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03/24/2005

IN MEMORY OF CHEDDI JAGAN

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Dr Cheddi Jagan was convinced that with a coordinated international effort, poverty and hunger could be eradicated in our lifetime. Throughout his life Cheddi Jagan fought for the poor, marginalized, oppressed and suppressed peoples of Guyana and the world at large.

His proposals for a New Global Human Order are his legacy to the world.

Grandfather Cheddi was a devoted family man

Wednesday, March 23rd 2005

Tuesday, March 22nd, 2005 would have marked the 87th
birthday of a husband, a father of two, a grandfather
to five, a dentist and the most beloved son of our
nation of Guyana. This man is no other than the
Honourable Cheddi Berret Jagan of Port Mourant,
Berbice. Personally, as one of those five
grandchildren and as a voice for the remainder, I
declare that knowing him, talking to him, eating,
laughing and swimming with him, in sum, his mere
physical presence was the utmost privilege which shall
ever be afforded to us.

For the presence of Cheddi Jagan was in no way common,
instead somewhat uplifting in terms of the virtues of
the soul, by that I mean simply that his presence
alone was sufficient motivation to enrich one's
character, and knowledge. Philosophically, I compare
Cheddi Jagan's motives for accomplishments to Rene
Descartes, 'criterion,' in which Descartes abandons
that which is ordinary and commonplace to embrace a
sceptic view of doubt in order to form a firm
foundation of knowledge. The point to my contrast here
is that, like Descartes, my grandfather too, deserted
that which was simply trite and instead embarked on a
life long voyage of a persistent over achieving
mindset.

As a result, my grandfather's achievements
soared loftily above all expectations due to his
seemingly poverty stricken upbringing. Furthermore,
unbeknownst to most, was Cheddi Jagan's dedication,
not only to his nation and his people, but first and
foremost to his family. This dedication was so closely
embraced by him that I doubt any member of the Jagan
family would deny me the right to propose that any of
their success was directly due to his dedication to
them. What I am referring to at this point is that my
great-grandparents could only afford to send their
eldest son, my grandfather, to school in the US. Upon
his return as a graduated dentist, my grandfather was
responsible for funding the education of his younger
siblings to a large extent.

Morally, my grandfather was sound both in his
principles and his actions. Take for instance, two
things I clearly remember which exemplify this, - his
hatred for wasting food and for violence. I recall not
being allowed to leave the dinner table unless every
single morsel of food was consumed. My grandfather was
an avid opponent of violence as one can tell by
studying his political actions. Despite heavy rioting,
killings and other bully tactics by opposing parties,
my grandfather never once took up arms or preached
violence as a means to an end.

Consumed in non-violent tendencies to the point where
he never swayed, even though every Guyanese knew that
he was being deprived of votes at the elections for
many years.

It is in actions such as these that my grandfather
exhibited his chief quality, that being persistence. A
biography of his life would make this clear.

My grandfather was a dentist, an occupation which many
consider to be a source of wealth, yet he was unmoved
by the motivation of finances. He did without, wearing
shirt jacs instead of the usual suit attire of
politicians worldwide.

He had little or no currency on him when he wasn't at
home. I even remember a story my mom told me in which
he was given a gold Rolex watch as a present from
China, I believe, upon reception, my grandfather sold
this Rolex in order to give more money to his party,
the PPP. I can never disregard the persistence,
dedication and uniqueness of my grandfather,
for these qualities gave me the life I have today.

Grandpa I love you, happy birthday, you live on in
my heart and  my soul, I will keep my promise to you,
that is a guarantee.

Yours faithfully,

Cheddi Berret Jagan II

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Comments

JS,
I found this piece of letter very interesting for its emotional appeal. Is this written by Cheddi Jagan's son who also bears the name of his father whom I had the opportunity to interact with a couple fo times when I was in Guyana. The younger Jagan was interesting as he was intolerant of any criticism against his father and mother Cheedi and Janet Jagans.

I do agree that Cheddi Jagan is the most outstanding of politicians of Indian origin from Caribbean. His passionate writings about World politics during cold war era are brilliant and were honest in every sense of the word. Though the western and Caribbean and Indian left failed to give him due status such as Simon Bolivar or Fidel Castro or even Dr. Eric Williams, a number of Caribbean scholars do recognise and acknowledge his contribution.

Today if one revisits Jagan's writings and his political position with respect to developing secular politics in Guyana I must say that he is an enormous failure.

He failed on two accounts, unlike many of his leftist contemporaries.

He could not see through the designs of US and UK installing Burnham and thereby creating a racial division. His own or his family (mainly wife Janet Jagan's) interests for power overide the interests of the Guyanese public, particularly Indian communities, Hindus more importantly. He failed to see the emerging racial polarisation in Guyanese politics and played almost into the same hands of the African racists or their white masters, thereby endagered Indian interests.

It is fact that most of the educated Indians in Guyana chose to distance themselves from Jagan. His own political party still riding on the racially polarised politics is a major failure in addressing either Indian or African dilemma.

But all these failures does not mean that he was neither important nor mean. It would be interesting to look at the Jagan kind of politics from a new perspective.

Jagan's advocacy was of total integration of Indians and Africans racially to produce a hybrid people, which his wife Janet Jagan still believes is the only solution to Guyanese problems.

SKP

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