By anguillian October 17, 2016 11:39


Only four months and three days separated them when the well-respected and multi-faceted Whaldama (Ras B) Brooks passed away on June 4, 2016.

As fate would have it, the equally-admired and complex Howard (Iwandai-I Jahsenti-I) Gumbs, followed him on Friday, October 7, sending the same level of shockwaves across Anguilla and beyond. Inseparable friends in life, they are now reunited in death. It is a sobering thought confronting everyone, especially close and endearing friends, and evoking a double sense of unfathomable loss of these two late individuals.

The voices of the two close-knit friends are now silent on UPBEAT Radio – the station they created and established together but now have left the staff there and the multitudes of listeners they informed and influenced everywhere, greatly bereft and shaken. They were truly examples and icons of what it really means to be exceptional friends and colleagues working and living in a spirit of oneness, humility, moderation, and love.

Such was the affinity between them that it was, and still is, difficult to refer to one without the other; but while all and sundry had begun to console themselves in relation to the passing of Ras B, the demise of Iwandai is fresh and nagging on their mind, and the subject of much tribute and other pleasant commentary.
It was in that light and his noble contributions to Anguilla and its people, that two leaders in the Anguilla House of Assembly paid glowing tribute to him (of course not without reference to Ras B) at the commencement of the sitting on Tuesday this week. The speakers, on behalf of their colleagues, were the Leader of Government Business and Chief Minister, Mr. Victor Banks, and the Leader of the Opposition, Ms. Palmavon Webster.

“Mr. Speaker, we are saddened over the passing of a young man who made a considerable contribution to the national development of Anguilla, and after the passing of his partner Ras B, very close associates alike,” Mr. Banks said.
Recalling his early days in church with Iwandai, and his almost big brother relationship with him, Banks continued: “Mr. Speaker, I must say that Howard (Iwandai) Gumbs and Whaldama (Ras B) Brooks built a very strong and very vibrant radio project, formerly known as Heart Beat Radio and later as UPBEAT Radio well-known and listened to all across this region. Many people looked forward to hearing their early morning programmes as well as when Ras B was alive, the news programmes and the other commentaries that served to inform about the issues in this country.
“Iwandai was a great citizen of Anguilla not only as a radio personality, not only as someone who did most of the marketing for Heart Beat Radio and UPBEAT Radio. He was very much interested in the state of Anguilla, especially the environment and you will see a number of roadside areas, and especially around the corners, where he took it upon himself as a project to clear and develop those areas for the visibility of traffic…

“Mr. Speaker, he was a well-rounded individual and I am sure that a number of persons, within this community and the region, will miss him greatly…We can remember very often his morning programmes. Even though, on occasions, they might have had a political bent, they were always very entertaining and we always knew that Iwandai was speaking from his heart.
“There was also a time that he ran for political office in District 4 – the constituency that I now represent. Even though he was unsuccessful, he made a statement and created a number of supporters who really believed that he deserved an opportunity to participate in politics in Anguilla. We mourn his passing and certainly empathise with his family, his mother, his significant other, Gloria Reid in Rey Hill, and her family. I am sure that we all will give our sympathies to them in this period of bereavement. Certainly, Anguilla mourns the loss of a great young man.”

Opposition Leader, Ms. Palmavon Webster, said in part: “Mr. Speaker, the thing I remember most, and that will stay with me in relation to Iwandai, is his dedication and commitment to the cause of Anguilla. He was truly a person who believed in the ideals of democracy and the ideals of every person. For many, many years, I have known Iwandai ever since I was a young student at The Valley Secondary School. In fact, I was very much inspired in the pursuit of the dramatic arts by Iwandai; and I still remember having a discussion with him about the responsibility of having a voice and using your voice. He was the person who did the drumming for a production I did with a young girl… For me, his voice was the voice of the people.”
Ms. Webster went on: “Today, we mourn the passing of Iwandai and I extend my condolences to his family, his children, siblings and his entire UPBEAT Radio family. I also extend my condolences to the rest of the community. It is very, very hard indeed to lose Iwandai, in quick succession to having lost Ras B as well as losing other Rastafarian brothers and sisters at this time. They represent, for me, in their pursuit of freedom, and social justice, the abiding values of one love, respect and a commune with nature. To the Rastafarian community, we can say that the legacy of these great icons passed, will survive and continue.”

Meanwhile, it is expected that Iwandai’s children and family will soon announce the arrangements they are making for his funeral.

By anguillian October 17, 2016 11:39


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