I was deeply saddened on Tuesday night to learn of the death of Mr. Kamaluddin Mohammed.
He was a great patriot who personified service. He was also a leading member of the Islamic community and dedicated his life to serving his community and our nation both as a senior cabinet minister and as an ordinary citizen.
Trinidad and Tobago has suffered a great loss and on behalf of myself and my family and my extended UNC family I extend condolences to his immediate family and the Mohammed clan.
The Quran says: “Inna lillahi wa inna ilayhi raji’un”. We trust that our departed brother, who dedicated his life to Allah, shall return to Him.
Charch, as he was fondly called by all, was a founding member of the People’s National Movement (PNM) and served as a senior cabinet minister for thirty years. He was the most trusted confidante of Dr. Eric Williams but when Dr. Williams died in 1981 he was bypassed in favour of George Chambers to succeed Dr Williams as prime minister.
He stayed out of active politics until Prime Minister Basdeo Panday called him back to national service and appointed him CARICOM ambassador. He was later honoured with CARICOM’s highest award, The Order of Caricom in 2012; two years earlier my government awarded him our country’s highest national award, The Order of Trinidad and Tobago.
Kamluddin Mohammed met kings and commoners and mingled with the world’s most powerful men and women. At home he helped define our society and mould and shape our national institutions. Yet he always remained a simple, humble man who lived in the community that nurtured him and spent much of his time in retirement attending to family matters and community service.
He was also a cultural icon. In 1947 he made history when at age 20 he became the colony’s first ethnic broadcaster. It happened in the same year that he became Imam at the Mosque at Queen Street, Port of Spain after impressing skeptics with his brilliance as a theologian. Less than a decade later he was sitting in the cabinet, an equal among the most influential leaders of the time.
From his childhood, he was surrounded by religion and culture, which taught him sound family values, discipline and respect for authority. He was versed in Islamic teachings and was fluent in Arabic, Hindi, Farsi and Urdu.
Many will remember him for his service to our country and our various communities. And some will always remember his voice on the radio that became the signature for Indian programming since 1947: “Muday lakh burah cha-hay to kya hota hai, wohi hotay hai jo manzooray Khoda hota hai” (Thousands may wish me harm, but nothing happens unless it is the will of the almighty).
Our nation and each of us owes Kamaluddin Mohammed a debt of gratitude for his selfless service. May his soul find eternal rest as it returns to Allah.