John F. Kennedy, Jr.: The Death of a Goodson

The sudden and unfortunate death of any "good son" or "gooddaughter" makes the heavens wail, and the earth overflow with tears.People of all climes and races, men and women, boys and girls ofdifferent persuasions and faiths mourn the good son, the gooddaughter. Remarkably, humankind does this even without having neitherseen nor touched the remarkable person they behold.

Iam delighted by the fact despite all the conflicts besmirching ourplanet, amidst all the angst, beyond most of the ancient and currentshatreds, a universal and caring stream of consciousness and rivers ofsympathy flow to create an ocean of shared, pan-human sensitivity andmourning when a good person dies. This disposition is evident acrossalmost all ethnic groups and religions. Africans, especially, have agood sense for shared communal mourning; one for all. I remembergrowing up as a kid in my south eastern Nigeria Igbo community andwitnessing such shared concerns; it's another angle to the Africanwise saying "It takes a village!"

Hence, once the saddening tragedy of a "good son" John F. Kennedy,Jr., his wife, Carolyn Bessette Kennedy, and Lauren Bessette, herolder sister was announced first on MSNBC by veteran reporter RobertHager on a beautiful summer Saturday morning of July 17, 1999, it wasan unfolding tragedy which touched many, the village.

For thousands of Africans across the United States, and millionsinside the continent who are ardent watchers of the Kennedy clan,that terrible tragedy touched the hearts of our community. For a longtime, and due to the fact of the family's redemptive and frontlineefforts for civil rights, continental Africans like other Blacks,have considered the Kennedys to be "our friends." No matter that onlya handful of continental Africansknow the Kennedy folks personally. Particularly, the recentimmigrants of African origin across the Boston, Massachusetts collegeand educational belt, Houston, New York, Washington, Atlanta, Chicagoand Los Angeles areas of the U.S share a sense of sadness and numbingdisbelief regarding the terrible horror of the July 17, 1999disaster.

From Savannah State University (near Atlanta, in Georgia), ChigboOfong, professor of management and a former Republican party precinctleader in Silver Spring, Maryland, informed that"although I may disagree in terms of political viewpoints withSenator Ted Kennedy on certain issues, I admired JFK Jr.'s sense forpublic service." From Los Angeles, Niyi Ademola remembered him as"not only living up to the traditions of service laid forth by hisfather, but his personal decorum was unique."

JermaineNkrumah of the African Community Organization in Houston said "It's avery painful and mysterious thing happening to a very wonderfulperson. It's truly painful." Aggrey Kanu Oji, Jr., an accountant inSt. Louis in Missouri said "It's very, very sad. He's very wellbehaved and his mother trained him well, after his father was killed.It's a sad loss."

Ghabrega Tuannius in Dallas said "JFK Jr. served as role model formany youths in the world." Aisha Bello in Washington D.C., describedhim as a "breath of freshness. I personally like him." Chidi Amamgbo,an Oakland-based attorney and contributing editor, reported that "Our community in California felt aterrible sense of concern for this tragedy."

Also, Orji Kalu, recently elected Governor of Abia State inNigeria, informed and "in myview, JFK Jr. accepted everyone, regardless of their color or creed.We're stunned by this tragedy."

The same feeling of disbelief was evident across African communitieshere in the U.S., since the Saturday morning, July 17, 1999, reportabout the mysterious crash of his small, private, six-seater PiperSaratoga aircraft.

John F. Kennedy Jr., 38-year-old son of John F. Kennedy, the latePresident of the U.S., was flying from New Jersey to the Kennedy homenear Martha's Vineyard. With his and her sister, they were flying tomeet some pre-wedding events of John's cousin Rory, the youngestdaughter of the late Sen. Robert F. Kennedy. Although some on-flightitems floated to the shores and have been recovered, the chances ofsurvival of the three seem very dim.

Okey Dike, a Houston-based attorney told thatthe Kennedys are remembered for their public service, institutionalwealth, unrelenting tragedies and fatalistic events, handsomepresence, social excesses, but above all, a patriotic sense of duty.JFK Jr served until his death as Editor-inchief and Publisher ofGeorge magazine. He was born on November 25, 1960. His father, JohnF. Kennedy, 35th President of the United States of America wasassassinated on November 22, 1963. His late mother Jacqueline BouvierKennedy-Onassis His mother died on May 19, 1994. He was married toCarolyn Bessette on September 21, 1996. He has a sister CarolineKennedy-Schlossberg .

In many ways, JFK Jr was an emerging, humble, good son, and abridge between the Kennedyesque Camelot and the post-modern age. Hewas mild and graceful. If one had a definitive wish against the deathof anyone, in this century, into the next millennium, especially thisweekend, I'll venture to hope against all odds: Say it ain't trueabout John-John!

Why should this promising, affable, humble, public- spirited,likable and very handsome "good son" vanish under such mysteriouscircumstances.


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Nwangwu,recipient of the Journalism Excellence award (1997), is Founder andPublisher of (first African-owned U.S.-basedprofessional newspaper to be published on the internet), USAfrica TheNewspaper, NigeriaCentral.comand TheBlack Business Journal. He also serves as anadviser to the Mayor of Houston on international business (Africa)and appears as an analyst on CNN, VOA, NPR, CBS News, NBC and ABCnews affiliates.

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