Guyanese journalist Mondale A. Smith remembered at night of reflection

Mondale A. Smith relaxes at his restaurant Chef Mondale's Kitchen in Georgetown, Guyana after chatting with this reporter for a feature in Caribbean Life, last January.
Photo by Tangerine Clarke

Seasoned Guyanese media operative, Mondale A. Smith was the epitome of joyfulness. His laughter filled a room, his kindness touched many lives, and while his dream to save the world has ended, there is no doubt, the mark he has left on this earth will forever be etched in the minds of many.

Smith died on May 31, from complications of COVID-19 after being admitted to the infectious disease hospital in Georgetown, where he lived. He was 44.

Four months ago, Caribbean Life was the last publication to feature Smith’s incredible journey from a young man with a dream of becoming a professional chef.

His vision was realized, and in November 2020, Chef Mondale’s Kitchen welcomed patrons. Last January, this reporter was served a meal by Smith, who sat down for a conversation about his stirring life that unfortunately ended shortly after.

During a recent “Night of Reflection,” streamed live on HGPTV Guyana, colleagues, friends, fans, and family members, looked back on the incredible life Smith lived.

Younger sister, Destiny Stout, recalled the kindness he showered her, ensuring she was always protected.

“This is a very difficult loss for us. We will miss Mondale more than words can describe.”

“We will forever cherish his love for God, his kindness, his support and his humor. Mondale was selfless. He had an optimistic view on life when he shared family stories.”

“Mondale was a strong believer of enjoying the good times. He excelled in every task he took on. He was inspiring to us all. We will miss his infectious laughter,” she continued.

‘He touched every person he met, and was loved by many. He was truly an angel on earth. I hope everyone knew the great person he was, and that his memory will continue to live on in our hearts and our minds forever,” said Destiny.

University of Guyana classmate Narissa, said Mondale shared his last dollar with anyone who needed it most. She described him as charismatic; when he walked into a room he commanded it. He had a way of making everyone feel comfortable. When he flashed a smile, it melted your heart. He had the ability, regardless of what he was going through, to put his issues aside and focus on someone else’s, she recall.

“Mondale loved culture and all things Guyanese, he was kind. He loved to sing. He embodied who we are as a people.”

“As we remember him and reflect on his works and what he meant to all of us in different aspects of our lives. Let us try to put our best foot forward. Be selfless, be compassionate, be loving, and remember to always smile the way he did through darkness, and pain, and being wonderful, to not only those around him, but those who came into contact with him. I look forward to great things in his memory,” said Nerissa.

Emcee, Carwyn Abrams reminded, that Smith made a huge contribution to media, starting out at the Guyana Broadcasting Corporation, where he was persistent on being on the radio.

He joined Prime News TV, where Nazima Raghubir, first met him 20 years ago, as a young reporter, and partnered with Smith on her first assignment. She said it was one of the most educational experiences she had at that time, adding, that Mondale, a fun-loving person, taught her a lot about the profession.

“He sang and danced, he loved the camera, and always did ‘Stand Up’ comedy on assignments. He loved meeting people, and loved to highlight issues that were very close to his heart. He will always be a journalist to me, because he never gave up the opportunity to inform,” she shared.

In a moving tribute, radio host of 103.1 Real FM Mirrano Isaacs, called Smith a true friend. “He wanted to be a broadcaster, but the standards at the time were very high, but he never gave up. It took him five years to get the job.”

“He became a journalist at Kaieteur News, and presented musical programs on television including Caribbean Music Box and Sunday Kind of Love. He minded people’s business in the Situation Room and offered advice on religion, politics, money, and sex, controversial topics, but he enjoyed stirring up controversy.”

He was also a producer on Soulfully Yours at SafeTV2, senior journalist at Guyana Times, manager at BTV Ch2, and general news reporter at CNS ch6, News Today.

“He emcee national events like the flag raising Ceremony, and Emancipation programs, and I always attended, because I liked to see what he was wearing,” said Isaacs, who admired Smith’s adventurous spirit noting his stint at Televisie Stichting, Ch8 Suriname.

“He loved being Guyanese and had high hopes for our country, and felt that we could overcome petty differences and come together like we do at cricket, and Mashramani.”

The multi-talented Smith, who was also a technical operator, recorded himself singing while on the job, and entered many competitions with the hope of becoming a successful singer.

Adam Harris and Julia Johnson, with whom he worked at Prime News, gave Smith glowing praise, and spoke of his love of life, his fun-loving spirit, and his enthusiasm for a good story.

“He liked to ‘gaff’ and he enjoyed a good show. He was the star of the the 50th Independence Anniversary festivities. He loved hunting down stories, he loved culture, in his memory we must celebrate the life he loved. Mondale spoke a lot of his family, and close friends, and how much they meant to him,” shared Gordon Mosley.

Smith, who was a stage actor, and known for wearing a “Jaguar” costume in the annual Mashramani parade, as well as the Carifesta parade, is also remembered for his many antics.

He did comedic skits, walked the runway, and according to fashion designer, Roger Gary, Smith used his media skills to showcase models, producers and designers, spending hours backstage to do interviews.

“Mondale you have done it. Especially when it comes to the Mashramani celebrations. Mondale we love you and will never forget you,” said an Allied Arts representative.

Comedian Chow Pow remarked that Smith impacted his life in a different way. “He was not only a broadcaster, he was a magnificent emcee, good comedian, and one of the most fun persons I have ever met.”

“He taught me how to blend information with entertainment, and that is what brought out my talent,” said Chow Pow.

Smith’s nieces paid loving tribute to him by singing “He Was Here” by Beyoncé.

“I want to leave my footprints on the sands of time. Know there was something that, something that I left behind. When I leave this world, I’ll leave no regrets. Leave something to remember, so they won’t forget

 “I was here, I lived, I loved, I was here
I did, I’ve done, everything that I wanted
And it was more than I thought it would be
I will leave my mark so everyone will know I was here. I wanna say I lived each day, until I died
I know that I had something in somebody’s life
The hearts I have touched, will be the proof that I leave.”
Smith, who lived a life of excellence, and impacted the lives of hundreds, was celebrated in a dignified, wonderful manner deserving of his contributions, according to prominent, veteran journalist and playwright Francis Quamina Farrier, who attended the sendoff, at a Georgetown Crematorium, just a stones-throw from where the superstar lived, and was cremated.

Siblings Evelyn Stephens, Heather Beckles, Hazel stout, Younette Backer and Shane Thompson, Onika Smith, extended family members, fans, friends and colleagues, are left to mourn the loss of Mondale A. Smith.

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