The year 2013 will be remembered as the one three continents lost an iconic leader with the passing of former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and South African giant and former President Nelson Mandela.
The three outstanding leaders slipped away after making significant contribution to world politics and multitudes from a global population. They were born in different regions of the world but their imprint resonated past the borders that separated them.
The youngest to depart was 58-year-old Chavez. He died while in office last March 5. Much maligned here for his defiance against U.S. capitalism, the Spanish champion remained loyal to Cuba and its former President Fidel Castro until his death. While suffering from cancer he sought treatment there on the Caribbean island.
Europe lost the “Iron Lady” April 8. She was 87. Recalled for her strong resistance against social welfare programs, she also reduced trade union power, and privatized a number of industries. Thatcher suffered a stroke which caused her death.
The last world leader to depart left the world in the last month of 2013. Mandela was 95 years-old when he passed on Dec. 5. He is revered as the African revolutionary who was imprisoned for defying South Africa’s racist apartheid regime. After 27 years of confinement, he was released and became a symbol of hope and change to masses of people living under the same regime he fought. Still dedicated to change after his release, he ran for president and in a sweeping victory emerged the first Black president of South Africa. He immediately dismantled apartheid and in a gesture that stunned the world, established a truth and reconciliation commission that enabled both the oppressed and oppressors to openly express the issues of apartheid. Mandela is hailed as a symbol of global peacemaking. He was awarded a Nobel Peace Prize in 1993 and became president one year later.
Below is a partial listing of some we loved and lost in 2013:
January: Patti Page 85, (singer “Tenessse Waltz”) Claude Nobs 76 (founder of the Montreux Jazz Festival, Switzerland) Tony Martin,70 (Trinidadian historian)
February: New York Mayor Ed Koch, (88) Donald Byrd 80 (jazz musician) Lou Myers (77) actor, Jon Odlum (Saint Lucian politician) Cleotha Staples 78, (Staples Singers)
March: Bobby Smith 76, (r&b singer, The Spinners) Bob Teague, 84 (news reporter)
April: Roger Ebert 70 (Chicago film critic) Don Shirley, 86, Jamaican pianist, Olive Lewin, 85 (Jamaican musicologist) Richie Havens, 72 (guitarist, singer) Tony Laing 68 (Jamaican radio personality)
May: Cedric Im Brooks 70 (Jamaican musician) Malcolm Shabazz, 28 (grandson of Betty and El Hajj Malik Shabazz AKA Malcolm X)
June: James Gandolfini 51, (actor, The Sopranos) Bobby Bland 83 (blues singer)
July: Emile Griffith, 75 (boxer USVI) Luis Mendez, 22 (Belizean footballer) Big Joe, 26 (Honduran reggae artist) John Noel 62 (Grenadian NBC reporter)
August: George Duke, 67 (jazz musician)
September: Patti Webster 49, (music publicist)
October: Seymour Mullings, 86 (Jamaican deputy prime minister), Major Owens, 77, (Brooklyn congressman)
November: Herbert Gordon, 61, (Jamaican footballer)
December: Akeem Adams, 22, (Trinidadian footballer) Richard Hart, 96, (Jamaican historian and politician) Junior Murvin, 67, (Jamaican reggae artist, “Police & Thieves”) Peter O’Toole 81, (actor, “Lawrence of Arabia” “Becket,” “Lion In Winter,” et al) Yusef Lateef, 93 (jazz saxophonist) Marie Brooks, (dancer, choreographer) Stan Brooks 86, (reporter, 1010 WINS) John Watusi Branch, 70 (co-founder, African Poetry Theater)
Catch You On The Inside!