We are widely known of course for our singing talent and sports stars, eclipsing legends such as Bob Marley and Rihanna to Usain Bolt and Brian Lara. All have earned their distinctions and should be immortalised perhaps.
What I have learned through the passage of time is that all our heroes don’t run a 9.58.
There are amazing creatives in fields such as fashion, dance, music, film, and the arts, who may not be household names, but made extraordinary contributions, like Lynn Taitt, Boscoe Holder, Peter Minshall, Meiling, and Gerry Bednob (to name a few).
There are also groundbreaking scientists, doctors, tech experts, business magnates, founders of worldwide movements and, more specifically, aerospace engineers like Camille Wardrop Alleyne, who have achieved mind-blowing feats, but again fall prey to our inability to champion their names in our conversations, teachings, or social media posts.
We are not short or wanting for heroes. In the Caribbean, we sadly don’t pay attention to them unless the rest of the world does.
Then there’s mine… Owen Baptiste.
For those of you who aren’t aware, my father – who sadly passed away last night (Tuesday September 8) at the WestShore medical facility – was a fearless award-winning journalist, author, editor in chief, GM, and visionary. He paved the way for many in his field and was a taskmaster who made sure to get the best out of those who worked for him.
As a journalist he was most famous for a series of articles he wrote titled “No sacred cows”, which at the time, (when there were no distractions like social media), were a thought provoking, sometimes scathing series of journalistic pieces that were unafraid to tackle social, economic, political or everyday issues.
In those days he worked with a highly esteemed brat pack of reporters and journalists including Raoul Pantin, Keith Smith, Camini Marajh, Ria Taitt, Lenny Grant, BC Pires, Anthony Milne, Omatie Lyder, Deborah John, Peter Ray Blood, Ucill Cambridge, Andy Johnson, David Renwick, Suzanne Lopez, Deborah Jacob, Judy Raymond, Frank Alleyne, Roy Boyke, Harry Sharma, Leonard Robertson, and the list goes on; all of whom made me excited about journalism and proud of the art form.
My dad wasn’t afraid to take risks and did so often in business, but in doing so, he also indirectly kick-started the careers of many, (including countless practitioners in my field when he thought of creating Trinidad’s first Coachella-like event titled Youth Fest in 1991). But it was his desire to navigate uncharted waters that also saw my parents lose a significant sum of their personal investments, that both he and my mom worked so hard to accumulate over the years.
He wasn’t perfect and I’m not trying to have him canonised.
Like any human being, he was flawed and fought his share of demons, and in the end, it was diabetes that got the best of him.
As a family we are so grateful for the outpouring of love and kind words.
It has been a rough year thus far for all of us, but life goes on.
Other people are also trying to survive in these times. If you are fortunate enough, please try to be your brother’s/sister’s keeper. Help one, help one.
As much as your words of compassion mean the world to me, I kindly ask that in the comments section, you leave the name of who your hero is, and, if possible – I ask that they be from the Caribbean. They can be a parent, a teacher, an icon, sports champion, or a leader in your community. Whomsoever you choose – be they alive or in the great beyond, let’s speak proudly of these folks who have influenced us positively.
Apart from my dad I will name one other person as my champion, who deserves recognition (in my humble opinion): my mother, Rhona Baptiste. She stood by my dad’s side for more than half a century and helped ensure that our family stayed together through all our trials and tribulations. She’s a beautiful soul who also has a career of accomplishments that range from teaching to forging some of the first movements for female empowerment to publishing books. I owe so much to her, and so does my dad –who now gets to shine a light on her from above.
Until we meet again OB.