Thu | Dec 7, 2023

Youth regrets father not alive to share UWI journey

Published:Friday | September 29, 2023 | 12:07 AMAlbert Ferguson/Gleaner Writer
Gilberto Jackson (centre) accepts his tuition cheque from Homer Davis (right), member of parliament for St James Southern, while his mother, Erica Jackson, looks on.
Gilberto Jackson (centre) accepts his tuition cheque from Homer Davis (right), member of parliament for St James Southern, while his mother, Erica Jackson, looks on.


IN ORDER to prepare himself to one day run his own firm, Gilberto Jackson, 19, of York Bush, Mount Cary, St James, has enrolled at The University of the West Indies (UWI), Mona Western Jamaica Campus, to study business management.

But while the adolescent is determined to achieve his ambitions, there is a void that will always be present in the front of his mind: the loss of his father, Gilbert Jackson, who was murdered exactly one year ago.

Gilberto was one of 30 tertiary students from the constituency of Southern St James to receive grants from Homer Davis’ $2.7 million St James Southern Tuition Bursary last week.

Although Gilberto is thrilled to be taking the first step towards realising his goals, he is sad that his father, the family’s primary provider, will not be around to witness his first day of attending university.

The soft-spoken Gilberto explained, “Now that I am attending university, I am disappointed that my dad is not here to see me.”

“My father was one of the main breadwinners for my family; his death has made things more difficult, financially,” Gilberto remarked after receiving a tuition payment from Davis.

In an interview with The Gleaner, the youngster explained how the loss of his father had affected him. “It made things a lot more difficult and I have become more reserved, guarding against who I allowed into my circle,” he said.

On September 12 of last year, Gilbert, a cabinet maker aged 56, and his friend, Henry Salmon, aged 64, a cooking gas operator, were ambushed and killed.

The unfortunate event occurred at around 9 a.m., when Salmon was helping Jackson deliver a new set of cupboards by driving his truck.

Gilberto and his younger brother, who now attends Anchovy Primary School, have had to make do without their father’s presence at home.

The UWI business management major admitted, “It is really difficult not seeing my father coming home as we had grown up experiencing.” He revealed that the first nine months after his father’s senseless murder were the most trying periods of his life.

Erica Jackson, Gilberto’s mother, is the sole provider for her four kids now that she works as a gas station attendant. Even after a year has passed, she still can’t believe her spouse is gone.

“To this day, I can hardly believe what happened to my husband. I wasn’t expecting this type of death.”

She told The Gleaner that while her husband was receiving treatment for diabetes, she had no reason to believe he would be murdered.

“It has been rough not seeing my husband coming home to us as he used to,” she said, noting that it was always nice to see him when he gets off work, spending time with the children.

For MP Davis, Gilbert’s untimely death is still haunting him to the point where the carpentry work that he wanted his friend and political confidant to carry out, remains in limbo.

Gilbert’s death, Davis said, feels as if it happened only yesterday.

“The senseless act of murder is really touching. He was supposed to come and do some work at my house the following week. Those works have not yet started and I don’t think they will ever be ... ,” he disclosed.

According to the south St James MP, he promised Gilberto’s mother that he would make himself available to provide fatherly advice and encouragement where it is needed to the boys, and that he would cover their educational expenses whether he is in or out of politics.

“Gilbert was like a brother to me ... he was really a good guy,” Davis said as he tried to hold back his tears during a Gleaner interview.

“He was my political confidant, my carpenter, cabinet maker and furniture builder. He was such a nice guy, so I have committed to do all I can do for his children.”