EDITORIAL: To a noble legend
We are all nation builders when in our individual efforts, and quite often without fanfare, we set our minds to doing what we do – not for personal glamour, but because our country requires our services.
This week we laid to rest Professor Emeritus Arthur Ralph Carnegie, who made this country his home for the past 40 years. Born in Jamaica, Ralph, as he was affectionately known, came to this country when still a young man in his early 30s to take up a position as professor of law at the Cave Hill Campus of the University of the West Indies.
That he merited such a prestigious appointment at such an early age was beyond question. He had journeyed to Britain as a Rhodes Scholar with a first class honours degree in history under his belt, and he added a first class in jurisprudence from that ancient and noble place of learning to his already impressive intellectual achievements.
With a clutch of publications under his wing, and with teaching experience as a college and university lecturer behind him, he was at the tender age of 34 destined for the highest achievement.
The university was fortunate that this distinguished son of the region chose to throw in his lot in the effort to start a regional law faculty for the teaching and training of young minds in Caribbean law.
Like so many others, he might have elected to remain elsewhere flying up the academic ladder. Instead, he chose a life of selfless service to the regional effort.
His contribution was not shouted out from the political platforms nor from within the hallowed chambers of the Assemblies, but this quiet shy intellectual powerhouse illuminated the minds of literally thousands of young Caribbean minds as he explored the law of contract, international law and constitutional law, and set many on their way to become judges, attorneys general, cabinet ministers and teachers like himself.
Particularly in this week when we honour another towering Caribbean figure, the late Right Excellent Errol Barrow, who also returned to these shores after distinguished service in Britain, we hold the life and example of Professor Emeritus Ralph Carnegie as a role model for young Caribbean people.
His life was devoted to public service of inestimable value to the regional effort. As the first professor of law from the region, installed at the very foundation of the UWI faculty, his life’s work has shown, as did that of cricket captain Sir Frank Worrell, that our people can hold their own and achieve international excellence, and that stellar contributions to regionalism can take many forms, and that one does not have to be a politician to serve the region.
To say that he was a legend in his lifetime is to acknowledge that he had passed the scrutiny of that most demanding combination of observers, his students and his peers; and the unanimous decision of his colleagues at the Cave Hill Campus to rename the law lecture theatre in his honour speaks volumes.
Yet there is much merit in the suggestion of his eulogist Justice Winston Anderson of the Caribbean Court of Justice, a former student and colleague, that the region’s highest honour might be awarded posthumously. It would be a final fitting tribute to one who served the region so nobly.