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Remembering ‘Bobby’ and ‘Fuzzy’

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Perusing some information from a newly-published report on how the world’s super-rich use tax-havens and all sorts of tax-avoidance measures to siphon off the wealth of many countries, I decided to share some of the information via this column, focussing on what such financial losses mean to billions of poor people the world over. In the midst of gathering my thoughts together along these lines, I found myself reflecting on precious human losses that we also have to endure, such as those of Godfrey ‘Bobby’ Fraser and Raymond ‘Fuzzy’ Knights, two more of the World War II generation to whom we will be paying our last respects this week.{{more}} So, I will leave the financial matters for a subsequent column and instead make my ‘two cents’ contribution to both men.

Unfortunately, previous commitments abroad will force me to be absent from paying those respects in person, so, the least I can do is to use this medium to add to the glowing tributes to both of them. I knew both from a very early age, as a consequence of personal relationships. Like me, they were compensated for the lack of material resources, by having wonderful, devoted mothers, theirs now deceased, to whom they were closely bonded. In different ways, each of them has had an influence on my life.

The many tributes to the range of selfless contributions to national development of ‘Bobby’ Fraser are well-deserved. Whether in the fields of education, the media or culture, ‘Bobby’ has left a huge imprint. But on a personal level, he helped to inspire in me the confidence to pursue my own anti-establishment battle. From a very young age, I have never been an admirer of neckties and jackets, but was socialized in this manner, the accepted dress, especially for church and other formal occasions. Secretly, even as I hated the prison of this attire, I used to yearn for the opportunity to be free of it. ‘Bobby’ Fraser, attending church in open-collar shirt and short sleeves, gave me the inspiration that that private battle could be fought and won. A small matter perhaps, but it contributed to my own pursuance of an anti-colonial line.

‘Fuzzy’ was one of the most gifted all-round sportsmen that our country has produced, a natural ball-player. Whether it was a football, a cricket ball or a table tennis ball, he was equally at home as all who have played with or against him, or had the pleasure of watching him, can testify. He also had a very sharp intellect and though more reserved than some of his brothers, was a critical thinker. That wit and thinking also influenced me in my early days of exposure to radical politics.

It was 1970, in the aftermath of the Black Power rebellion in Trinidad. The events in that twin-island state – the demonstrations and the army rebellion -engulfed our consciousness, and, hanging out close to the waterfront in Kingstown, a group of us, ‘Fuzzy’ and his brother Reginald (‘Spooky’), among others, would daily follow the developments from Port of Spain, including the states of emergency and the famous treason trials of the army officers, Raffique Shah, Lasalle, Bazie and others. I found ‘Fuzzy’s’ insights to be very enlightening and more than useful in furthering my own political understanding.

Both ‘Bobby’ and ‘Fuzzy’ are products of a particular era. They have played their part in shaping the St Vincent and the Grenadines of today and represent a loss of precious human resources. My condolences to the families of the deceased. May they rest in peace!

Renwick Rose is a community activistand social commentator.

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