The Honorable Dudley Thompson: A life well-lived, a man to rememberBy FinalCall.com News | Last updated: Jan 24, 2012 - 12:18:29 PM
(FinalCall.com) - The passing of Ambassador Dudley Thompson, an ardent Pan-Africanist, lawyer and brilliant thinker offers us a time to reflect on life, gifts and service. At the time of his death, the longtime race man was 95-years-old and still working to realize a lifelong dream of empowering and uniting the sons and daughters of Africa.
He was born in Panama but his work made him a full-fledged son of Jamaica, where he served as an ambassador and a minister of national security, justice and foreign affairs. Ambassador Dudley was known for his keen wit, his oratory and his passion for his people.
It is easy today to recognize the independent nations of Africa and the Caribbean, but without the efforts of heroes like Ambassador Thompson, such liberty would not have been possible. He was among men who took principled and unpopular stands, bristling at colonialism, clear on the need to end Black suffering, burning with spirit of self-determination and clear on the necessity for unity as sustained attacks besiege a once-great but now scattered people.
Dudley Thompson was a man of accomplishment, serving in Britain’s Royal Air Force during World War II and becoming a Rhodes scholar. In England he interacted with such Pan-African greats as Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana, who led the West African nation to independence; George Padmore of Trinidad and Jomo Kenyatta of Kenya. These men were visionaries and saw the importance of a United Africa and a United Black Diaspora.
His accomplishments and skills were not handed over to the opponents of Black liberation. After attending Oxford University as a Rhodes scholar, he practiced law in Tanganyika (now Tanzania) and Kenya in the early 1950s. He quickly became involved in the nationalist struggles of both countries and was a close friend of Mr. Kenyatta and Julius Nyerere, the first president of Tanzania. It was Mr. Thompson who discovered the whereabouts of Mr. Kenyatta after the latter’s abduction by the British during Kenya’s Mau Mau revolution. Mr. Thompson assembled the international legal team that came to Mr. Kenyatta’s defense. Mr. Kenyatta himself as president of Kenya, placing his hand on Dudley Thompson sitting next to him said, “this man saved my life.”
Ambassador Thompson was known as “as one of Jamaica’s finest lawyers of his generation,” and a “firebrand minister of national security and Member of Parliament under the Michael Manley-led People’s National Party regime of the 1970s,” observed CSMENetwork News, a Caribbean news source.
He was also “later ambassador and high commissioner to several African countries, including Nigeria, Ghana, and Namibia,” the CSMENetwork added.
Ambassador Thompson practiced law in Trinidad, Barbados, St. Kitts, Dominica, The Bahamas, Grenada and elsewhere in the West Indies. In 1962, he became president of the Jamaica Bar Association and served for many years. In 1963, he was appointed a Queen’s Council, which was a sign of his legal acumen. He played an effective role in the independence movement of both Belize and Bahamas.
In 1992, he was empanelled as member of the Group of Eminent Persons, which is charged with implementing the Movement for Reparations for Africa and the Diaspora as a result of slavery and its effect, under the auspices of the Organization for African Unity.
At the time of his transition, Ambassador Thompson was president of the World African Diaspora Union and was still writing and still working. In recent months, The Final Call had the honor of printing his column and we are blessed to have some of his last words, which we will print in the future as a tribute to this great man.
Last October, in recognition of his commitment, the late ambassador was made the first citizen of the continent by the African Union. Presidents from across the Motherland came forward to recognize and honor him.
While devoted to his suffering people, Ambassador Thompson’s personal motto was: “Live and let live. All men are made in the image of God.”
This elder statesman of the struggle was loved, respected and honored by the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan, who appreciated his commitment, his gifts, his determination, his history and his vision.
Jamaican Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller described her countryman as “a man of firm convictions, articulate, sharp on his feet and witty. Dudley Thompson loved his country with a passion and served it with honor and distinction.”
Beyond love of a single country is his example of devotion to the Pan-Africanist cause and ability to stand not a day, a month, a year or a decade, but several decades and stay on course.
True and complete freedom is not an easy gain and a near journey, it is a test of the heart, mind and soul of those who pursue it. Ambassador Thompson departed this life Jan. 20 but his work must and will live long after him—and so long as any of us stay true to this struggle.
Too often those accorded attention, wealth and the spotlight in this world offer little beyond celebrity and riches as those who oppose liberation try to mesmerize the masses. But true heroes are men like this spirited son of the Black Nation who never wavered in his commitment and whose example is worthy of following. Our condolences go out to his family and all who were honored to known or encounter this giant. His was a life well-lived and he is certainly a man worthy of remembrance.