Sun | Dec 3, 2023

Footprints: Sheldon McDonald - a great Caribbean son

Published:Monday | November 9, 2015 | 12:00 AM

"I am not an American, I am a Caribbean scholar!" Sheldon McDonald would often declare to his students, as he launched into one of his famous lectures. The Jamaica-born dean of the University of Guyana's Law Department was revered for his brilliance, intellect, wisdom, principle, knowledge and demand for excellence, often captivating his audience in awe.

"Law is the interstitial fluid of society; it is the bone marrow of society," was a famous saying of his during lecture sessions.

It was with immense sadness that one of the Caribbean's greatest minds transitioned to another life on Wednesday, November 4, succumbing to serious injuries he suffered in a motor vehicle accident on the Friday before at Success Village, East Coast Demerara in Guyana.

The sudden departure of the 64-year-old Kingston College old boy and People's National Party stalwart sent shock waves across the Caribbean and diaspora, so great was the impact he had while he was alive. The lecturer, scholar, author and journalist always served with distinction.

Endless tributes continue to pour in from friends, family, colleagues and students:

"His happy spirit is alive! Sheldon was a good man who sacrificed his life for the betterment of people and never believed in personal accumulation of wealth, which he too had the capacity to do with his intellectual acumen."

- Norris McDonald (brother)


"Sheldon McDonald's legacy is left in Jamaica in many youth programmes, especially the National Youth Service. The most productive years of the PNPYO was when Sheldon served as its general secretary."

- Therence Gibson (friend)


"A firm believer in Caribbean integration and played a pivotal role in the genesis of the court, which contributed to the development of the CCJ and Caribbean jurisprudence ... unwavering faith in and unstinting contribution to Caribbean integration, jurisprudence and development. The path he blazed with such dedication and assiduity will be forever testimony to his commitment to regional social transformation."

- Sir Denis Byron, president of the Caribbean Court of Justice


"The Caribbean Community (CARICOM) is shocked and deeply saddened by the sudden death of Mr. Sheldon McDonald, Senior Lecturer and Head of the Law Department, University of Guyana.  Mr. McDonald is a true representation of the phrase ‘son of the Caribbean’.  He is Jamaican by birth but has worked arduously and consistently in the interest of all of CARICOM.n He has contributed significantly to the regional integration movement by being involved at all levels of Community-related activities from as early as 1993.  Our Community acknowledges the debt of gratitude that it owes to Sheldon.  CARICOM has lost a citizen who was deeply committed to regional integration."

- Ambassador Irwin LaRocque, CARICOM Secretary-General


"A true intellectual. I would never forget sitting in his law classes at UG and listening to him rip to shreds weak arguments you brought to him ... . He always demanded excellence from his students."

- Randolph Critchlow (colleague)


"You're sadly missed, Uncle Sheldon! Your body of work was sheer genius! A master of arguments, were you. We love and miss you, brilliant man!"

- Wayne Smith (nephew)


“The Jamaican Bar Association mourns the loss of this Caribbean legal giant and extends sincere condolences to his family and colleagues in academia and beyond. Professor McDonald was a prominent advocate for Caribbean integration and once served as a legal consultant to the CARICOM Secretariat. His authorship of two recent papers, ‘Caribbean Court of Justice: Enhancing the Law of International Organizations’ and ‘CARICOM and the New Millennium: Dispute Settlement Put Right’ demonstrate his recognition of the need for, and his contribution to the establishment of the Caribbean Court of Justice. It was a matter which he saw as being beyond debate.”

- The Jamaica Bar Association

Sheldon Ayon McDonald: April 12, 1951-November 4, 2015