The sudden death of any popular figure in Saint Lucia is always met with utter shock, if only until the body has been interred. It also reminds us more than ever of our own mortality, and the certainty of death that comes not only as a thief in the night but often like a daylight robber with an itchy trigger finger. Thanks to social media, however, the expressions of condolences seem endless.
The passing of John ‘Fox’ Benjamin was no different. Reportedly he fell ill at the IGY Rodney Bay Marina on the evening of Tuesday May 23. He often visited the spot, not only as a patron but also as an entertainer well appreciated for often stinging picong. Fox was rushed to the Gros Islet Polyclinic. Alas, he succumbed to a suspected heart attack.
By that evening my Facebook Timeline was a like a book of condolences, with new tributes appearing on the second.
Fox was an ardent calypso fan – among the prominent members of tent pinez. By popular account he enjoyed boat rides, carnival and old-school fetes. Many shared their memories of Fox on Facebook, describing him as particularly jovial, a character who shared hilarious life experiences with whoever would listen. Almost everyone described Fox as “a simple guy”.
I was never close to Fox but knew he was a staunch supporter of the Saint Lucia Labour Party who wore his colours with special pride and at every opportunity. I met Fox on a boat ride some time ago. This is how he introduced me to the captain and another friend: “Gassa, you eh know dah man. Mate is a top journalist, always giving us pressure, ” ‘us’ meaning his party which was then the government. We all laughed.
Fox took great pleasure taking jabs at his political opponents, but never with malice. How things have changed! Even among the media fraternity some have become so infected by the cannibalistic virus that is Saint Lucian politics that long-established have bitten the dust in consequence. Even on Facebook the expressed condolences competed for space with political trash dumped on the dead.
If we can remember anything about Fox it might be that as much as he loved his politics, he loved his friends and fellow Saint Lucians equally. He taught all who met him that we can disagree on some matters and still walk away smiling and in good humour. We are all Saint Lucians, after all; brothers and sisters.
John “Fox” Benjamin worked as a roofing contractor with Caribbean Metals. He was a member of the Monchy community.