Tribute To Jamaal Horton Foreign Service Officer Deceased

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10 APRIL 2019

I first met Jamaal Horton in 2012 through Sandra Carey, now retired, who was then Deputy Consul General in Miami.  She introduced me to Harry Ferguson and Mr. Horton who she said were two young men that were assisting the Consulate General and that they should be brought on formally and not in the extension of the summer school local hire process.

That was done.  It took some doing and for various reasons, mainly to avoid delay but they were taken on by contract.  They had to come back home for training and then reissued contracts for their work in Miami as Attaches. It was intended that Mr. Horton, Mr. Ferguson, Antiro Riley and Brentley Seymour would work in protocol in Miami.  Miami is the busiest external for Foreign Affairs. There is always some official or other passing through Miami and my thinking as Minister was rather than the top officials having to run down to the airport every five minutes these younger people could easily handle the routine protocol responsibilities in addition to their visa and passport work.  They made an enormous difference.

It was intended that they would spend and develop their careers at Foreign Affairs.  Their standard contract was done to facilitate their hiring only but they were to be treated as permanent and pensionable.

Elections have consequences and because they were not on the permanent and pensionable in form, and were suspected of being supporters of the PLP, which apparently is an unpardonable crime to the folks now in power, they were dismissed with a savagery that even shocked me.  It was a wicked, cruel and deceitful thing to have done.  It ruined these young men’s lives, upset their families and their careers. The Foreign Ministry to this day has not paid the price of that disruption to these young people. He worked well and did his best. I thank him.

I use these harsh words decidedly. My view is that what was done to Mr. Horton and the others was a grave injustice. I could not believe that people who one day before 10 May 2017 were their colleagues, seniors and friends would turn so savagely on these folk at the very bottom of the totem pole, making minimum wage money and who had no say in policy.  They were not political appointees. What made it worse is that a former preacher became the Minister and sanctioned the behavior with the nod of a head and the platitude “it’s not personal”.

Unfortunately it had personal consequences. One wants to be careful not to draw a straight line between the untimely demise of Mr. Horton and the events  that I have described but I wonder how different life would have been had he stayed on in his job and developed his career as he intended.  Alas we shall never know.

So a bright young man has gone to his grave, an early grave. 

At the memorial service in Nassau this week, I learned the back story, the extent to which he was greatly admired and loved by his family his uncles and his siblings. They all expressed their views quite strongly.

I am sorry I unable to be at the funeral itself. I make no apology for what I have said in this note.  We lost a talented man from the Ministry. We will never be able to make it up to him.   He is gone.  My condolences to the family. Rest in peace!

Paul Simon writes this:

God only knows
God has his plan
The information is unavailable to the mortal man
We work our jobs
Collect our pay
Believe were riding down the highway
When in fact we’re slip sliding away


Frederick A. Mitchell