Barbados Remembers Winston Best

June 6, 2014 in Blog by Gus John

Athelston Winston Best. Photo courtesy of the Best family.

Athelston Winston Best. Photo courtesy of the Best family.

Barbados paid tribute to Athelston Winston Best at a memorial service held at the Clifton Hill Moravian Church, St Thomas, on Thursday 5th June 2014 at 3.30pm.

Winston Best passed on at Whipps Cross Hospital at 7.00pm on 18 March 2014 and a funeral service led by Professor Gus John was held at All Saints Church, Forest Gate, London on Thursday 10 April 2014.

The Homily (below) was delivered by former Bishop of Croydon and Britain’s first black Anglican bishop, the Right Reverend Dr Wilfred Wood KA, now retired and living in Barbados.

…………………………………

1

In our first Bible reading, taken from the Old Testament the prophet Micah, more than seven hundred years before Christ, prophesies of this world being at peace with itself, and in perfect accord with God. Why? Because everyone is seeking and heeding God’s teaching. In our second bible reading, taken from the Gospel according to John, Our Lord Jesus makes it clear that there will be more than ample accommodation in the life hereafter for those who in this earthly life, follow His teaching. From the time He left His childhood home in Nazareth, Jesus spent His life on earth, before and after His death and resurrection, as a teacher.

2

Christ was a teacher for Young and Old alike, but He made it clear that children were the best examples of the values of God’s kingdom and its perfect citizens. On one occasion he scolded His disciples for keeping children away from Him. “Suffer the little children to come to me, do not try to stop them, because the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to such as these.” On another occasion He warned them that the fate of anyone who hurt one of these little ones would be worse than being thrown into fire with a mill-stone around his neck. And when He wanted to bring home to his disciples what were the true values of the Kingdom of God, He took a child and set him in the midst of them, and said:   “Unless you become like a little child, you will not enter the Kingdom of Heaven.” Read the rest of this entry →

The SRA responds to Independent Comparative Case Review Report

June 3, 2014 in Blog, Highlights by Gus John

The Solicitors Regulation Authority has published its response to my ICCR report which it published in March 2014 and committed itself to taking action to tackle disproportionality in regulatory action and outcomes for BME solicitors.

Outlining the range of actions to which it has committed itself, the SRA stated:

  • we have announced a programme of regulatory reform to ensure our regulation is more targeted and proportionate;
  • we will publish proposals to reduce regulatory burdens for small firms and to improve our engagement with, and regulation of, them;
  • we will engage with the Law Society, other representative bodies, firms and solicitors to identify ways to improve the co-ordination of efforts to improve diversity within law firms and to identify more effective approaches for the future. We will publish the outcome of this work in October;
  • we will use the data from the ICCR report and our regulatory outcomes report to analyse and understand the causes of disproportionality better so that we can address the issues and reduce disproportionality;
  • we will review the content of our regulatory outcomes report, start publishing it twice a year and undertake more engagement with stakeholders about what it is indicating, with a view to identifying priority areas for action;
  • we will revise and strengthen our internal quality assurance processes so as to provide greater assurance that our discretionary decisions are fair, consistent and free from bias;
  • we will publish an annual report on discrimination issues raised by law firms’ employees and consumers;
  • we will recruit people with expertise to join the SRA Board’s Equality, Diversity & Inclusion Committee (ED&I) to advise and support it in leading the work to tackle the issues identified in the ICCR report;
  • we will continue to take action to improve the diversity profile of our staff and develop effective training and professional development so that our staff have the confidence and skills to make fair and transparent decisions;
  • we will publish an update on our work on the issues identified in the ICCR at the end of October 2014, and a full report on progress in October 2015.

The SRA thanked the core team:

‘… Professor John and Anthony Robinson for their commitment to this project, their diligent examination of the issues and their recommendations. The report has added significantly to our understanding of this important issue. We would also like to thank Lord Herman Ouseley and the members of the EIG for their contribution to this work and for their assistance over a number of years in helping the SRA with this work. All of the organisations represented on the EIG are small and the members of those organisations who have attended the EIG and many other meetings with the SRA have given up their own time, freely, on behalf of their colleagues’.

I am encouraged by the SRA’s response and I hope the regulated profession as a whole and BME practitioners in particular will be, also.

From the outset, I was relieved that the SRA received my report without defensiveness and showed its commitment to giving careful consideration to its findings and recommendations and especially its implications for the way the organisation functions generally. I see this response as further evidence of that commitment and of a willingness to use the report as a vehicle for change. Read the rest of this entry →

Margaret Busby on Sam Greenlee

June 3, 2014 in Blog by Gus John

Margaret Busby's piece on The Guardian's website (http://bit.ly/1jl7d4U)

Margaret Busby’s piece on The Guardian’s website (http://bit.ly/1jl7d4U)

I have been struggling to find words worthy enough to express my gratitude to Margaret Busby for her obituary on Sam Greenlee.

I suppose that like me, most people’s only mental and lived association with Greenlee is through that ground breaking and utterly reckless book, The Spook who sat by the doorand the film that defied Hollywood and told the story in pictures (trailer here).

Margaret and her revolutionary publishing house brought us this film at a time when we were waging our own struggles with the British state, rejecting any attempts on its part to have us conform to, and act in role according to,  its definition of us. We were rejecting, too, the obsession of the British state with essentialising  and constructing archetypes based upon the most extreme and amoral conduct of the alienated and dispossessed among us and using this as representative of black people as a whole. Read the rest of this entry →

Professor Emeritus Norman Girvan (1941- 2014)

May 15, 2014 in Blog by Gus John

"Professor Girvan Memorial" by IIR UWI (Flickr - All rights reserved by IIR UWI)

“Professor Girvan Memorial” by IIR UWI (Flickr – All rights reserved by IIR UWI)

It is with great sadness that I learnt in April of the passing of a great comrade and friend, Professor Norman Girvan.

I had just finished conducting the funeral of another life-long comrade and friend, Winston Best, and was on my way to the crematorium when I learnt that Norman had died. Feelings of desolation were swept aside and banished only at the remembrance of the strong and indomitable spirit they were in the human body and by the knowledge that they were bound for the realm of Ascended Ancestors.

Norman had tragically suffered a fall while on holiday with his family in Dominica some weeks earlier and had succumbed to his very severe injuries.

I am of that generation that was fortunate to have grown up and gained my political literacy in an era that produced some of the finest New World intellectuals and public thinkers the Caribbean and the world could have hoped for. The likes of Arthur Lewis, Norman Girvan, Susan Craig-James, Walter Rodney, Clive Thomas, Judith Wedderburn, Merle Hodge, Owen Jefferson, Brian Meeks, Kari Levitt and Lloyd Best. Read the rest of this entry →

Uncovering the truth of Walter Rodney’s ‘assassination’

May 10, 2014 in Gus in the Media, Print by Gus John

The following article was published by The Voice on May 4th, 2014

Image captured from The Voice's website

Click here to read The Voice

A COMMITTEE to aid an inquiry into the alleged assassination of prominent international activist Walter Rodney has called for “vigilance” to insure the investigation uncovers the truth.

The Justice for Walter Rodney Committee (JWRC) was launched last month to support the inquiry, which began on April 28, into the death of the historian and political activist.

Rodney, author of seminal texts The Groundings With My Brothers (1969) and How Europe Underdeveloped Africa (1972), was killed in what is being called a ‘suspected assassination’ in Georgetown, Guyana on June 13, 1980, when an explosive device concealed in a walkie-talkie radio went off.

The former professor of the University of the West Indies, had challenged the then Forbes Burnham administration in Guyana, forming a new political group, the Working People’s Alliance, whose influence spread to the rest of the Caribbean, the US, Africa and Europe.

The Commission of Inquiry into his death was set up in June 2013 by Guyana’s president Donald Ramotar, following a request by the family.

The three-member commission comprises top Barbadian attorney, Sir Richard Cheltenham QC, Jacqueline Samuels-Brown QC from Jamaica and Trinidadian senior counsel Seenath Jairam. Read the rest of this entry →