It is no overstatement to say this weekend past was one of agony, unabating pain and sorrow.
We learnt of the discovery of the body of a woman strongly believed to be that of Marcelle Smith, wife of Aurelius Smith, in a ravine on Halton Plantation in St George. She had been missing now for a dozen or more days.
As if such tragedy was not enough, we would learn less than 12 hours later of the horrific car accident in which three of five young women would perish on the spot at Two Mile Hill in St Michael, one other dying after being taken to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, the other just clinging to life there.
Having exited this Earth in bloody fashion at the scene were friend Waveney Johnson and cousins Shakira and Shameka Shepherd. Other cousin Nakisha remains in hospital, and we can only hope she will be luckier than friend Carey Brathwaite for whom the QEH would not be a saviour.
Naturally, we grieve with the families of Shakira, Shameka, Waveney and Carey and offer deepest condolences –– and we pray for the best for Nakisha.
We offer too our sincere sympathy and commiserations to Mr Aurelius Smith and family –– if indeed we are not being too fast, as the police are yet to formally confirm the identity of the lady’s body found at Halton.
Sad to add, the sorrow and woe did not stop outside our doors. We too of the media suffered our very own pain this weekend with the passing of a stalwart in former Nation editor Charles Harding. A founding member of the Nation Publishing Co. Limited back in 1973, Mr Harding succumbed to a heart attack at the Queen Elizabeth on Saturday afternoon.
As was expected, the tributes and comments of praise on Mr Harding’s demise would not be sparse –– nor inaccurate. Mr Harding was noted for being among that small cadre of people dedicated to the success of The Nation newspaper and to the raising of the standard of journalism in Barbados.
As the first editor of The Nation, Carl Moore notes in his tribute, “Charles Harding belonged to that breed of journalists for whom halfway was not enough. He went the full distance and demanded the same high standards from those with whom he worked –– whether they were junior or senior to him. In those dark and doubtful early months it was Charles who kept the flame alight. He gave The Nation his all”.
Nation editor emeritus Harold Hoyte alludes to Mr Harding’s faith in The Nation cause, by his resigning “his secure senior position at the Caribbean News Agency to commit to a fledging company offering modest recompense”, a dedication that would see coming into being what Mr Hoyte himself describes as “a titan of Caribbean journalism whose assiduous effort, vigilance and professionalism represent just three aspects of his example”.
As for the noted sportswriter and sportcaster Sam Wilkinson, Mr Harding epitomized what journalism for young people should be: commitment in terms of one’s work, and operating to excellent standards.
Mr Wilkinson recalls that in 1973, when he was sports editor and Mr Harding was features editor, Mr Harding being one of four people who started in a literal way to be full-time workers at what was then a weekly paper.
Added Mr Wilkinson: “Credit has to go to people like Harding who would have been among the founders of an institution that was in a competitive climate that few would have believed would have blossomed in the circumstances.”
Barbados TODAY’S Ridley Greene said Charles Harding was “one of a kind –– an interesting and attractive mix of the analytical, creative, passionate, daring, competitive, selfless and spiritual”; one who exemplified commitment.
Mr Greene, who too worked with Mr Harding as Assistant Editor in the early days, acknowledged his journalistic colleague as “an inspiration to several of us who sought to show him equal dedication to the task”.
A regret of Mr Greene’s though is that “we tend to reflect on and promote the great qualities of persons like Charles when they are gone, failing to do so when they were quite alive and could hear and appreciate our adulations”.
We concur. We need to dutifully acknowledge the stalwarts and exemplars in this noble profession when they are very alive, and not only when they go to the other side –– perhaps when our consciences prick us. We are reminded of the old folk song Give Me The Roses:
Give me the roses while I live,
Trying to cheer me on.
Useless are flowers that you give
After the soul has gone.
Kind words are useless when folks lie
Cold in a narrow bed.
Don’t wait till death to speak kind words.
Now should the words be said.