‘And in remembering … follow’

Members of the Guyanese Diaspora remember Guyana freedom fighter Dr. Cheddi Jagan. Gerald V. Paul photo.
Members of the Guyanese Diaspora remember Guyana freedom fighter Dr. Cheddi Jagan. Gerald V. Paul photo.

“On the lips of every loyal Guyanese of every race and in the hearts of the oppressed, this name (Cheddi Jagan) has become the banner behind which tramp the revolutionary masses of our country to battle and Victory!

Eusi Kwayana (Sidney King) penned that forward in 1952 to Dr. Cheddi Jagan’s pamphlet Fight for Freedom.

Dearly Beloved Eyesers, at the launch of freedom fighter Jagan’s book The New Global Human Order, the UN Development Program (UNDP), the focus was “putting people first.”

That focus on people must return to the centre of decision-making – the interests of the people must be put above profits. Reopen the question in every generation.

According to Dr. Odeen Ishmael, while the masses make the history of a country, certain individual leaders determine the progressive direction that the nation must follow.

So, as the Eyes Guy is witnessing a “white-wash” (a special painting during the holiday season) to the nation of Guyana by the new administration, as the Disapora, it is incumbent on us to do the right thing.

Truth to power. Without fear or favour!

And in keeping with the theme? “It is the supreme test of man’s character to overcome the trials of adversity and disaster,” said Jagan. “The former president of Guyana understood only too well, for his life was a compelling statement of struggle, first as a child, then as a student, as a nationalist, and finally as the esteemed elder statesman,” Dr. James Rose noted.

He added that nation building, we now know, is a never-ending series of difficult tasks, each seemingly more complex than the one just completed.

Rose revealed that in the hostile environment in which the natural progression of his country was first frustrated and subsequently truncated by the Anglo-American Alliance, Jagan – honoured with South Africa’s O.R. Tambo Award – endured absolute despair yet he was forever optimistic, prophetically reminding us that “history and time are on our side.”

Rose said that the name Cheddi Jagan evokes a man who is resolute, committed, honest and compassionate. Then there is the reflective scholar, forever thinking, analyzing, discussing and writing. There is also the nationalist firebrand, ever championing the cause of the anti-colonial struggle and national liberation. There was the compassionate internationalist stridently advocating the cause of the dispossessed, the world over.

Ah! The nationalist politician truly believed in national unity as the primary means of attaining peace, progress and prosperity and he never stopped searching for ways and means of molding the classes and races into a strong united nation.

“On careful reflection it can be said that the political career of Dr. Jagan spanned three distinct periods,” Rose said.

First was from the 1940’s to 1964 when he was the fearless anti-colonial firebrand, nationalist and liberator.

Next, the period between 1964 and 1992 when he struggled against the notorious tyranny of the PNC dictatorship, attempting time and again to form truly broad-based opposition against the precursor of all forms of democratic manifestations at home.

Finally, the all too brief post-1992 period when having triumphed over the mindless tyranny of the PNC, he began the process of community healing and national reconstruction.

Backstory? In October 1943 Jagan returned to his homeland and almost immediately gravitated into local politics. He became increasingly interested in trade union activities and also in the roles and functions of organizations like the League of Coloured Peoples. (Google Jagan in Guyana.)

Fast Forward: “It is a sad but necessary commentary that with his passing, this nation has been plunged into the abyss of racial suspicion, ethnic rancor and civil unrest. Today this nation seems more divided that ever before and ethnic separation has acquired an almost favourable currency,” Rose lamented.

He suggests the critical issue therefore must be the continuing quest for national unity.

“Certainly if we are convinced Dr. Jagan deserves our adulation, and I am convinced that he does, then certainly we owe it to his memory to redouble our efforts to ensure that national unity enjoys the type of priority he would have preferred.”

And since freedom is not free? A Luta Continua!