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Tribute to Jahjust Steele

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by Michele Samuel Tue May 28, 2013

There is a poem that begins “Because I have loved life, I shall have no sorrow to die.” This is not to belittle the deep sorrow and grief that death brings, but to remind us that death is an end to the sorrows of life, Jahjust loved life but his sorrows are no more.

Life for him began on the 22nd of February, 1981. He was born to very young parents, Sharon Steele, my cousin, and Rudolph Pollard. He was Sharon’s first and Rudy’s only child. Many persons think that Jahjust is a nickname, but that was his given name, chosen by his father. He also bore his father’s first name, being named Jahjust Devon Rudolph. He was born into a large extended family of aunts, uncles and cousins, headed by his grandmother Nola, who resided at Rose Place. Most of the family, including Jahjust and subsequently his mother and siblings, would migrate to the United States of America.

Jahjust spent his primary school years in St Vincent, attending the C.W. Prescod Primary School and the Kingstown Anglican School. He was an intelligent student with much potential. He gained entry into the St Martin’s Secondary School, and also had a brief stint at the Emmanuel High School, Mesopotamia. He completed his secondary education at the Tilden High School, New York, where in 1992, he had joined his grandmother, Nola, who was my aunt.

Tanty Nola or Tan Nola, as she was known to her nieces, children and grandchildren alike, told stories of how often good-looking girls would visit her apartment looking for Jahjust, claiming or perhaps seeking to be his girlfriend. He was popular among the girls, who perhaps were smitten by the dapper young man that he was. Jahjust loved to dress, and he did have a winsome smile.

It was the Canadian, Natalie, who would capture his heart and with whom he would walk down the aisle. She and Jahjust met in Canada where he lived for sometime before returning to St Vincent. Natalie describes her husband as loving and caring. She says that he was very understanding and supportive to her during her difficulties. Natalie is finding it very difficult to come to terms with her bereavement and could not be here today. It was only last year that they were married here in this church. Plans were already in place for him to join her abroad, just in time to celebrate their first anniversary on the 19th of this month.

Though we mourn for Jahjust and grieve at what his life could have been, we can rejoice that he did live. No life is in vain. Every life has a purpose. Bro. Monty Maule, who officiated at the funeral, pointed to several lessons that can be drawn from Jahjust’s life. He cautioned the young people that crime does not pay and reminded them of Jesus’ rebuke to Simon Peter in Matthew 26:52. He chided persons who perceive themselves as coming from better communities not to reject those who may come from areas such as “Bottom Town” and Edinboro, which are looked down upon by many. He implored those persons who come within the sphere of influence of the young to have a positive impact – to uplift and not denigrate. In this regard, he made a special appeal to the police, many of whom originate from these areas. In words of comfort to the family, he reminded us that love never dies. And above all Jah is always just.

Death is constant, yet always difficult. And it is even more difficult when a young life for which there was still hope and promise is tragically cut short. However, death is but one facet of life; nothing that has lived ever truly dies.

The last verse of the poem with which I began goes this way:

I give a share of my soul to the world where my course is run.

I know that another shall finish the task I must leave undone.

I know that no flower, nor flint was in vain on the path I trod.

As one looks on a face through a window, through life I have looked on God.

Because I have loved life, I shall have no sorrow to die.

Jahjust lives on, too, in his four children, Dante and Jahvon residing in New York, Jahkell in St Vincent and London in Canada.

On behalf of his mother and father, his widow, his children, his step-father, the extended family of uncles, aunts, cousins and in-laws, and the Pollard family, we thank those persons who have expressed sympathy, and who have offered prayers, kind words and thoughtful support. May Jahjust rest in peace.

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