Caricom mourns George Lamming

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

ICON PASSES: Barbados-born literary giant George Lamming, who passed away on the weekend, is seen in this photo posted on the Bocas Lit Fest’s Facebook page. PHOTO COURTESY BOCAS LIT FEST –

CARICOM, in a statement on Sunday, mourned the death of noted Barbadian writer George Lamming, 94, who died on Saturday.

“Poet, novelist, essay writer, orator, lecturer, teacher, editor and tireless activist, George Lamming was more than a literary icon. He was an authentic Caribbean voice,” said a release in the hand of Caricom secretary general Dr Carla Barnett.

Barnett recalled the citation for Lamming in 2008, when he was given Caricom’s highest award, the Order of the Caribbean Community (OCC).

That award saluted Lamming for 55 years of extraordinary engagement in “illuminating Caribbean identities, healing the wounds of erasure and fragmentation, envisioning possibilities and transcending inherited limitations.”

The citation applauded his “intellectual energy, constancy of vision, and an unswerving dedication to the ideals of freedom and sovereignty.”

Barnett said on Sunday, “Those words fully encapsulated his extraordinary contribution to the region he loved unreservedly and to which he dedicated his considerable skill. Our community is richer for his interventions and poorer for his loss.

“George Lamming has left a treasure trove of works which remain relevant and reflects the Caribbean condition.

“I extend deepest condolences to the family of Mr Lamming and the Government and people of Barbados on the death of this true Caribbean icon.”

RAMCHAND PAYS RESPECTS

Ken Ramchand, professor emeritus of English at UWI, St Augustine, on Sunday mourned Lamming in a Facebook post headlined, The passing of an immortal.

“George Lamming worked and lived for us to fulfil the dream of a native civilisation in our region.

“This unique assembly would be built upon the chorus of our voices, our submarine unity, our universal history and freedom from the determinisms of partisan histories.”

Ramchand said that design was made potent and real and still challenging in his writings.

“He wrote out of an instinctive and cultivated understanding of a profound politics of belonging and becoming (from the Castle of My Skin to Seasons of Adventure).

“Like his shipmate (Trinidadian novelist) Sam Selvon on the journey to an expectation, a journey that ended so differently from what our colonial education had arranged, like the author of A Brighter Sun and An Island is a World, he saw the ordinary peoples of our islands – their endurance, their rootedness in our place, the unwritten and unspoken philosophy manifest in their energy, creativity and humanity.

“He saw the nameless ones sunken in the land as the source of a unique new world.

“We have failed him but he never failed to stay committed to the dream and the task. I will miss him, but how can you miss a shaping spirit? He is dead but he abides with us. Condolences to all in the world who have known his work and the lucky ones who are his friends and family.”

BOCAS LIT FEST: A CATALYTIC WRITER

The Bocas Lit Fest said on Sunday on its Facebook page that for the past seven decades, Lamming was one of the most catalytic writers and thinkers of Caribbean civilisation, contemplating the intricate social realities of the Caribbean and its diasporas, the place of the Caribbean in the wider world, and the responsibilities of Caribbean people in remaking that world.

His influence, the Bocas Lit Fest said, on subsequent generations is not only in his many books of fiction and essays, but in his work over the decades as editor and mentor.

“We were honoured that he agreed to serve as chief judge for the 2012 OCM Bocas Prize, and his presence that year was one of the undisputed all-time highlights of our festival.

“All of us at the Bocas Lit Fest mourn the passing of George Lamming and celebrate his ideas and words, which remain to inspire and provoke us in uncertain times.”