By Tangerine Clarke
The voice of an award-winning
thespian was silenced by complications
of the coronavirus, at his home
in Tampa, Florida mere days after he
shared a link to his popular podcast
to his adoring audience, faithful listeners
in the diaspora.
Ron Bobb-Semple died on Jan. 12,
leaving a gaping wound in the hearts
of many. He was 70.
There was an outpouring of sadness
for Bobb-Semple, a Guyanese-
American, whose portrayal of the
great Jamaican hero, Marcus Garvey
brought audiences to their feet, and
who played the role as Grandpa Nigel,
in the hugely popular Spike Lee movie
“See You Yesterday,” directed by Guyanese
heritage, Stephon Bristol, who
expressed sadness at the passing of
the singer, TV personality and stage
Courtney Noel, who starred alongside,
Bobb-Semple, in the same
movie, said Wow- this is a tough one
Tangerine. I was on my way home last
night planning a phone call with him
to discuss a part I wrote Specifically
for him for an upcoming film project
of mine. A part he had already accepted,
and I was thinking how blessed I
had been to meet him and observe
him in action on the set of Stefon
Bristol’s “See you yesterday.” Ron was
a towering presence on film and in
life and illuminated every scene he
was in with his incredible talent and
love for the craft.
“We didn’t share screen time but
just having him on set encouraged
me and gave me — a first-time actor
— the confidence I needed to play my
small part. Rest in peace my brother.
Thanks for the wonderful, memories!
Waak good,” said Noel.
Caribbean L 36 ife, JANUARY 21-27, 2022
By Stephen Witt
The Prospect Park Alliance is either
elitist or systemically racist,” said Parkbench
Pundit Stumpy Wagers, unwrapping
his breakfast sandwich, egg and
bacon on a roll.
“Watch yourself, brother,” I said.
“Taking on a sacred cow like the Prospect
Park Alliance is cutting the cancel
culture curve close.”
“Whoopy doo,” replied Stumpy. “Everyone
and their brother knows the Alliance
is dominated by limousine liberals
from the Park Slope side of the Park.
People like Bill de Blasio and his bougie
wife, Chirlane McCray, and our new
Comptroller Brad Lander all live on that
side. That’s why the park’s perimeter on
their side has the nice sidewalks and
freshly painted protected bike lanes.”
We were on a bench on the Ocean
Avenue side of the park. Cracked, broken
and raised sidewalks have lined this
strip from Empire Boulevard to Parkside
Avenue for as long as I can remember.
The vegetation grows wild on this
side with brush and bramble lurking
over the park fence like a Halloween
spirit in need of a haircut.
“You have a point,” I said, unwrapping
my breakfast sandwich, egg and cheese
on a roll with salt, pepper and ketchup.
“This side of the park has always been
like the Alliance’s ugly stepchild living
off the budget leftovers.”
“Well you a journalist ain’t you,” said
Stumpy. “Why don’t you ask the Alliance
“Actually, I have a few
times. They always tell me
it’s in the capital plan and is
scheduled to get done.”
“Getting done is not got
Stumpy had a point. I
lived across the street from
the park on Ocean Avenue
for 10 years back in the 1980s
and 90s when the neighborhood
was simply the start of
Flatbush. Even then this side
of the park was ignored compared
to the Park Slope side.
“Well times are changing,
Stumpy,” I said. “Or haven’t
you heard? This neighborhood
is now all gentrified with more
and more whites moving in, and more
and more Blacks moving out. So I
expect the Alliance will repave the area
soon enough. The getting will be got.”
“Maybe, but I would bet a chunk it
will still be the very last part of the park
to be renovated,” wagered Stumpy.
On the next bench over an elderly
black man was rising from his
night’s slumber. He was beneath a large
umbrella with two shopping carts loaded
with a wealth of goods and supplies,
including an African drum tethered to
one of the carts.
He reminded me of my musical past
and my Jamaican wife. We were quite a
couple back then. She a street portrait
painter and me a subway musician. We
brought four children into the world on
this very block across the street from
where Stumpy and I now sat.
I finished my sandwich, crumpled
the wrapping into a tin foil ball and
“Time to get back to the journalism
grind,” I said, bidding Stumpy a good
I walked past the gentleman with the
drum, who was reading the morning
paper. He had natty natural grey hair
and a matching long beard. We traded
“Shalom,” he said.
Always good to meet a fellow tribesman,
I thought. “And shalom to you,
The Ocean Avenue side of Prospect Park. Photo by Stephen Witt
Late thespian, Ron Bobb-Semple,
during a past performance at Guyana’s
Independence celebration at
the Guyana Consulate, New York.
Photo by Tangerine Clarke
Witt’s World: Stumpy Wagers
roasts the Prospect Park Alliance
The Park Slope side of Prospect Park. Photo
by Stephen Witt