fact that he was born in Panama, our nation's history is all the richer through the contributions that he made in the name of his adopted country. Many will remember him primarily as an outstanding and articulate scholar; a fearless and erudite lawyer and Queen's Counsel; and for his long and at times controversial involvement in Jamaican politics as a senator, member of the House of Representatives, minister of Government and ambassador.

Arguably though, Dudley Thompson's legacy will be his early-developed and sustained commitment to the Pan-Africanist ethos. As one of the intellectual pillars of that movement, he rubbed shoulders and traded thoughts and strategies with a generation of visionaries that included many of the future leaders of independence movements in Africa and the Caribbean.

'Legend Of Africa'

As these countries emerged, he contributed decades to their growth and development, in the process impacting the lives of untold numbers in both regions. It was only fitting, therefore, that the African Press in Ghana designated him a 'Living Legend of Africa' and that the Organisation of African Unity should award him a medal as a 'Legend Of Africa' - among his most treasured of the many accolades he received in a lifetime of service.

Seen from today's vantage point, it is difficult to imagine that a philosophy that had at its core the right to self-determination, a demand for respect for the history and culture of Africa and a recognition of the beauty of its people, could have been adjudged controversial - particularly in a nation and a region the majority of whose peoples are so inextricably linked to the continent of Africa. As his personal motto - 'Live and Let Live, all men are made in the image of God' affirms, Dudley Thompson saw the scope for greatness in all, even those whose history and achievements were belittled for generations. The very fact that the Caribbean region's African roots are today a source of pride, is due to the work of outstanding servants such as Dudley Thompson.

In this year, as Jamaica celebrates the 50th anniversary of independence, it is fitting that we acknowledge and praise the unyielding zeal that informed his conviction that Africa and its diaspora could be a force to be reckoned with in the international community. That future remains a work in progress, but the foundations are becoming more and more secure.

His is an innings worth celebrating for the gift to Jamaica, Africa and the world of his talents and accomplishments, especially his advocacy for freedom, equality and independence. He dedicated his great intellect to the service of his people and to his death remained a proud Jamaican and an unrepentant Pan-Africanist.

The Jamaica Chamber of Commerce joins Jamaica in mourning the loss of a great son who belonged not just to us but also to the wider Caribbean and to Africa. We salute his memory and extend our sincere condolences to his widow Cecile and to his children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren and the members of his family.