Pan-African Jamaican statesman Dudley Thompson has died at 95

Ambassador Dudley Thompson, a historic figure in Jamaica and the Pan-African global movement, died Friday, a day after his 95th birthday, Jacqueline Charles of The Miami Herald reports.

He was a historical figure in the politics of Jamaica and in the larger global struggle to unite people of African descent. Hard to miss with his cheerful disposition, intellect and passionate conversations, Ambassador Dudley Thompson drew crowds no matter where he went.

A former Jamaican cabinet minister who served as a minister of national security, justice and foreign affairs, Thompson died Friday morning in New York, the day after he turned 95. He was scheduled to celebrate the next week in New Jersey. He lived in Weston.

“We will miss his intellect, his stature,” said Jamaica’s Miami Consul General Sandra A. Grant Griffiths, whose office confirmed the death. “He was all over the place.”

Griffiths last saw Thompson in December when he attended a holiday gathering at her residence. There, like elsewhere, he drew crowds to his side as he discussed Jamaica, and Africa, the continent where he served as an envoy in several countries including Nigeria, Namibia and Ghana, and practiced law as a young man. It was while defending the late Jomo Kenyatta during his Mau Mau rebellion trial in Kenya that Thompson became well-known across Africa.

Jamaican Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller described Thompson as “a man of firm convictions, articulate, sharp on his feet and witty. Dudley Thompson loved his country with a passion and served it with honor and distinction.”

Thompson was up with the times. He blogged and had his own website. His dream was to see a united Africa and was president of the World African Diaspora Union..

According to his website, he was born in Panama and raised in Jamaica. He served in Britain’s Royal Air Force during World War II, and he was a Rhodes scholar. In the early 1950s, he practiced law in Tanzania and Kenya, and became involved in the nationalists struggles in both countries.

In October, Thompson made history when the African Union made him the first person to become a citizen of the continent and gave him a passport. Dozens of African presidents attended the ceremony, said Djibril Diallo, senior advisor to the executive director of the UNAIDS and advisor to the President of Senegal on Diaspora Affairs.

Diallo said Thompson left him a voice mail on his cell phone just days ago telling him to call because he had some suggestions on their ongoing collaboration to promote Africa.

“I was working on getting him an honorary ambassadorship for the entire African continent,” said Diallo, whose relationship with Thompson dates back more than 20 years. “He’s amazing as a Pan-Africanist, and has worked to the last hour just preaching Africa and the diaspora.’’

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