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