“Our collective Hearts are heavy with Sympathy”
The deeply shocked people of Gondar city in learning the sad demise of the distinguished surgeon, great teacher, social worker, poet, architect, and philanthropist, Dr. Bernard Bradley Anderson, on January 2, 2014, ceremoniously escorted his body, bade farewell, and attended his final rites conducted on January 10, 2015, at Kuskuam, centuries-old Ethiopian Orthodox Church in Gondar city. His death marked the end of a much-accomplished life that went from one corner of the world to the other. He is survived by his wife Sr. Emawayish Gerima, and two sons.
Dr. Bernard died at the age of 70 due to natural causes, while taking medication, in his first home USA. Stately procession was held by dignitaries at the ministry level in Ethiopia, while his body arrived to Addis from the USA.
Similarly, the somber procession of Dr. Bernards farewell began a day before the actual funeral time, immediately after the arrival of his body to Gondar city, where his final rites was undertaken. It all began in the out skirts of the city, from University of Gondar’s Agriculture faculty campus, through almost all main streets of the city, back to his house which is situated around Azezo. Thousands of mourners lined the route, and dozens of vehicles escorted the dignified body of Dr. Bernard along the way, during both the first and second days of the procession. The ceremony was felt to mark the occasion appropriately, as there could be no one that has not been directly or indirectly touched by the humble and wholesome public services of the wise surgeon.
The dignitaries attended Dr. Bernard’s funeral on Saturday were numerous: Ato Getnet Amare, mayor of Gondar city, Professor Menesha Admassu, president of University of Gondar, Representatives of the Ethiopian surgeons’ association, Deans and Heads of different faculties, and units in University of Gondar were some.
Verses read, eulogies spoken on the account of Dr. Bernard’s personality, and his biography presented during the funeral service were fittingly reverent as many of his fans, colleagues and families agree.
Dr. Bernard Bradley Anderson was born in St. Catherine parish, Jamaica, and grew up in his family citrus farm. He began his schooling from prestigious and oldest Wolmer’s Boys’ School in the Caribbean.
In the early 60’s moved to the United States of America and joined School of Medicine at Howard University in Washington, D.C. After fully certified as a Surgeon, Dr. Anderson returned to Jamaica in the early ’70s to serve at Kingston Public Hospital, an institution that provided free medical care to the indigent and the underserved.
At the completion of his dedicated service at Kingston Public Hospital, he returned to the United States to serve at another institution located in an underserved community, the Former D.C. general hospital he held the prestigious position of chairman and director of surgery that complimented his excellent surgical and leadership skills.
From the time he was a very young man, he also aspired to one day go to and serve in Ethiopia, the land where humans originated and Marcus Garvey viewed as the “Promised Land”. His lifelong dream began to take shape and the prospect of travelling to Ethiopia was conceived thanks to a shared vision he had with his partner in life, Sister Emawaysh Gerima.
Dr. Anderson chose the historic town of Gondar in northern Ethiopia as his home away from home. Accordingly, this famed surgeon who could have affiliated himself with the most prestigious medical institutions anywhere joined the department of surgery in University of Gondar, College of Medicine and Health Sciences in 2004, following his retirement in the U.S.
Dr. Anderson holds patents to two inventions; Internal by-pass shunt apparatus for the inferior vena cava (Patent number: 6325776) alum and Method of using a dedicated internal shunt and stent for the inferior vena cava (Patent number: 6148825).
Besides, he got many prizes, awards, and recognitions from different institutions worldwide.: A prize from the district of Colombia in recognition of his visionary leadership of the department of surgery and for his outstanding performance as clinician and teacher, Diploma from the national board of medical examination of the USA, Lifetime and crystal awards from University of Gondar, Outstanding achievement award as resident at the department of surgery, from Freedmen’s Hospital, Specialty of surgery award from American board of surgery, Surgery chief residents 2000 award in appreciation for dedicated service and leadership, and the National honorary mathematics fraternity award he got in recognition of his superior achievement in the field of mathematics are some of the evidences for his being uniquely talented. However, this accomplishment only scratches the surface of Dr. Bernard’s ability and character.
In passing on his condolences, the mayor of Gondar city, Mr. Getnet Amare, said “the massive grief being observed on Gondar’s people is evident how much Dr. Bernard was a precious, beloved, and respected fellow who filled our wider gaps in the health service problem we have in the city”. Mr. Getnet added “Throughout the various occasions I came to learn that Dr. Bernard was a visionary, humanitarian, and a man of strong work-ethics. Thus, everyone of us is required to make him our role model” . Finally, Mr. Getnet proposed: “we are at the side of his families to realize his unfinished hospital. Here after, we all need to strive harder, so as to realize his unfinished dreams, and make his name be remembered forever by following his footsteps”.
Professor Mengesha Admassu, the president of University of Gondar in his part, witnessed : “ first of all, I would like to say that Dr. Bernard was not only a uniquely talented great professional but also the most extraordinarily humanistic person I ever know who would like to share the pain of others in every walk of life”. “He was so genuinely kind, and wonderful person, since our initial acquaintances when he join our University”. The numerous prestigious awards and prizes that he earned from different institutions, starting from his earliest days, and from his students every year are evident.. can speak out how far he was exceptionally genius and beloved”. It didn’t took him too much time for Dr. Bernard also to be the most beloved, dependable fellow by the people of Gondar, and his working community both professionally and socially for which he was regarded as emblem of real humanity. They were many considering him as the basis of their survival from their health problems. Since he joined the surgery medication and teaching departments, our university’s teaching hospital has got an unusual reputation and recognition both nationally and internationally, especially on surgical procedures like liver and pancreatic resections, adrenalectomies, vascular procedures and many others that we would not dare do alone. His mentorship in the area of surgery enabled us to have renowned surgeons in the area. Off course, these aforementioned accomplishments, I witnessed are meant only the scratches of the surface from what he contributed all the way through his life. Even though the Yearly award, named after his name in our university, has been part of the university’s recognition attempt for what he contributed. I would like to announce at this occasion that the University’s counsel decided to establish a foundation for his memorial hereafter. Besides, I would like to confirm to you, on behalf of the university that we will always be at the side of Dr. Bernard’s family to actualize the unfinished hospital he began privately. In short, I would like to witness that Dr. Bernard has a much-accomplished life, and we will always remember him for that. We have to learn a lot from his deeds,
Finally, Professor Mengesha concluded his speech by saying: “I would like to pass on my deepest sympathy and condolences to his bereaved family, the heavily grieved community of the University of Gondar, the people of Gondar city, and of the entire country. Pray God give you the strength to wither from your grief!”
Dr. Bernard’s funeral eulogy was concluded with the remark of his bereaved wife Sr. Emawayish. She responded to popular Condolences received earlier and her account on her husband as follows:
“I would like to thank every one of you: Gondar University’s community, the clergies of the church, his students and patients for sharing our grief throughout this extremely tragic occasion.
It took me a lot to bring Bernard’s body to this blessed country from abroad for this land and you, its people were his choices to live with and finally rest. He was a man of history who taught me what is meant to be an Ethiopian, an inventor, and scientist, though; he didn’t say much about himself publicly. He was uniquely kind to share the problem of others. I remember many instances, during which he transported different people facing problems even to the remotest corners of this district; while he was on his way to his work place. He was also an activist who even fought for the freedom of animals. He used to study and register the occasions that animals like donkey’s where beaten and harshly threatened by the country men. He was such a special man who even considerably changed my natural behavior and personality. Off course, I am really consoled much from my sorrow for what all of you are here did throughout this tragic occasion. I felt honored to be an Ethiopian and part of you, my fellow country men. Bernard was not working for a material reward, though he respectfully responds unusually to even the smallest of its kind. One morning a lady from the rural Ethiopia put ten Ethiopian birr on his hand for expressing her admiration to him in saving her life. He said to her “you have almost nothing to give it to me”. The lady insisted. That day he didn’t come home for lunch, rather went to a restaurant a have his launch paying his own added money on what the lady gave it to him. That was to thank and pay her respect in return.
I used to lead a special life coupled with such uniquely kind and polite man. Sometimes, I doubted him to be human as he had saint-like behavior. At this moment, Bernard is spiritually looking on what is going on here. What has been witnessed about him and done to us is enough. And the versed elegy presented by one of the priests was awesome. This funeral event really was like a theater for me, from which medical practitioners allover the world will learn a lot. Pray to god that he will help us for all this tributes and others untold about Bernard will be written, announced and by journalists, and will one day be documented and exhibited on books hereafter. Thank you all In the name of God for the respectful love and massive grief you showed us. I felt proud to be a Gondarian in particular, and an Ethiopian in general, because of what all of you actually did. I would like express my appreciation for what has been promised to us, even if I know Bernard deserves that. Though he worked tirelessly till the end of his life, he was fruitful as can be proved from the responses I observed from you, his colleagues, students, patients and the entire people of Gondar this day. I Pray, our almighty will give us the strength to wither from our sympathy. As to me, I will no more lament for I am psychologically compensated because of what I have seen and heard about Bernard. Thank you! ”
Lately on the same day, Saturday, January 10, 2015 Dr. Bernards body was buried at Kuskuam Church cemetery in Gondar city.
In this hour of massive grief we kindly convey our deepest sympathy to Dr. Bernard’s wife, children, family, colleagues, fans and the people of Gondar and pray the Almighty that his soul may rest in peace.
Public and International Relations Directorate office
University of Gondar