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N Touch
Sunday 27 May 2018
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Editorial

Job’s spirit

DR MORGAN JOB, who died on Sunday at the age of 76, was a unique figure in our civic life. He was a thinker, a writer, a politician, an economist, a media personality — someone who wore several hats and wore them comfortably, leaving an impression in whatever he did. What united all of his roles, however, was a steadfast patriotism that found expression in his willingness to be critical of his homeland and its politics in service of a greater vision for this country.

Job was born on April 2, 1942, at Zion Hill, Belle Garden, Tobago. His early education was at Belle Garden EC School; St Elizabeth’s College, Roxborough; Bishop’s High School, Scarborough, and Queen’s Royal College, Port-of-Spain.

In 1961, he was among the first students to enrol at the Imperial College of Tropical Agriculture, the precursor institute to what is today the University of the West Indies (UWI). He furthered his studies at Guelph University, Canada, then received his doctorate in economics at Purdue University, Indiana.

Job’s education, however, was not limited to academic settings. He also worked extensively in countries such as Tanzania and Brazil. In 1978 he accepted a Rockefeller Foundation project to work in Kenya for a year as a research economist. On his return to Trinidad, Job worked at various State departments and was eventually appointed economic adviser to ANR Robinson in 1986. From 1991 to 1997 he was a lecturer at UWI.

Job entered Parliament in May of 1997 as the Member for Tobago East, having won a by-election occasioned by ANR Robinson being elected president. During the Fifth Parliament, Job served as minister of Tobago affairs, and later as minister in the ministry of finance. He also acted in several ministerial capacities including minister of national security.

It is not often appreciated how pervasive Job’s influence was during his years as a politician. He served on almost every single Cabinet committee, including those relating to energy, education, and health. At one stage, he chaired the Finance and General Purposes Committee — a key entity in Government decision-making.

“I never talked about that,” Job once said. He was later scathing of local politics, decrying its link with racial thinking.

Often Job minced no words and this brought him praise and infamy in equal measure. He once declared the people of Laventille to be swine. His entry into the world of broadcasting marked an era when people were really able to test freedom of speech. He was one of the first major radio personalities who could be relied upon to be frank and provocative. Listeners often tuned in to Reality Check where he once said: “The enemy of the people is ourselves.”

His death may have silenced him, but his spirit lives on.

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