15 August 2011

Turks & Caicos Cultural Hero Joins the Ancestors

Loss of an icon, Cultural hero and champion for young people

Wesley Williams, dearly known to many as ‘Tanka’ or ‘Coach’, was iconic across the TCI and Bahamas. A mentor and a teacher of all sorts, he died in Inagua, Bahamas, on Sunday of heart complications at the age of 50.
In 2007 he received special recognition as the Weekly News’ People’s Choice Person of the Year, but those who knew this great man can surely say that he was a man for all seasons.Best known for his association with Junkanoo, Tanka was a breathing symbol of national as well as cultural pride.
In an interview with a Weekly News journalist he once said: “It’s very important to keep your own culture rather than just absorb others. If we don’t protect it, it will die.” Those words are now alive more than ever in the hearts of those such as the ‘Predators’ Junkanoo group who helped him keep his dream alive.When he spoke, he commanded respect not by rough or abusive language but by words that allowed the listener to see that he was a learned man that never spoke anything he did not believe.
A man whose countless experiences in life allowed him to view a situation from different angles, tear it apart and re-construct it so that it no longer appeared to be the same thing.“Coach Tanka taught me more than basketball, he taught me some of the most important fundamentals in life and I thank him for that,” said Guillaume Lange, a member of the BWIC Spartans where Tanka served as a PE teacher.
Despite his involvement with basketball teams, Tanka was a die-hard softball advocate. Captain of the ‘Lil Giants’ softball team, Daniela Carroll, said on behalf of her team mates: “We express our deepest sympathy to our coach Tanka's family on such a big loss. Coach was more than a coach; he was a mentor, a teacher and most of all a role model. “He will be missed by the entire team and school at large. We will continue to, in his words, to close our eyes and examine what we see.“‘No excuses! Stay focused! You never know what you had until it’s no longer there!’
Tanka's legacy will live on forever. He had a family outside his own, a sports family and a mentoring family. “He will truly be missed,” comments Devonte Smith on the Facebook account dedicated to the legend’s memory.President of the Turks and Caicos Softball Association, Godfrey Been, extended his deepest condolences to the family.“He was a real sportsman and he had a unique style of coaching. “He coached in a no nonsense method and got across the message that you were there to win. “We had our differences but we had immense respect for one another. Tanka helped grow softball in the Islands and he will always be remembered.”
Mr Been spoke of a softball tournament that will be held on July 4 each year in honour of the late Tanka. “I’m going to ensure that this tournament goes on as long as I live,” said Mr Been. Don Porter, of the International Softball Association, also offered condolences to the family for their loss. Tanka’s accomplishments range from being a teacher, a coach, a mentor to a representative of the people, he said.A kindred spirit who definitely etched his mark in the Islands and in the hearts of the people who knew him.He is indeed irreplaceable and will forever remain an example of how to stand up for what you believe in and how to be as unique as possible in anything you set out to do.

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