Tribute to my boss, mentor and friend, Mr Martin
A wise one penned these words – Who will sing my Name?
“When I see the Eagle no more Will you call my name?
When I am gone, who follows me, Who will call my name?”
I am among those who will call the name of Christian Ivor Martin – he was known by many names by many diverse people, but to me, he always was “Mr. Martin”.
I first met Mr. Martin when I entered the Civil Service as a raw 17-year old posted to the Ministry of Agriculture as Clerk/Typist, under the supervision of the likes of Hugh McConnie, Con DeFreitas, Judith Leigertwood and Sybil McKell. Not too long after in came Mr. Martin, fresh from University. His work came to the typing pool….work of a strange nature – A page or two of handwriting, and six or more thick books. We were required to insert quotations from these books. Remember this was not the computer age of copy and paste. Somehow Mr. Martin’s manuscripts always ended up on my Desk. I reveled in typing his work, I did so quickly since I had no difficulty in reading his peculiar handwriting! Then I would sit back and read the books, until I was reported to Mr. McConnie as always reading Books!!
This launched my public service career, as Mr. Martin adopted me as his Secretary and had me transferred to every Office he took up. I learnt all the intricacies of economics, strategy, negotiation, diplomacy, speech writing and delivery, and was exposed to all aspects of governance that redounded to my benefit up to present time.
I was there to applaud the success of his strategies and projects in various Ministries and Institutions.
I was also there when he was the victim of jealousy and opposition, when he faced the consequences of his own errors, and saw his resilience in sticking to and achieving his goals.
When I became a victim of treachery and my own naivety, he disciplined, defended and pleaded for me, and taught me how to deal with issues and move on. I always treasure a Plaque he brought for me from one of his numerous trips abroad, which says:
“A friend is one to whom one may pour out the contents of one’s heart,
chaff and grain together, knowing that gentle hands will take and sift it,
keep what is worth keeping,
and with a breath of kindness,
blow the rest away.”
That is part of the measure of the man – large in stature, gigantic in intellect, the epitome of humility, simplicity and gentleness.
After moving on to work in the United Nations, and other institutions, he would remain in touch with me. On one of his recent visits home, we spoke about the changing times, and he said “You and I are the only ones remaining of our group dedicated to work, open to new ideas. I never questioned his wisdom, because I knew he was again sending me a message that I must continue meaningful developmental work. Colonel Anderson, Dr. Kirby, Frankie Thomas to name a few, had passed on.
If he asked the Question “Who will sing my Name”, I can confidently say that his works will sing his praise. He has multiplied himself, leaving a gigantic legacy, spreading far into the spaces of our blessed land. He has left me behind to tell a tale. His works will follow him, and his ashes will spray a Blessing on the land of his birth- Hairoun, Yurumein, now known as St. Vincent & The Grenadines.