Some years ago I had the pleasure of meeting the Honourable Michael Manley at a dinner which was hosted for him by some close friends of mine in the cool hills of Swain Spring, Red Hills, St. Andrew.
At the time my political leaning was towards the JLP, nevertheless out of sheer loyalty to my friends I could not reject the offer of a free meal while mingling with many from the pages of HIGH SOCIETY.
I remember vividly getting out of the car, entering the room, where stood the guest of honor with about close to 15 persons standing around him. I watched in awe as every single person for some reason seemed to be captivated by whatever it was that he was saying.
In awe I moved forward and heard him giving a speech about his mother Edna Manley. He spoke of his mother with so much Love and Respect, that I for the first time ever took a different look at the man whom many had painted as a monster.
In that brief unforgettable moment I saw a man who was before his time. I saw a reflection in his eyes that to this day, I still remember. Here was a man so misunderstood by many, but clearly had a heart.
I saw a man whose dreams were not a reflection of whom they painted him to be and in that brief moment I understood his sadness at being made to resemble a villain when in reality he was far from one.
At some point during the night I had the pleasure of being formally introduced to him and when he shook my hand I understood the magnitude of the man in just one hand shake.
He asked me about my future, and I guess he saw something I did not see or know at the time, becuase he told me that one day I would change the world and that all it took was a little piece of me at a time.
I left that dinner feeling confused as here I had come face to face with the man who was said to be the most evil man in Jamaica, yet I saw nothing of that evil, and told myself I was fooled by his charm and charisma.
A few years later we met again at a function where he was being honoured and I was asked to read at that function a poem which I had written which had been published in the Sunday Gleaner. I remember after receiving a standing ovation he got up to give his speech, and he said these words” Our young people are the ones I fight for. Talent such as you have all heard should not be wasted. It is therefore IMPERATIVE that I Michael Manley do what I can to make sure that the children of Jamaica are EDUCATED because at some point THEY WILL CHANGE THE WORLD.”
Today I am older and now understand what his vision was for Jamaica, and sadly I understand that as a man before his time, his dream was misunderstood, which as a result still to this day for many he still is a villain.
But for me I have come to understand that it was in my pathway of life to TOUCH AND SEE GREATNESS UP CLOSE AND PERSONAL, and so today I offer this tribute JOSHUA MANLEY, truly you were a legend in your time, and one day Jamaica and Jamaicans will claim you as the HERO you truly were. RIP
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