David Abdulah loses mother

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

MSJ political leader David Abdulah. FILE PHOTO –

DAVID Abdulah, Movement for Social Justice (MSJ) leader, has lost his 96-year-old mother Mariko Abdulah, who died on Wednesday, he told Newsday on Thursday.

“My mother was 96. She was 96 in June gone. She died yesterday morning, quietly and peacefully, after a short illness.”

Mariko had been married for 69 years to Abdulah’s father, retired Anglican bishop of TT Clive Abdulah, who survives her, along with their three sons – David, Kenneth and Gregory.

“She passed away two days after celebrating her 69th wedding anniversary,” Abdulah said.

He said his mother had been born in Vancouver, Canada, to Japanese parents.

“She was a professional social worker,” he related. She had degrees in this field from the University of Toronto and University of Western Ontario, which he said had been “a significant feat” for her to achieve just after World War II.

Saying his father had become TT’s first local Anglican bishop in 1970 – a position he held until retiring in 1993 – Abdulah said his mother had been active in church life in TT for many years, among many other activities.

“My mother was a founding member of the Rape Crisis Centre, where she also helped as a counsellor. She did social work with the Princess Elizabeth Home for many years, with the parents and children. She was involved in the Mothers’ Union of the Anglican Church, and other activities. She was well known in the church and in social work.”

Newsday asked about her impact on him, noting his role as a strong labour advocate.

“Both my parents instilled in me a strong sense of social justice and fairness, and to treat everybody fairly and decently, regardless of their station in life.”

Abdulah recalled that he had grown up in rural Jamaica while his father was a parish priest who served very humble people, many being peasant farmers.

He also recalled his mother’s memory of her and her relatives having all been rounded up during World War II and detained in a camp in the Rocky Mountains, because at the time, members the Japanese community were viewed with suspicion because the US and Canada were at war with Japan.

Abdulah said his father had been a student in the US at a time of profound racial discrimination against black people, in the 1940s.

“In our home, there was always a lot of debate and discussion with my parents’ friends, which may well have shaped me.”

Abdulah said funeral arrangements for his mother will be announced.