Remarks At Uwi Doctorate Award Ceremony

By Sir Kennedy A. Simmonds,

I Am Humbled , Greatly Honoured And Thankful To

Have Been Selected By My Alma Mater, The Uwi To

Receive This Very Special And Significant Award Of

Honorary Doctorate. I Wish To Thank, The Chancellor,

The Vice-Chancellor And The Entire University

Hierarchy For This Signal Honour. Not Even

The Restrictions Of Covid Can Reduce My Joy And

Appreciation. I Also Take The Opportunity To

Congratulate All Who Are Graduating Or Are

Receiving Honours.

My Life Has Been Blessed, And Many People Have

Helped To Make It So.

At The Foundation Was My Mother Who Migrated To

Aruba To Work As A Domestic Servant So That I

Could Be Fed, Clothed And Receive An Education.

Then There Was My Grandmother And My Aunt Who

Were Responsible For My Upbringing.

I Have Experienced Achievements And Recognition

That I Never Envisaged. Through It All, I Have Never

Ceased To Be Amazed That A Poor Boy Who Played

Football Barefooted In The Dirt Road Of Rosemary

Lane, Who Cried Because He Was Hungry, Who, Every

Monday Before School, Carried Seemingly Endless

Buckets Of Water From The Stand-Pipe Down The

Street, To Fill An Enormous Iron Copper With Water

For The Week’s Washing, And Who Had To Make Sure

Every Morning That He Took Out The “Lodgings” On

Which He Had Slept, On The Floor , To Be Washed

When They Had Got Wet In The Night, That He, Could

Aspire To Such A Life. I Am Thankful That I Was Able

To Document It All In My Autobiography ,

“The Making Of A National Hero”.

It Was In The Crucible Of The Ucwi In Jamaica, That The

Raw Material Which Was My Life, Was Fashioned And

Tempered. It Was There That I Was Thrown Into

The Company Of The Future Movers And Shakers Of

Caribbean Life, Not Only Prospective Politicians, But

Administrators, Scientists, Cultural Icons ,

Medical Luminaries , Sports Icons Etc. People Like Pj

Patterson, Erskine Sandiford , Burchell Whiteman,

Slade Hopkinson. George “Champ” Alleyne, James Ling,

Lennox Ballah, Sir Frank Worrell, Sir Arthur

Lewis. I Could Have Been Intimidated, But Instead I

Decided To Savour, As Much As Was Compatible With

Good Study Habits, The Campus Experience . At Mona

I Played Cricket And Football And Learnt To Play

Tennis. I Became A Founding Member And First

Treasurer Of The Methodist Society, And Joined The

Anglican Choir At Christmas, To Sing Carols At

Hotels On The North Coast Of Jamaica To Raise

Money For Charity.

Those Of Us Who Experienced The Intense Hall

Rivalries Will Remember With Satisfaction Or

Chagrin, Depending On Your Perspective, The Total

Dominance Of The Lions Of Chancellor Hall.

My Memoirs Are Replete With Stories Which Reflect

The Significant Impact Of The Ucwi/Uwi On My Life.

The Featured Speaker At My Graduation

Was Dr. Eric Williams, Then Premier Of Trinidad And

Tobago. I Never In My Wildest Dreams Dared To Think

That 17 Years Later, In 1980, I Would Be Speaking To

Him As Premier Of St. Kitts And Nevis, Seeking And

Obtaining Financial Assistance For Completion Of

Our Hurricane-Damaged Deepwater Port. The

Official He Assigned To Accomplish The

Disbursement Was Lennox Ballah Who Also Lived On

Block “C” Chancellor Hall During My Time. This

Opportunity Today, However, Is Too Brief And Too

Precious To Be Spent Solely In Nostalgic Meanderings.

This Time Of Extreme Challenge Demands That All

Sectors Of Caribbean Society Must Combine Our

Collective Intellects And Energies To Devise

Programs For Immediate Relief Of Our People, And

Develop Strategies For A Post- Covid Resurgence And

Reconstruction. Our University Must Be Right In The

Midst Of The Effort, And Share, With Other

Stakeholders, The Responsibility To Help Our

Caribbean People To Rise To The Awesome And

Complex Challenge Facing Our Region And The

World: The Challenge Of Developing Stable, Secure,

Progressive Communities Within A Hostile

International Economic Environment, Made Worse By

The Present Covid Reality.

I Am Heartened By The Recently Announced Proposal

For The Uwi Open Campus, Our Campus, To Train 20,000

Guyanese Over The Next 5 Years.

To Quote Vice-Chancellor Sir Hilary Beckles, “This

Represents An Opportunity Not Only To Help Build A

Fellow Caricom Nation’s Capital Infrastructure For

Economic, Social, And Cultural Development, But

Also To Bring The University’s Internationally

Recognized Brand Of Excellence Into The Country.”

Consonant With This New Initiative Enunciated By

Our Vice-Chancellor, I Call For The University

To Reach Out Even More To The Ordinary Man And

Woman Who May Never Cross Its Portals. It Must

Become Obviously Involved In The Search For

Answers To The Very Real Problems That Beset The

West Indian Farmer, The Fisherman, The Entrepreneur,

Or The Worker Who Is Just Trying To Stay Alive And

Eke Out A Livelihood. We Need Our Inventions And

Discoveries That Can Revolutionise West

Indian Agriculture, Industry, Business, Or

Healthcare.

Improving The Health Of Our People Will

Undoubtedly Improve Their Productivity.

In This Regard, I Am Happy To Note That The

University Is Already Assisting With The Development

Of The National Health Scheme In St. Kitts And

Nevis.

It Only Remains For Me To Say Thank You Again To My

Alma Mater, The Uwi, For This Signal Honour. It

Does Not Matter What You Call Me.

You Already Called Me Doctor In 1962 When I

Graduated In Medicine From Your Hallowed Portals.

May God Continue To Abundantly Bless Our Uwi.

error: Content is protected !!