Here in Nassau, in the cultural and academic communities, and in the Baptist community and the Cat Island community and the conscious community, we’re grieving at the death of Thaddeus Macdonald, Dean of the Faculty of Social and Educational Studies.
We’re grieving because of the kind of man we’ve lost. And we’re grieving because his was a violent death.
Dr. Mac was the kind of quiet, gentle man who chose to serve as the backbone to major movements, rather than to stand out in front. For those of us who had the privilege to work with him, we will know that he exhibited temperance, commitment, and integrity. He took on causes and supported causes, but did the work in the background that didn’t always get him the accolades and notice that others did.
I got to know him through the College of The Bahamas, of course, when I first joined the School of Social Sciences, and we respected one another academically. Our interests intertwined in 2002, when the School of Social Sciences put on their symposium on Junkanoo and Christianity, when Dr. Mac’s paper on African spirituality helped to provide a context for certain elements of Junkanoo that were then, and may continue to be, imperfectly understood. Our relationship deepened when we both served on the National Commission for Cultural Development from 2002-2007. Thaddeus was one of the most faithful members, one of the handful who could be counted on to show up to meetings and to do the work behind the scenes.
Through all of it was his quiet commitment to our West African heritage and identity. This was a commitment he didn’t wear like a cloak, but that informed everything he did. This year alone, he quietly championed the commemoration of the Bicentenary of the Transatlantic Slave Trade, which we as a nation and as a society have studiously ignored. He supported everything that was done to commemorate that, from the Commission’s calendar of events to the Indaba series of lectures, to the numerous conferences on the subject. He was ubiquitous on radio talk shows and at public functions. He was a founding member of the Festival of African Arts, whose idea of celebrating our African heritage was an idea clearly before its time, and whose grand plan of having monthly activities was adjusted to a weekend event for the commemoration of Abolition. He visited Ghana this year for its fiftieth anniversary of independence, and joined in the celebration of the country that led the decolonizing movement in Africa. He was instrumental in organizing and establishing the College of The Bahamas’ conference on Abolition, to occur next February.
I say “we”. Perhaps I shouldn’t speak for others. Let me speak, then, for myself.
Walk good, Dr. Mac. We love you. We shall miss you more than we could ever guess.