(Trinidad Guardian) Journalist Ric (Ulric) Mentus was yesterday remembered as a member of the profession who had a reputation for reporting the truth, particularly about politicians, even when to do so led him into controversy and even danger. At his funeral service at Clark and Battoo’s Chapel on Tragarete Road, Port-of-Spain, Wesley Gibbings, president of the Association of Caribbean Media Workers, spoke of Mentus’ unique skills.
Mentus, 87, a journalist in three countries—his native Guyana, Jamaica and T&T—died alone in his Chase Village, Chaguanas home on September 1. His body was not found for days. Among the newspapers he worked at were the T&T Guardian, Daily Mirror and Sunday Graphic.
The congregation at his funeral was small but included senior members of the media, including Lennox Grant, former editor-in-chief of both the T&T Guardian and Express, and Express columnist Keith Subero. Neil Rolingson, former member of the Integrity Commission, also attended.
Gibbings, recalling Mentus’s life and work said, “Unraveling Ric’s place in the scheme of things is more like negotiating Wilson Harris’s hinterland excursion of the Palace of the Peacock than sitting through the 55-minute Caribbean Airlines flight between Piarco and Timehri.” Mentus, he said, would “answer a probing question with a question of his own which, when one thought about it carefully, pointed in the approximate direction of an answer.”
Gibbings spoke about Mentus’s “hard-hitting” columns published in the Guyana Graphic in the early 1970s when the country’s political situation had become drastic. Journalist Rickey Singh—who was meant to deliver the eulogy but could not travel owing to ill health—was fired from the Graphic at that time after the paper’s editorial balance had, according to his bosses, shifted to hostility towards the Guyanese government and intolerance of its policies.
Officiating minister Gregor Florence, addressing the gathered journalists, reminded them that speaking the truth was a fundamental obligation. “We may lose friends from it, because some people don’t want to hear the truth; it hurts. We must, however, speak the truth and speak the truth to power,” he said.
“As journalists, never compromise the truth and be prepared that that truth may lead you into trouble. If I came back in a next life I would ask to be a journalist so I can question the entire Bible, because I need to know—that’s how I find faith.”