Early this morning, July 10 2020, I was greeted with the sad news that my friend, Oliver (Bamboo, Sparrow, Ramotar) crossed over to the great beyond. On behalf of the John Family, I wish to express our deepest condolences.

Most of his contemporizes called him Bamboo or Sparrow. I knew him by all three of his nicknames. Each had its own association. Each had its own meaning.

Bamboo was the tailor. In my youth, he was probably the most important person in the neighborhood. He made clothes for everyone, male and female. He was good. He was a quiet man; he spent countless hours at his home making trousers: long pants and short pants. Carnival season and the beginning of the school year were his peak periods. He worked tirelessly to please everyone and never complained or never raised his voice. I don’t know how much money he made but it never seemed that his service was about money. It was his duty. It was his service.

Sparrow was a steelpan man. He was the band leader for the Victoria Village Steelband. I was not a member of the band because I never learned to play a pan however, at Carnival I was welcomed to help pull the carts so that I would get a free pass into Victoria Park. Sparrow was the leader, the tuner, the arranger and played the tune pan. He was a proud band man, bringing one of the few bands from the country into Kingstown for Carnival. On Carnival Tuesday, the band was drawn on carts, pulled by little boys around the streets of Kingstown to joy and entertainment of the onlookers. It was not about money. It was the service!

Ramotar was a slow medium pacer. He loved cricket as much as he loved tailoring and steel band music. He adapted the name Ramotar. He loved being called that name. Apart from being a great lover of the game, he is recognized for his contribution as a coach. There would not have been a Spartans Cricket Club or the great Calder School Cricket Team without Ramo. He was always present with other adults encouraging us and teaching us the way. He was also a team player for The Rest of The World Team, captained by North.

In his later years, Oliver became more spiritual and became an ardent member of Mr. John’s spiritual Baptist Church at Belmont. Every Sunday, rain or shine he journeyed up the hill to worship. A fitting end to a life well lived; a man whose life was dedicated to the service of others.

I am proud to have called him my friend. I connected with him about a month ago. These were his last words to me: “Thank you for reaching out to me Scombo. My mind is more on the grave than on the living. Have mercy upon me Lord.”

May his soul rest in Peace.

Scombo John

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