- Reaction score
Harry Belafonte has died at age 96. He was a dedicated activist and award-winning actor and singer. He sold millions of records and starred on stage and screen before scaling back his career and becoming a relentless supporter of civil rights and other causes.
"Daaayy-o, Daaayy-o, Daylight come and we want go home"
I met Harry Belafonte once, on a road in Rwanda (the RN4 Ruhengari - Gisenyi Road, about three miles east of the Mareru Milk Factory to be exact) in 1994. It was early in our deployment on OP PASSAGE; most of our equipment had not yet arrived, those flights having diverted to Entebbe and we were awaiting the vehicles that contained the medical eqpt and sups to drive down from Uganda. In the interim (IMO, to generate reportable activity more than providing a useful service) we would set up "oral rehydration stations"; that's what we were doing on the side of the road just yards from a RPA camp located on the other side of the road. Though we were not expecting any interference from the RPA, it was one of the things on my mind as a couple of their officers came over with questions about our purpose for being there.
As I was interacting with the Rwandan officers (mostly friendly that day), a couple of white (with black lettering) SUVs whizzed past our location and came to a halt just down the road. People got out of the vehicles and started to walk back to our set-up. 'Now WTF?' was my thought. With my attention split between the two sets of visitors, I was not in the most pleasant frame of mind, so I use that as an excuse for the sarcastic reply I made to the woman who was the first of the SUV people to reach us. "Hi there, do you know who this is?", she said, indicating a black man who followed behind her. "How the f*** should I know, is he the president of this shithole?" is what went through my mind but a curt "No" was my response. "It's Harry Belafonte" said she. "Well, how about a chorus of Banana Boat" was my quickly regretted remark.
"Day-o, Day-o, Daylight come and we want go home . . . is that good enough for you" was the identifying reply from the gentleman as he joined us, following him was a camera crew.
Harry Belafonte was a UNICEF Ambassador. UNICEF was lettered on the sides of the SUVs and the camera crew was from UNICEF TV.
That's how I came to be interviewed on UNICEF TV by Harry Belafonte. He was at our section for about twenty or thirty minutes. Following the brief on-camera interview, he chatted with some of the others and expressed genuine interest in what they were doing.