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Brathwaite puts out second book

Tony Best

Brathwaite puts out second book

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Chelston Whitley Dacosta Brathwaite, Barbados’ Ambassador to China, has published his second book.

The book, Ten Defining Moments – An Extraordinary Journey, chronicles the life of a man whose track record began in a poor rural community in Barbados and who, nurtured by self-confidence, ended up smelling of roses planted after intense international scrutiny in far-off lands.

Dr Brathwaite, who rose from humble beginnings to lead the Western Hemisphere’s major agricultural agency, the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA), the first black person to capture the coveted position, says this book tells his story through the defining moments in his life. There were ten at the time the book was written.

They are: A Secondary Education; Winning A Barbados Additional Scholarship; A Degree From Cornell University; A Job With The FAO (Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations); A Trip To Africa; An International Career; Becoming Director General Of IICA; Family, Marriage And Children; Recognition From The Barbados Government – Being Awarded The Companion Of Honour, the second highest honour for Barbadian nationals.

“Since the completion of this book, there have been other defining moments in my life,” says Brathwaite, but “these ten chronicle the journey of a boy who in his youth did his homework by kerosene lamp and went to school barefooted”.

The autobiography, which will hit bookshelves in December, tells of how Brathwaite’s father told his headmaster at St Matthew’s Boys’ School that his young son was earmarked to learn the “carpenter trade”, like his uncle.

“This is a tale of accomplishments and records of which all Barbadians – indeed all Caribbean people – can be proud and can read with profit and pleasure,” said Sir George Alleyne, Chancellor of the University of the West Indies, and the first West Indian elected to be director of the Pan American Health Organisation.

“It chronicles the amazing achievements of a man of superior intellect, courage, wisdom in many areas and the skill and assiduity, which have enabled him to succeed in his chosen profession,” added Sir George, who was quick to hail the book for the way it “captures all the phases of Dr Brathwaite’s life to date”.

Sir George, who wrote the preface, was well placed to write such an introduction. He shares a chapter in Caribbean history with Dr Brathwaite through what Dame Billie Miller, a former senior Cabinet minister in Barbados, called “felicitous circumstances”: the two Barbadians simultaneously leading two of the Western Hemisphere’s more important institutions, IICA and PAHO at the same time.

“It was a special treat for editors to publish news about the accomplishments of both Sir George and Dr Brathwaite because of the uniqueness of their experiences and careers,” said Roxanne Brancker, former executive editor of the NATION newspaper, who co-edited the book.

In this autobiography, Brathwaite turns back the hands of time and that’s when readers begin to get the full measure of the man who broke ethnic, cultural and geographic barriers and in the process left an outstanding legacy, an indelible mark on agriculture across the Western Hemisphere.

“At each step I set myself a goal to go higher,” Brathwaite recalls in the book.

“In six years I had gone almost full circle, from Trinidad and Tobago to New York to Rome and now back to the UWI [University of the West Indies] campus at St Augustine where my formal training started,” he said. “It turned out to be a rewarding experience. But by 1981, it was time to expand my horizons.”

Brancker said Brathwaite dealt with his challenges and success stories with a sense of calm and predictability. It is the kind of story that many of his era have failed to “to tell their children and grandchildren”, she said.

This multi-lingual father and grandfather certainly didn’t make that mistake.

Ruth Jordan of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said the book gives a vivid picture of traditional Barbados and leaves the reader with a nostalgic, heart-warming feeling of island life.

“It is not a perfect life, but it is an inspiration of a life well lived,” she said.

Which brings us to a fundamental question which Brathwaite may have asked himself before writing the book: How did I get here?

Read the book and the answer becomes clear. The author answers the question in a simple, straightforward way.

“It was selflessness, contentment, appreciation, dedication, integrity, character and thanksgiving which led not only to success – but to outstanding success,” said Brancker.

At the end of the book, the reader is bound to ask the question: What are my defining moments?

Read this book and be inspired.