Barbadians’ identification with their African heritage came to the fore this morning when local Pan-Africanists and leaders of Non-Governmental Organisations gathered at the historic Queen’s Park Steel Shed, the City, to celebrate the life of one of their own – the late Roosevelt “Ty” King.
The music of the late Jamaican Reggae icon Bob Marley featured prominently at the event, which also included performances from Afro-centric groups including Dancing Africa, the Israel Lovell Foundation and the Pinelands Creative Workshop of which King was a member, paid tribute to him in song, poetry and dance.
The choice of the Queen’s Park Steel Shed was not lost on those present, as it was the venue of a meeting held by Jamaican national hero and Black Nationalist, Marcus Garvey, when he visited the island in October 1937. It was also the venue of the Deane Commission in 1939 to enquire into the 1937 labour rebellion.
Calypso maestro, the Mighty Gabby, prior to his rendition of “Well Done”, commended King for his representation of disadvantaged people and his dismissal of the belief that the quality of a man should be measured by his material possessions.
Inn a light-hearted tribute, former St Michael South East MP and King’s close friend, Hamilton Lashley, told the audience that Barbados has lost a true champion of the people.
“King was relentless and passionate about what he was doing. He was rich in spirit, but poor in material possessions. I doubt King had a cent at the time of his passing. He just liked to help poor and disadvantaged people,” Lashley said.
Meanwhile St Michael East MP, Trevor Prescod, recalled King’s close relationship with the Pan-African and Socialist movements.
“King was the consummate working class person. He was interested in every issue which impacted on working class people. I remember him as an objector in utilities hearings. We should not measure King by the accumulation of worldly goods, but by the quality of his contribution to humanity,” Prescod said.
Also attending today’s celebration were Lodge School old scholars Johny ‘Jumbo’ Clarke and prominent attorney-at-law Pat Cheltenham QC; chartered accountant, Douglas Skeete; Director of the Commission for Pan African Affairs, Dr Deryck Murray and Director of the Pinelands Creative Workshop, Rodney Grant.
Also participating in the celebrations were members of the Barbados Landship and members of the Sons of God Apostolic Spiritual Baptist Church, who conducted the religious aspect of the celebrations.
The mortal remains of King will be interred at the Coral Ridge Memorial Gardens on Monday in a private ceremony.