For the Love of Jack

By Dr. Selwyn R. Cudjoe
July 06, 2011

Dr. Selwyn R. CudjoeI have had mixed feelings about Jack’s fall from grace. I have not been able to garner the venom that some have displayed toward him nor the delight others have taken in his departure from FIFA. I am yet to see how Jack’s actions have so maligned Trinidad and Tobago that I have to hang my head in shame when I am in the outside world. Few Americans hang their heads in shame in light of Madoff’s shenanigans.

My association with Jack goes back to the first time we met at the Tacarigua Anglican School in 1976 at a meeting of the Eddie Hart League in which, if memory serves me correctly, he was trying to take over the League or become more involved in it. The Eddie Hart League, the most popular football league at that time in which more than one hundred teams participate, was graced by the presence of football greats such as Ulric “Buggie” Haynes, Keith Aqui, Everett Gally Cummings, Jerry Brown and Leroy de Leon.

Later I got to know more about Jack’s humble beginnings and followed his meteoric rise to the top of the soccer world. I admired his tenacity, intellectual prowess and sheer dogmatism that got him to where he had arrived. Jack remained the same Jack no matter how high he climbed: approachable, generous and cantankerous but a Trini in every essential sense of the term. Even at the height of his power, Jack had no problem dropping by the hotel at which we stayed in Germany and bringing tickets for a few of us to see the USA vs. Italy game during World Cup 2006. And, he wined and dined us as though we were kings.

Jack also did a lot for Caribbean football. During his reign two teams from the smallest island nations in the world (Trinidad and Tobago and Jamaica) made it to the World Cup, a feat that was unprecedented. Because of Jack several Caribbean footballers now play in the top football leagues around the world. One observer notes: “Let’s see what happens to Caribbean football in the next ten years now that Jack is gone.”

Jack was also generous. One could always turn to Jack if one’s organization had a problem and needed help. He kept his little book, it is true, but it was not as if he made his money, by fair means and/or foul, and kept it for himself. It was almost as though he was playing the Robin Hood role in black skin: liberating goods from the rich to ease the sufferings of the poor.

I am not here to commend Jack’s behavior nor to set him up as the ultimate champion of ethics (although I am sure he had an ethics of his own) or morality in pubic affairs. Jack worked for FIFA which many have described as a mafia-styled organization. No one expected him to act as a choir boy in such an organization when its ethics demanded that one acted otherwise. And so he played the part to the hilt.

As in everything else, fame and fortune prevent one from seeing what is possible and what constitutes over-reacting. Sometimes, one forgets at one’s peril that no matter how high a black man gets in any organization he still remains a black man or worse an appellation that begins with the infamous “n” word. You do not insult kings and presidents; prime ministers and chancellors and believe that one can get away scotch free.

And then he became much too flamboyant. He challenged Step Blatter, invited Ben Hamman to Port of Spain, and participated (so it is alleged) in giving out of funds without regard to its consequences. He threw caution to the wind; bet on the wrong horse and lost. My mother used to say, “You do and do until yo’ overdo.” Eventually, Jack over did.

A spectacular chapter of Jack’s life has come to an end and now his career is on the decline. But who is willing to forget the excitement the nation felt when we saw our colors flying at the World Cup in 2006. Who would forget-I certainly can’t forget-the playing of the British national anthem followed by our national anthem as we faced Britain in the first round of the qualifying matches? On that day, more than any other, I felt as an authentic Trini, bereft of the negations that centuries of English colonialism had imbibed within us.

One cannot be proud of how Jack treated the players who brought such glory to our country. They should not have had to go to court to get their just due. That remains a blemish on Jack’s outstanding stewardship. Nor can one be proud of the many persons who felt victimized because they were not in Jack’s camp. The stories of discarded coaches, maligned players and wronged officials fill our ears with sadness. This is a side of Jack that he might regret one day.

But Jack had another side of which we can all be proud. Garth Crooks, a former Tottenham Hotspurs footballer and broadcaster for the BBC, put it best when I spoke with him in London on Sunday. He said: “Whatever else you think of Jack Warner, you have to respect what he achieved for Caribbean football on the world stage and that is glory he enough.” Crooks should know. He represented England in soccer and knows the working of FIFA well.

Jacks is 68 years old, a man at the beginning of old age. He should take comfort in the affection that many of us hold for him. On his seventieth birthday, Rubindranath Tagore, one of India’s greatest poets and statesmen, reflected on the adulation that was bestowed on him and said: “We offer someone our devotion according to the measure of his greatness, our respect according to the measure of his competence; but affection uses no rule of measurement. When love begins its homage it gives itself entire.”

Jack participation in national politics remains a challenging issue. Undoubtedly, I will say something about this in the future. For now, I acknowledge my affection for him and offer him my homage. There is much about him of which the nation should be proud.

11 thoughts on “For the Love of Jack”

  1. As usual a good article from Dr. Cudjoe, that comes from a warm place and a good heart. Compassion is a commendable thing. But true compassion must also involve sometimes saying to a brother that which they will not want to hear.

    There is no man that doeth good and sinneth not (Ecclesiastes 7:20). The converse may or may not also be true, but for sure there are many that sin, who also doeth good, for example Dudus Coke, Pablo Escobar, and of course, Robin Hood.

    So by all means our brother Jack Warner is deserving of the love and commendation of his brethren, and there is none among us with the right to condemn, or even to judge. That is a matter between him and a perfectly just God.

    Nevertheless, Yahweh’s word is like a hammer that breaks rock into small pieces (Jeremiah 23:29), and scripture indicts and convicts the wicked, while showing us the way we should go. Does the following apply to Jack?

    Jeremiah 17:11.
    … he that getteth riches, and not by right, shall leave them in the midst of his days, and at his end shall be a fool.

    Not even Jack may know (for the wicked justify themselves in their own eyes), rather only God.

    What I do know is that Jack is an Israelite, either of the blood or of the Covenant, whether he knows it or not. (The reason is that we, the descendants of the victims of the trans-Atlantic slave trade fulfill all of the curses (Deuteronomy 28:15-68) that were to befall the scattered children of Israel (v. 64) and that were to serve as a sign (v. 46) to help us, and the world, identify us in the latter day.)

    Therefore, it is for sure the case that Jack is bound by the Holy Covenant, and is in violation of same, to the extent he worships the gods of the Hindu. That dispensation may apply to them, but it certainly does not apply to we who are of the house of Israel.

    Therefore I can state with the confidence of a prophet, that Jack will come to no good end, unless, lost sheep that he is, he finds his way back to the flock. And no, this has nothing in essence to do with politics. Rather, I allude to the scripture that foretells the fate of idolatrous Israelites:

    Revelation 21:8.
    But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone

    Again, I do not judge, rather only follow the inescapable logic of Yahweh’s word to his children.

    Neither is it for me to condemn. Condemnation to the lake of fire is only a foregone conclusion if there is no repentance. Yahweh promises that his mercy and forgiveness will be abundantly given to all who repent (and make amends).

    Isaiah 55:7.
    Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto Yahweh, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.

    So there is ample opportunity for Jack, as for the rest of us sinners, to get right with Yahweh before His return, now imminent.

    This is not a Xtian message, for Xtianity also is caught up in various idolatries of its own. Neither is it a matter of creed, for Yahweh handed down a Law, not a creed, and he bound the children of Israel to a Covenant, within which there is no opt-out clause. Anyone who has not studied scripture is in no position to dismiss it as myth or fable. Rather those who do study scripture, and with proper understanding, would stand in awe, for prophecy has unfolded and is unfolding exactly as Yahweh has let us know through his prophets.


    1. Yoruba Israelite, your advice is incisive and generous, and spoken in love for a prodigal brother who has lost his way.

      Jack warner would have begun to find his way back to himself when he begins to love his people, at least as much as he loves, adores and worships at the feet of others, and when he understands that being seen as a Dalit among the Brahmins, there is a difference between being a leader and a ladder.

      1. Yoruba Israelite, your problem is simple you prefer black folks who are conformist and fits into your own world view. Unfortunately, everyone does not follow the herd mentality and black folks are discovering the brave new world of freedom of expression. Mr Warner has done more for black folks than you would ever give him credit for. Just ask the South Africans who recently hosted the world cup….

        1. I think this is far off the mark, but I thank you for your observation all the same.

  2. It is good to see the prof being generous with his thoughts towards Warner. I think it is good to appreciate a fellow countryman because of his great influence in soccer and in the Caribbean soccer in particular. Whatever can be said about Jack I would say he is indeed a true humanitarian. And yes FIFA is an organisation that functions with a different set of rules. Jack gambled and he loss, but did he really lose??? At age 68 a good pension, and the adoration of his constituents what else could Jack ask for??? I would say that the future for Jack is brighter and it is good thing he is no longer in the FIFA mafia or is it? Time will tell.

  3. Well said, not only Trinidad and Tobago but the whole Caribbean was lucky to have Jack Warner, they come once in a life time.
    Remember the words of the Father he who is without sin cast the first stone.

  4. Adoration of what constituents, the parcel he brought to the PP? He was the pied piper, they were the mice. The remaining ethnic constituency of the PPP will have no use for him when the tune that he plays looses its melody and his parcel become disillusioned and cease dancing. Then he well loose his position with the PPP as its chief overseer.

  5. There is a diffrence Mamoo, in your perception of what Jack Warner has done fo Black Folks, and we who are the folk that should have received whatever you are talking about. Like the slave master of yore and his current day descendants, you measure good black people based on how they kowtow to your ethnic ego enhancing mindset. In thsi context Jack Warner is goods for black people because he forgets that he is black, ignores his history and his ancestors, while allowing you to revel and glorify yours. So this makes him good for black people.

    Ask the South Africans what? Burnham of Guyana gave more to the South African Struggle for freedom than any other Caribbean Leader. He hosted them in Guyana, and sent a yearly stipend that Guyana could not even afford to that struggle. You in your insipid and noxious prejudice, again like the slave master and his descendants, measure good for black people based on a sporting event.

    It is always amazing to detect the shared mindset and way of thinking among people with a common genetic beginning, a shared inherent set of prejudices, and a common dialectism in the expression of and manifestation of this prejudice. We do not allow your symbiotic kin to determine our heroes, so disabuse yourself of the notion that you have that right.

  6. The lord said go ye and sin no more.He also said to the people,if there is a man out there with sin cast the first stone.

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