Ambassador Peter King’s sad untimely passing brings to mind a modification of the Heraclites
They told me Peter, they told me you were dead.
They brought me bitter news to hear and bitter tears to shed
I wept as I remembered, how often you and I
Had tired the sun with talking and sent him down the sky.
And now that thou art lying, my dear old cousin wise
A handful of grey ashes, just laid to rest
Still are thy pleasant voices, thy nightingales, awake;
For Death, he taketh all away, but them he cannot take.
Son, Julian’s touching remembrances tell us of a very busy, but dedicated
father and public servant who unstintingly blended his love of family and
country into a unique and uplifting symphony of caring.
Outgoing Prime Minister P. J. Patterson spoke of his service to his country,
the full measure of which it will take years for Jamaicans to appreciate.
Paul Bogle, hanging at the end of a rope, Marcus Garvey, dying in lonely
obscurity in England, Madame Rose Leon, elderly and feeble murdered for a
few dollars tell us that Bob Marley’s question: How long shall they kill our
prophets, While we stand aside and look, Some say it c just a part of it,
You’ve got to fulfill the book, still remains unanswered.
What chapter of this book are we now fulfilling? Is it the one in which
prejudice, avarice and corruption all combined to strike down one of our
visionaries who still had so much to offer to his country?
Peter was a true renaissance man with a stature outside this land that made
us all proud. He along with Sister Angela’s service to the United Nations —
in the dark days of South Africa’s transition to majority rule from a racist
apartheid regime — made the imprint of Jamaican diplomats on the
international community a very proud one.
Commenting about giving a talk at “First World” Economic Conference in
Switzerland Peter remarked to me, “You know they always have a token black
at these events.” I then asked, “How did you do?” He responded, “It had
nothing to do with me. Their token black was Nelson Mandela.” Then he
laughed his loud hearty laugh.
Once I brought a fairly inexpensive bottle of New York State wine for Peter
and said — you have access to the best wines in the world, so this wine is
probably beneath you. His response was — my doctor says one glass of red
wine a day is good for me, so I take two for added benefit, and even if the
wine is tasteless we can still use it for cooking, so cuz bring it in.
Peter was a flawed individual, as we all are — trapped between the beasts of
the earth and the angels of heaven. Surely a goal in this troubled journey
from cradle to grave is to make this land and world a better place. In this
he succeeded, for Peter understood that EVERYONE DOES BETTER WHEN EVERYONE
His daily life was his religion and that was one of service to his country.
This call to service was molded by the Christian Theology of Canon R.O.C.
King, his father and was firmly entrenched in the long years of selfless
sacrifice demonstrated by his mother Evelyn and his Aunt Cynthia, both
nurses and nurturers. They also opened his eyes to the quiet strength of the
Peter’s murder brings into sharp focus the ever increasing and deep rooted
violence, hatred and contempt for human life that permeates the values of
our shallow class conscious male dominated testosterone driven bandolero
society, a society that merely worships material achievement at any cost.
These excesses of the past 40 plus years since independence have led to ever
increasing poverty, ignorance, hunger, inequities and resentments that will
continue to tear at the very fabric of our societal existence until we
embrace a new paradigm. What are we to do? WHAT ARE WE TO DO?
Peter understood that the first wave of the feminine — with our new Prime
Minister grounded in the common people of the land and attuned to compassion
and fairness for our most vulnerable — is the way we need to travel. He may
not be there with us in flesh, but surely in spirit we believe he is, and
until we meet again:
Goodnight sweet prince
And flights of angels
Sing thee to thy rest
Dr. Delf O. King