Century Club a Place of distinction

  • Staunch supporter: Ottiwell Simmons, the ex-president of the Bermuda Industrial Union, Tinée Furbert, a Progressive Labour Party MP, and the Reverend Nicholas Tweed, of St Paul’s AME Church, are shown with Brownlow Place, who turned 102 this week

    Staunch supporter: Ottiwell Simmons, the ex-president of the Bermuda Industrial Union, Tinée Furbert, a Progressive Labour Party MP, and the Reverend Nicholas Tweed, of St Paul’s AME Church, are shown with Brownlow Place, who turned 102 this week

One hundred runs! Something that every cricketer dreams of getting. More so, they dream of getting those elusive 100 runs during Cup Match.

A feat very few have achieved. One hundred years of age! Ten decades on Earth, something many dream about, yet once again, a feat very few have achieved. So to achieve 100-plus years during the week of Cup Match defies almost all odds.

There is one such individual in Bermuda who has stuck to the wicket and stood up to all the pace and googlies bowled at him.

Possessing a sharp mind, firm handshake, upright posture and laser-like eyesight, one would be hard-pressed to place him, no pun intended, at 80 years of age.

Yet his birth certificate and crystal-clear memory are genuine proof-positive that Brownlow Place has indeed reached his first 102 years on this planet that we call Earth.

There is not much I can write about him that is not already widely known across the island. What I can and will briefly write about is something he spoke about at his 102nd birthday party held at Whitney Institute on Tuesday.

The setting was a hall full of his family, friends and fellow St Paul AME Church members, including, the Premier, David Burt, his wife, Kristin Burt, the Reverend Nicholas Tweed and union legend Ottiwell Simmons.

The atmosphere was laid-back and casual, with light snacks, cake and ice cream as the menu. A bagpiper commenced the evening with a unique rendition of Happy Birthday.

There were no long speeches or testimonials to be had by anyone, as folks were too busy doing what Bermudians do best: interacting with each other. Children in attendance were doing as children do: running around, chasing each other and a big white ball.

Quite fittingly, the room, cake and tables were neatly decorated in all, let me repeat, all Cup Match colours. This could be indicative of two things:

• They wanted all guests, regardless of team loyalty, to feel welcome

• There is a split in the family with team loyalty. Hmmm

One thing for sure, there is no question about who Brownlow Place supports. As the guest of honour, he was the only one to give a speech that evening and, like the skilled statesman that he was born to be, he made his speech short, succinct and spellbinding.

The message was twofold in that the first part of his presentation was about the changes he has witnessed in his time on Earth.

Bearing in mind that he was born in the year 1916, there are very few people alive who can clearly remember the transformation of Bermuda over the past century.

Mr Place spoke about how, as a child, he, along with other black Bermudians, could never even dream about attending Whitney Institute, yet there he was celebrating his 102nd birthday within those very same halls.

He patiently explained that during his formative years, the majority of black Bermudians were basically denied public education and only those who could afford to send their children to school did so, thus creating multiple generations of persons without formal education.

Transitioning his speech, he said that changes came about only when Bermudians took a stand and either built schools or demanded that the colonial government of the day provide some form of basic public education. He emphasised that any and all positive changes come about only when we as a people stand together.

The final part of his passionate speech was that his mother took the time to politically educate her children about the differences between a conservative party and a labour party.

Hence, once the Progressive Labour Party was formed, he readily became a life member.

His message to the PLP was to never forget that it must keep the protection and upliftment of labour as its mantra. Suffice it to say, his words resonated to all in attendance.

As someone who has been given the opportunity to be a columnist, I would like to take this moment to thank Brownlow Place for his work in journalism during the days of open segregation.

Alongside persons such as Ira Philip, in a time when mainstream media ignored our plight, they kept Bermuda and the world informed of what was going on within the black community. Thank you, Mr Place.

Perhaps, just perhaps, within your next 102 years on Earth, you will live long enough to see the cup return to the East, where it rightfully belongs.

Christopher Famous is the government MP for Devonshire East (Constituency 11). You can reach him at WhatsApp on 599-0901 or e-mail at cfamous@plp.bm

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Published Jul 27, 2018 at 8:00 am (Updated Jul 30, 2018 at 4:10 pm)

Century Club a Place of distinction

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