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HomeNewsArchivesOn Island Profile: Thomas Miguel 'Keibo' Thomas

On Island Profile: Thomas Miguel 'Keibo' Thomas

June 19, 2005– Thomas Miguel "Keibo" Thomas today is a 14-year V.I. Legislature employee, the father of two successful musicians, and a committed partner to the boys' mother for the past 23 years. He also has his own distinct views on V.I. problems and its youth.
Thomas' life hasn't always been like this. For 17 years Thomas was homeless and was forced to make his living on the street. He used to sleep in the back seat of a green Cadillac at the old Four Winds auto lot.
"It was a really nice car," he laughs. But, he says, "I always kept myself clean. My mom would let me come to her house in the morning to wash up."
Thomas' mother kicked him out after he dropped out of Ivanna Eudora Kean High School in the 11th grade, when he told her he should be "treated like a man."
According to Thomas, "She said, all right, be a man, go!"
Today, Thomas and his mother, Eleanor Griffith, are "tight."
"She showed me tough love," he says. Griffith is actually Thomas' stepmother, but "she's my mom," he says.
Thomas was born in Puerto Rico, but Griffith, who had married Thomas' father, eventually brought the two-year-old to St. Thomas as her own son. His biological mother, who agreed to the arrangement, remained in Puerto Rico.
Thomas and his father are estranged. "I don't understand it, but that's it," he says.
Sitting in the early morning sun at a blue picnic table on the Legislature's back lawn, Thomas is more than willing to share a bit of his life. Thomas' night shift as a security guard has just ended, and he waves at and greets the Legislature employees as they show up for work.
Everyone returns his greeting with warm smiles. "They wish I were on daytimes," he says.
Thomas knows everybody in the Legislature, and when he steps out on the road in the morning, it looks like he knows everybody on the road.
Passing drivers hail him. "Hey, Keibo, how's it going, man?" Keibo is Thomas' pet name. "I love people, good people," Thomas says.
And he has had a lot of experience in determining who the "good" people really are.
Thomas says, "When I was growing up at Pearson Gardens, we used to play ball every weekend, and these Christian people would come over to preach to us. We'd scream 'Get out,' but they would come back the next weekend. They were persistent, and after about a month or two, we began to listen. We figured if they were this serious, maybe we should hear what they had to say. I don't even know if we understood it, but we listened."
This brings Thomas to one of his many points on what's wrong with life today. "You see," he says, "they came to us. That's important. Today they just set up a tent somewhere, and say, 'Come to me.' That's not how to do it."
He drifts back to his early years. "I got into bad things, but I had my nice ways. I was good at basketball –- I could have gotten into the NBA," he says.
Thomas continues, "I was a thief," he says, "and I didn't think it was wrong, then. I was making a living for my woman and for my family."
But, that "living" wound him up in jail more than once. "You don't come out of jail a changed man," Thomas says now. "The change is inside, not in the system."
Thomas' school years weren't all troubled. "I was the comedian at Wayne Aspinall," he says. (Aspinall is now Addelita Cancryn Junior High School.) "I gave myself the name 'Sad Sack' cause I loved that comic, and I had a big nose."
Around that time, Thomas began hearing some 'Rasta' vibes. "I decided to change my name then," he says, "and I took Yakeibo which means peace, love and happiness. Keibo is short for love."
Though Thomas sports long locks, he says he is not a follower of Rastafarianism. "I like Bob Marley," he says, "but I just got tired of combing my hair."
Thomas refers to his boys' mother, Jacqueline Pierre, time after time. He says, "God gave me the perfect woman."
"Jackie and I have no church of our own, but we observe the Sabbath on Saturday. God is inside; it's your actions," he says, which you are judged by.
Thomas, in his own way, is a deeply spiritual person.
His life changed one day out at Red Hook. "I had stolen something. It was money," he says. "Somebody saw me as I was walking out, and I got embarrassed. That had never happened to me before. Never. I turned around and put the money back in the drawer, and walked out, and I was feeling shame. Shame. I thought stealing was OK because I was supporting my wife and my family."
In Thomas' last experience with jail, he worked for five years at the Bovoni Landfill on work release. "I was the weigh master," he says. But, he didn't keep the job after he got out of jail because of conflicts with his boss.
"I am a very outspoken person," he says.
Then, one day in 1990, things changed.
"I had gone to Labor again, looking a job," he says. "They put us all into a room and said to do all this paperwork, and then we could go out looking. I got furious. They kept doing this to us."
He continues, "I stood up and made a scene. I told them I got kids at home, and they're hungry. I want a job and right now. I was going on real bad."
"Then, this white woman came into the room and motioned to me to come with her," he says. "She sat me down and told me she knew just how I felt. She said we would find a job before the day was over, and she started making phone calls. I couldn't believe it. She said there was an opening at the Legislature."
So, Phyllis Walcott, a Labor Department officer, took Thomas to then Sen. Bingley Richardson's office.
"He couldn't see us right then," Thomas said, "so we sat and waited for two hours, and he hired me as his youth coordinator."
Thomas said he organized school programs under Richardson's office and was his campaign coordinator in his next campaign.
After Richardson left the Legislature, Thomas was hired as a security guard.
One subject Thomas has been chomping at the bit to get to is his "boys" – Timothy, 22, and Theron, 23 — the two sons he has with Jackie.
"The boys have been musicians since four and five years old," Thomas says.
Thomas and Jackie exposed the youngsters to music "from early," Thomas says.
"Jackie and I are musically inclined, we loved to dance, and they listen to us and dance. We took them to hear the Crisscross rap group, and they loved that. We got into every concert from the time they were five to eight years. The audience would watch them dance. The hiphop star Busta Rhymes called them up onstage at Lionel Roberts stadium.
"I pushed them," Thomas says. "I was their manager. We went to Jamaica to perform when they were just eight and nine years, and we went on a world tour."
Thomas has been careful with his sons to teach them his values.
"I always taught them that Jesus is in everybody. It will tell in your actions," he says. "We are all Jesus in disguise," he says. "I tell them the first impression is the last impression. I use psychology, and when you look at the kids, it works. Your job as a parent, is to see they don't go the wrong way … don't leave them to do what they want."
The boys graduated from Charlotte Amalie High School in 2000 and are well known among the island's younger people.
"They perform for free on the island," Thomas says. "They preach 'Stop the Violence – Keep the Peace.'"
Theron and Timothy have gained national recognition as rappers, 2EKwhip.
"Two is
them, E is for excellent, W is with, H is hype, I is intelligence and P is personality," Thomas explains.
They now live in Atlanta, where they are recording stars. Though, that has had its up and downs, Thomas says. "One time they had to sleep in the studio."
Thomas says he has gone on tour with the boys, but it gets to him. "We were performing onstage in Tampa," he says," and I got exhausted. I had to turn my back to the audience. I just couldn't keep up."
The boys have now changed their name to RockCity.
After their first CD, It's Official, the boys recorded Wha?RockCity, which sold 10,000 copies. (Click herefor a complete bio on the two musicians.
Now there is another light in Thomas' life, his first grandchild. Whenever it comes to family, Thomas' big grin shines.
"A granddaughter," he says. "She's five month old, Cameron Simone Fabris Thomas, Theron's daughter … I just love that baby to death."
Thomas has lots of ideas about "his Virgin Islands."
"The first thing is children. The important part of growing up is knowledge and love," he says. "My mom taught me how to love."
And he has singular views on politics. He says, "They should elect senators for six months and then grade them like they do regular employees. Then, if you don't produce, you're out."
He adds, "The other thing is all this blaming, all the government people and the senators are always blaming things on each other. They have to stop that and move ahead."
Suddenly, he says, "Oh oh," and pulls his cell phone out of his pocket and begins to dial home. "I've got to wake up Jackie, I'm her alarm."
"Good morning," Thomas says into the phone, "I got a bone to pick with you – I just love you to death."

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