T&T bids Manning farewell

T&T bids Manning farewell

By Natasha Ofosu
Photographer David Wears

Trinidad & Tobago | Tuesday 12 July 2016: 6:06 BST

Trinidad and Tobago bade a moving farewell to its former Prime Minister Patrick Manning on 9 July. Those who knew him hailed him a hero, and a man of honour. Local and regional dignitaries, friends and family packed the Anglican Holy Trinity Cathedral, Port of Spain, for Manning’s state funeral service, while hundreds of members of the public gathered outside to view proceedings on a large screen.

St Vincent and the Grenadines Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonzalves, who was one of Manning’s closest political and personal allies, elicited loud cheers during his tribute, saying, “In Patrick the love of honour never grew old. He was not possessed of that unprofitable part of life with which so many are obsessed, that is the gathering of wealth unjustly gained. Patrick died with his honour intact, his character unblemished and his life work meritorious and rightly celebrated.”

Gonzalves developed his friendship with Manning in the late 1960s, when they were students together at the University of the West Indies in Mona, Jamaica. He said that his “comrade” and “real bredrin” was a man of forgiveness: “In his day, Patrick suffered at times not only the slings and arrows of misfortune; not only merely too from those who are full of sound and fury and signifying nothing, but very much some of those who even benefitted immensely and personally from his efforts, turned askance from him. I know that Patrick forgave them all. “Because of the absence of malice in him and because he had long realised that too many men and women - not all - are greedy and fickle by nature, and live in a permanent condition of dissatisfaction and ingratitude, there is nothing you or I can do for any such person. We simply leave that matter to Almighty God.”

Manning’s former rival for leadership of the People’s National Movement, T&T’s current Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley, said that, although Manning was stubborn, he’d led by his example. He recalled how one Sunday afternoon, in 1987, they conducted a political meeting at a house which no one attended. He said, “We were having a drink with the householder and he turned to me and said, ‘Rowley, start.’ And I said, ‘Start what?’ He said, ‘Start the meeting’. So I got up and went to the microphone and spoke for an hour, to no one. Then I thought that was the end of it, because I thought he had played a joke on me. So I came back into the house and I sat down and he walked to the microphone and he spoke for 45 minutes. And then I knew that was a man who would never ask you to do what he would not do himself.”

Brian Manning, the elder of the late Prime Minister’s two sons, told the congregation he had lost his hero. “My mother has lost the love of her life, her rock... and my brother and I have lost our hero and best friend,” he said. He added that his father had not left great material wealth behind, but something “far more valuable”. Brian said, “He left us a legacy that could only come from a life well-lived, a life dedicated to the service of our fellow man, a life of love.” He called for a fund to be set up in his father’s honour, which would support people with low incomes in T&T, and the region, to get affordable housing.

Patrick Manning, 69 when he passed, was Trinidad and Tobago’s fourth Prime Minister and longest serving parliamentarian. He was the elected Member of Parliament for San Fernando East, in south Trinidad, from 1971 to 2015, and served as Prime Minister from 1991 to 1995 and from 2001 to 2010.

Manning died on 2 July, 2016, in hospital, after a diagnosis of acute myeloid leukaemia, a rare form of blood cancer. His body was interred following the state funeral service.

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