GOODNIGHT O CAPTAIN! MY CAPTAIN! - EntornoInteligente / The trinidad Guardian / A few years ago, a family member, who was both ailing and elderly, remarked that we are all born with an “expiration date”.

None of us know when our earthly lives will end. It can be sudden and unexpected, as was the case with the tragic drowning of local thespian Brett Bengochea two Saturdays ago. But for the rest who are blessed with long and full lives, there is a certain solace to be found during the twilight years.

Not only is there the opportunity to come to terms with our mortality, but to look back and reflect on whether the time given to us was well spent or wasted.

Anthony Norman Sabga, the founder and former chairman of the ANSA McAL Group of Companies, honoris causa doctorate in Law from UWI, and recipient of the Order of T&T, passed away on May 3.

He came to these shores in 1930 as an immigrant in search of a better life. And after years of hard work and dedication, he made himself into one of the most successful businessmen in the region. It’s a fitting metaphor—from being a lowly passenger on a ship to becoming a captain of his very own; the quintessential tale of “rags to riches”. By that measure alone, it would be easy to validate his life as being well spent considering the list of accomplishments behind his name. However, though it is a major chapter of his life story, there are many others that are equally as important.

Much of that story is contained in his autobiography “A Will and a Way” which was published in 2015. I mentioned it in my column dated December 30 of that year. Prior to reading it, I can’t say I knew much about him beyond his public reputation.

Ironically enough, though he and I have been in the same space on numerous occasions, I only met him once. And it wasn’t memorable enough for me to feel comfortable referring to him as “Uncle Tony”. Having lost my own grandfather when I was barely into my adolescence years, I am sure there was much to learn had I sought him out; from his memories as a boy in Syria, to the experience and history of the Arab arrival to Trinidad. That being said, for many people outside of his immediate family, both in the Arab and national communities, he was a source of wisdom, and was known as a kind and generous person.

With respects to my own impression of him, I refer to a paragraph taken from the before-mentioned column. “If I had to highlight just one attribute that fuels the Arab-Trinidadian work ethic, it would be the emphasis our elders place on family. And an aspect of that devotion is the desire for their progeny to live up to their potential and surpass the achievements of their parents. It’s a cycle in which each generation recognises that they benefit from the sacrifices made by the one before, and accepts that they must do the same for the one to come.

Describing such a sacrifice, the one made by his father, is how Mr Sabga begins his story. Its conclusion reflects the same theme—with him proudly surrounded by his children and grandchildren who will carry on the legacy. Not only is he a success as a captain of industry, but as a family man.”

While many will gather at his funeral to honour this man and his towering accolades, there are those who will mourn the passing of someone whom they called husband, father, grandfather, friend, and mentor. Take away his wealth, his conglomerate, and his degree, and the man remains. He was someone who loved and was loved, who faced personal challenges, and undoubtedly had fears and moments of self-doubt. Yet there are two lessons that we can take from the life of “Tony Sabga”: the first is to have unyielding perseverance in whatever task we undertake, and the second is to do right by everyone we interact with. Most of us may never enjoy the level of notoriety that comes from owning a business empire, but each of us should always strive to be a credit to our family and friends, and our country.

In sombre moments like these, it can be difficult to find words that are befitting such individuals of stature. So I will borrow those written by the American poet, Walter Whitman, to mark the passing of Abraham Lincoln. They are taken from the opening lines from the first and last stanzas: “O Captain! My Captain! our fearful trip is done, The ship has weather’d every rack, the prize we sought is won/The ship is anchor’d safe and sound, its voyage closed and done, From fearful trip the victor ship comes in with object won.”

Heavenly Father, eternal rest be granted unto your servant Anthony Sabga. Let perpetual light shine upon him. And may the souls of all the faithful departed (for you Brett), through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.

Ryan Hadeed


Con Información de The trinidad Guardian

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