It is with a deep sense of sadness that I rise to pay tribute to my friend, brother, and colleague, Ambassador the Honourable Dudley Joseph Thompson, OJ, QC.
He was so intricately woven into the fabric of our public life, that many persons are not aware that Ambassador Thompson was not born in Jamaica.
He was actually born in Panama, of Jamaican parents who went there to work on the Canal. He served his country with patriotic zeal, dedication, honour and distinction.
He served as a Senator and was Leader of Government Business in the House of Representatives in 1978.
His ministerial duties included: Minister of State, with the responsibility for Foreign Affairs from 1972 to 1975; Minister of Mining and Natural Resources from 1977 to 1978; and Minister of National Security in 1978.
He was Member of Parliament for St. Andrew Western between 1978 and 1983 and one of only nine elected PNP Members in the House between 1980 and 1983.
The Honourable Dudley Thompson was Jamaica’s chief representative at the Conference on the Law of the Sea and led the process of negotiation which secured Jamaica as the permanent headquarters for the International Seabed Authority.
We remember too that the Office of the Ombudsman was established through his instrumentality.
Dudley Thompson had a distinguished diplomatic career and served as Jamaica’s Ambassador to West Africa, specifically to Nigeria, Ghana, Sierra Leone, and Namibia.
He was regarded as world citizen; a Pan Africanist to the core and a freedom fighter. Up to the time of his death, Dudley Thompson was President of the World Africa Diaspora Union.
A war veteran, he engaged in active combat as a member of the Royal Air Force.
He was a trained teacher – a Miconian, and a Rhodes Scholar.
His brilliant and exceptional legal career was crowned with many notable cases including the successful defence of Kenya’s, Jomo Kenyatta.
He also served as the President of the Jamaican Bar Association and contributed significantly to the development of the legal profession in Jamaica.
Dudley was a well-respected diplomat and a consummate statesman who had the distinction of being considered a friend of President Kwame Nkrumah and President Julius Nyrere, as well as other African leaders.
As a dedicated politician and public servant, he was awarded the Order of Jamaica for distinguished service in the field of International Affairs.
Ambassador Thompson was a serious liberationist who contributed significantly to the independence struggles in both Belize and the Bahamas.
He was an integral part of the team which crafted and implemented the laws which led to the social transformation of Jamaica during the 1970s.
In spite of all his accomplishments, he was a decent human being, who placed himself firmly on the side of the marginalized and oppressed and dedicated his life to the development of his people.
What strikes me most when I remember my former colleague Parliamentarian was his intellectual brilliance.
He had a sharp mind and an infectious humour. He is even remembered for bringing laughter to the courtroom.
I remember well the time in Parliament, sometime between 1980 and 1983, when we were in Opposition.
During one session he had indicated to me that he was tired and needed to rest a while.
He closed his eyes while I jotted down some notes for him on the presentations being made.
I gave the notes to him just before he stood up, and he presented the case of the Opposition as if he had been awake and alert the whole time.
He was exceptionally quick on his feet and had a very sharp mind.
During the recent election campaign, he kept abreast of the political issues and was never short on giving advice.
He also sent a congratulatory e-mail after the election.
He was determined to return home to lend his wisdom and support to the administration.
Ambassador Thompson passed just one day after he celebrated his 95th birthday.
Ninety-five years is a long time to live, but his life will not be measured so much by the number of his years.
He will be remembered for his passion, his wit and the zeal and dedication he brought to his duties.
He stands out for his commitment to Marcus Garvey’s vision of ‘One Africa; at home and abroad.’
He was proud of his African roots and race, his heritage and the achievements of his people.
This is his most enduring legacy; and in the year of our Jubilee, the most fitting tribute we could pay to Ambassador Thompson, is the deepening of our African connection and the completion of our political independence.
I will miss his passion for, and his interest in Jamaica’s development.
Ambassador Thompson was a remarkable and distinguished human being.
He was a multi-faceted man with many dimensions to his life and he lived a full, meaningful and colourful life.
I join with this Parliament and the wider society in saluting an outstanding Jamaican who contributed to our advancement as a people.
I express sincere condolences to his wife, Cecile, his children and the other members of his family.
We are grateful that they shared him so generously with us.
May they be comforted in the fact that he lived long…. and he lived life to its fullest.
Ambassador the Honourable Dudley Thompson will be accorded an official funeral; the details of which will announced later.
May his soul rest in peace.