Goodbye Luke Somers, For Now: Trench Town Loses a Dear Friend and Bright Spirit


“Only in the darkness can you see the stars,” said Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. There’s another beautiful star up there, now, if we look.

Luke and a young friend, Trench Town.  (Photo: Esther Maagdenberg/Facebook)
Luke and a young friend, Trench Town. (Photo: Esther Maagdenberg/Facebook)

Early on Saturday, in a walled compound in a village in southern Yemen, two hostages were shot by their Al Qaeda captors during a failed rescue mission. They were 33-year-old American freelance photojournalist Luke Somers and South African teacher Pierre Korkie. The hostage-takers (let me just call them terrorists) had posted a video threatening to execute Mr. Somers by today, giving only a three-day deadline according to the New York Times. So a raid by U.S. commandos was organized. Sadly, it was the second attempt to rescue Luke, who was among a group of hostages of various nationalities.

Luke Somers posing with boys in Trench Town, 2010. (Photos are all from the Friends of the Trench Town Reading Centre Facebook page).
Luke Somers posing with children in Trench Town, 2010. (Photos are all from the Friends of the Trench Town Reading Centre Facebook page).

We in Jamaica knew Luke Somers. He was a volunteer at the Trench Town Reading Centre in the summer of 2010. He took over the Grade Three class at the Centre and focused on teaching them creative writing. The children loved him (especially the boys, who thought he was cool). The community loved him; he embraced them and they embraced him back. He stayed on First Street, where the Centre is, in the cottage at the Culture Yard. He was planning to come back, and kept in touch with the Centre’s director, Roslyn Ellison. Before going abroad again (he had first talked about Japan, then plans changed to Yemen) he had hoped to return to Trench Town for a couple of weeks. But according to Roslyn, he could not make it at the time, before going out to Yemen. Luke did not return to Jamaica after all.

Luke with the children showing off their work at Trench Town Reading Centre.
Luke with the children showing off their work at Trench Town Reading Centre.

 

Luke hanging out with boys on First Street, Trench Town, Kingston 12.
Luke hanging out with boys on First Street, Trench Town, Kingston 12.

The photos in this blog post tell the story of Luke Somers in Jamaica. If any of my readers perchance know his family, they might like to share this post. Also please join the Friends of the Trench Town Reading Centre Facebook page, and you will see many comments there from people who knew him. Needless to say, the community of First Street is grieving this evening.

Luke with the children and Sweets at the Trench Town Reading Centre.
Luke with the children and Sweets at the Trench Town Reading Centre.

Luke was kind and generous. Everyone loved him. What more is there to say?

Lunchtime with Luke at Trench Town Reading Centre.
Lunchtime with Luke at Trench Town Reading Centre.

As Reading Centre friend Owen “Blakka” Ellis wrote on Facebook: “Rest in Peace and Rise in Power Luke! Your spirit and your good works live on.”

 

And this quote from The Lord of the Rings perhaps sums up my feelings:

“The world is indeed full of peril, and in it there are many dark places; but still there is much that is fair, and though in all lands love is now mingled with grief, it grows perhaps the greater.”
― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Two Towers

Shine on, Luke Somers. Shine on.

Luke Somers in Sana'a, Yemen, in 2013 - Note the Jamaican wrist band...
Luke Somers in Sana’a, Yemen, in 2013. He was seized off the street in September of that year.  Note the Jamaican wrist band… (Photo: Hani Mohammed/Associated Press)

29 thoughts on “Goodbye Luke Somers, For Now: Trench Town Loses a Dear Friend and Bright Spirit

    1. Thank you, Anne. He was special, indeed. A generous spirit. And sadly, earlier today I came across a photo of him in Yemen – wearing a Trench Town Reading Centre T shirt… Jamaica was still in his heart.

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    1. Thank you. It is painful and sad. When we see these newspaper headlines (all too often) we don’t always see them as “real” people who touched many others’ lives…

      Like

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