The month of December as we westerners know it, has always been bittersweet, a time of reflection and worship for some who are Christians and a time of revelry for others who drown themselves in bacchanalia. It’s the Christmas holidays that almost everyone looks forward to, either to give or receive or both, but for many others, it’s a time of loneliness, sadness and isolation, even death.
Lowell Hawthorne’s death delivered a body blow to our community on December 3, then 15 days later another iconic Jamaican, Ian Boyne, Journalist, and television personality made his departure without the drama, but with the same visceral impact on our sensibilities. I might have been among the few last interviews Ian conducted between September and the time of his demise, so his awesome, penetrating but reassuring personality is still fresh in my mind. Ian never received a College education, he was the College and everybody knew that – especially when you jousted with him mentally. The man was a walking encyclopedia, a reservoir of information that plumbed the realms of comparative religion, cognitive psychology, neuroscience and all things tangential. It’s now legendary that any Jamaican who had amounted to being somebody in the larger world – they had to talk to Ian Boyne on “Profile,” his signature human interest talk show that ran for over 25 years.
Ian possessed a fascinating trait that’s so rare in the average person, he never felt threatened by the academics he interviewed but relished the process of exchanging big ideas, new frontiers and breakthrough developments in human behavior. I strongly believed he refused to learn to drive because he thought it was a waste of time and he never flew because he wouldn’t allow himself the discomfiture it would cause him. He tried hard to protect himself from the unknown. His idiosyncrasies heightened his intellect, allowing him to spend more time with his passion – pursuing knowledge, gathering information and sharing it liberally, he wanted a surfeit of it and couldn’t get enough.
Sitting with Ian through an interview is like a magic carpet ride, you know there are no grab – bars, no safety – cage and definitely no parachute, but you enjoy the ride. He is a consummate facilitator and a master motivator who would have been the master of his craft anywhere he went, but he refused to fly. Now I wish I had got to know him better because of his towering intellectual curiosity and brilliant mind, which had no comfort with the status quo. Since he never desired to travel by air he perfected an appeal that brought people to him with often spectacular results and powerful memories.
His friends describe him as an unrepentant polemicist who never let anything get in the way of pursuing a good argument, his motive, however, was never to win the argument but to expand its boundaries, clarify its premise and analyze its relevance. Those who persist with the notion that an argument or idea ought to be dumbed down for the benefit of the less informed have all missed the impact of Mr. Boyne’s brilliant programming which always raised the level of the discourse. The response to his death was as resonant with the little guy as with his peers, he is being mourned by the young and old, rich and famous and across all political lines, the legacy of Mr. Ian Boyne is assured, both on earth and in heaven. Farewell my brother, YOU ARE A MAN APART!