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Until his death on 20 January 2012, Dudley J. Thompson remained a revered leader of the Afro-American diaspora.

Ambassador Dudley J Thompson, OJ, QC, the ‘Burning Spear’, was the advocate extraordinaire, an intellectual, Rhode scholar, war hero, statesman and raconteur of the highest order. Dudley Thompson was simply the best, in whatever field he chose to serve.

His contribution to the building of Jamaica as a nation - to its constitution, its jurisprudence, its diplomacy, its political system, global reputation and its international standing - is unparalleled. He served his country at all levels, including as Minister of Foreign Affairs, Minister of Mining & Energy and Minister of National Security.

In almost every respect, Dudley Thompson was a unique person. He was born in Panama, but grew up and received his early education in Westmoreland and The Mico. He then served in the British army and studied at the famous Oxford University. From Oxford, he proceeded to practice law in Africa - Tanganyika (now Tanzania) and Kenya. He brought together the distinguished international legal team, which successfully defended Jomo Kenyatta in his treason trial. He is still remembered in Tanzania as a Founder of the Tanganyika African National Union (TANU).

Amazingly, all this before he reached 33 years old.

His contribution to the People’ National Party (PNP) was equally impressive. He also served at all levels of the Party, as a Vice President and Chairman to become a distinguished Life Member.

Dudley Thompson was the quintessential Pan Africanist and a lifetime fighter for reparation for Africans everywhere. He was a member of the Pan African movement from his early days at Oxford where he was a close associate of giants such as Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana, George Padmore of Trinidad and Tobago. Until his passing today, January 20, 2012, he remained a revered leader of the Afro-American diaspora.

Jamaica, the Caribbean, Africa and the world will be the poorer for his passing.

Even as we mourn his loss, we celebrate a life of dedication to the cause of building that edifice which enables us to enhance our shared humanity.


* P. J. Patterson is the former prime minister of Jamaica.