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LETTER OF THE DAY - Sir Howard Cooke - An exceptional politician and humble statesman

Published:Thursday | August 7, 2014 | 12:00 AM

THE EDITOR, Sir:Time and again, our island produces some exceptional and distinguished citizens - those who care for our people, those who work for our people, and those who have the interest of the Jamaican masses at heart. Certainly in a selfish world, these heroes or unsung heroes have been a blessing in their contribution to the growth and development of our country. Sadly, we are grieving the loss of one such giant, former Governor General Sir Howard Cooke.

Sir Howard is perhaps the last of that class of politicians who entered politics to serve and not to profit. It is rare today to find politicians who will talk with the people, listen to the people, and demonstrate respect for the people, irrespective of their social or economic backgrounds. It is also rare in today's Jamaica to have politicians investing in the people rather than investing in themselves.

Sir Howard stood for everything opposite that today's politicians stand for, as he represented the people and not his personal ambitions or interest. He came to the fore at a time when those in the ruling class were less concerned about the gross materialism that exists now and which is being detested by the electorate and citizens of this country.

With his death, we need to think deeply as to why our leaders cannot be like Sir Howard and his generation, why the current breed of political leadership and party apparatchik are immersed in self-serving rather than being servants of Jamaicans.

Perhaps, many forgot, but it was Sir Howard who steered in 1972 the newly elected Government's education ministry which abandoned the 'half-scholarship' (Common Entrance Examination) and gave full privilege and merit to children passing this 11-plus Examination for the then traditional high schools.

It was under Cooke's stewardship that serious mass enrolment of black Jamaicans to schools such as Manchester High, Westwood High, Hampton High, Wolmer's Trust schools, Knox College, St Hilda's High, Munro College, deCarteret College, Campion College, and many others began in earnest.

Sir Howard was truly a man of the people.

May his soul rest in peace.

Winston Donald

Clarksonville, St Ann

winstondonald17@yahoo.com