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Sheldon McDonald ... 'Lantern of political consciousness' laid to rest

Published:Saturday | November 28, 2015 | 12:00 AMErica Virtue
Mayor of Kingston Angela Brown Burke (left) and long-time Comrade, Delano Franklyn, watch as representatives of Madden’s Funeral Home take in the casket with Sheldon McDonald at the St Augustine Chapel, Kingston College, North Street, yesterday.

Professor Sheldon Ayon 'Uwezo' McDonald - the chief lantern of an era, illuminated with ideological consciousness, political thought, activism and advocacy - was yesterday remembered by Comrades, academics, friends and family as one who believed that, "better must come" for Jamaica.

'Better must come' was the rallying cry from the platform of the People's National Party (PNP) in the campaign towards the 1972 general election which swept Michael Manley to power.

Friends and family say McDonald agreed with Manley that better must come for Jamaica, and lived a life in pursuit of that betterment, cut short by his demise in a road fatality in Guyana on November 4.

McDonald at the time was head of the Department of Law at the University of Guyana.

The late 'Fortis' (Kingston College) graduate, whose blood was said to be purple, brought out a gathering of Comrades - many the last reminders of a period when political passions brought steely resolve, created real visions for the mind's eyes, and when everything was for country.

And it was the former PNP general secretary Dr D.K. Duncan, the first to offer a tribute, who reminded the audience of who McDonald really was.

According Duncan, McDonald grew up in an era that "created ideological consciousness" but his voice registered the disappointment that the era "was no longer with us".

"He was raised in a time of great ferment in Jamaica, in the region and internationally. He was raised at the time when countries in Africa were gaining independence. It was during the time of the Black Power movement and Stokely Carmichael ..." said Duncan, who was a mentor to the young McDonald and later became a lifelong friend.

McDonald was given the green light by none other than Michael Manley to lead the first group of 30 Jamaicans to Cuba under the Brigadista construction programme, a group, according to Duncan, which would later be blamed for "mashing up Jamaica".

His brother Norris, who remembered him in poetry, gave a further glimpses into the fearless being that was McDonald.

"If I wake tomorrow on a mountain top, if my soul flies away, if I soar on the clouds away to mount Zion, of what shall I fear ..."

Anastasia Cunningham, who said McDonald called her his "favourite niece", said she remembered him as a principled, no-nonsense man, who always emphasised the importance of education.

His remains were interred at Dovecot Memorial Park.