A true supermensch

Jay Mukoro – what an amazing student, what a lovely human being, what a glorious true friend in the fellowship and spirit of mankind, a true supermensch.

So this is now my 25th year at Goldsmiths, University of London in my capacity as a radio teacher. Jay came to Goldsmiths as a super-qualified and educated guy who wanted practice and confidence in the art of making good programmes.

The BBC had already earmarked him for a bursary and most flatteringly suggested he popped into New Cross as the right match of course provider.

He always seemed to have a genuine smile, and an understanding chuckle that appreciated that on occasion even the crooked of the world had something to say and appreciate.

As a student – what can I say? He was sublime, quality, committed and professional. All I had to do was not get in the way, but there was more to this. Jay always asked for what he needed with humility and commitment. He was a joy for any teacher or university lecturer.

So another MA for Jay was a foregone conclusion and truly deserved at distinction standard, but there was more to come.

He was a guy who wanted to put something back in. Could he mentor next year’s students and those who came afterwards? Would they like a copy of the course books? He didn’t even ask or seek a second-hand stipend.

Jay would return and give you a sense that being a radio tutor at Goldsmiths was more than thank you sir/maam it’s all over now and I’m on my way. Don’t call me I’ll call you.

“Hey Tim, fancy a coffee?” would be the message every summer. And I would sit back and listen to how he pursued his ambitions and opportunities, mentored by really good people at the BBC, producing the most amazingly impressive BBC national and World Service radio programmes, making innovative and enlightening multimedia features in Africa.

Another summer he said: “I think it would be interesting to cover the US presidential elections. Any advice or ideas?” I was the person flattered. Did I offer anything useful? It doesn’t matter. Jay asked and listened and I said something. The year the United States elected its first black president: now that is, let me just emphasise is, is and was, was history. Jay was there. He is a person who, to blend or morph the famous words of Barack Obama, can and could. Please just remember that, but think of it in an elegant, understated, non-ostentatious way. There was no shouting or yelling. In radio at Goldsmiths we are a sound medium.

In 2014 Jay came to us again and was the most brilliant and successful practice media teacher I have ever observed in Higher Education. I might be somebody over-prone to superlatives, but that side of the story can be told by the students he taught.

I want to remember summer 2008. Jay came to say hello again. I had been put in a lovely temporary office in a kind of garden situation at Goldsmiths … converted student accommodation with trees, grass and flowers outside … a railway line and train sounds. For some reason I had a small bottle of Rioja to share (probably donated by a long-suffering but grateful former student). Jay talked about assistant producing and directing in television documentary. He had been in the team for Andrew Marr’s very impressive series ‘History of Modern Britain.’ Jay was inspired, energised, full of ambition, experience and confidence. I remembered the sun streaming into the office, the mid summer bird song outside, and a glow of happiness on Jay’s face clearly expressing the very good dimensions of his personal and professional life.

“Take care, Tim” as he left to work on the next demanding and creatively fulfilling film and television documentary project.

Jay was a professional creative programme maker and human being par excellence. At Goldsmiths we’ve every reason to do our very best to remember him.

Tim Crook, Goldsmiths