Condolences for Janet Jagan
POLITICAL parties shed their sharp differences to join in saluting the monumental contributions of former President Janet Jagan to the liberation and development of Guyana.
Mrs. Jagan, 88, died at the Georgetown Hospital in the early morning of March 28, 2009 after she was admitted there early Friday afternoon suffering from abdominal pains, officials said.
President Bharrat Jagdeo cut short an official two-week visit to the Middle East as preparations are underway for her cremation at Babu John, Port Mourant on the Corentyne, in Berbice.
The cremation took place Tuesday March 31, 2009 at the site where Dr. Cheddi Jagan, her husband, former President and co-founder of the governing People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) was cremated after his death on March 6, 1997.
Official Statement On the Passing of Former President of Guyana, Mrs. Janet Jagan, OE
THE Government of Guyana officially announces the passing of Former Executive President of Guyana, Mrs. Janet Jagan, OE, who died this morning at the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation (GPHC) after a brief illness. Mrs. Jagan was 88 years old at the time of her death. Mrs. Jagan, nee Rosenberg, was born on October 20, 1920 in Chicago. She married Dr Cheddi Jagan and adopted Guyana as her home from 1943.
She was sworn in as Guyana’s first female President of the Republic on December 18, 1997 and served until 1999.
The nation has been deprived of one of its greatest citizens who exhibited strength, courage, humility, and commitment to the development of Guyana.
Her selfless and dedicated service to Guyana was rendered during her long, varied and honourable career in public life over six decades. She was the co-founder of the PPP, and also among the first female Members of Parliament, the first female Deputy Speaker, the first female Minister, and the first Minister of Labour, Health and Housing and Home Affairs. She was also Guyana’s first female Prime Minister.
Mrs. Jagan struggled alongside her life-long partner and husband, the late President, Dr Cheddi Jagan, against colonialism, and fought for peace, democracy and justice both in Guyana and globally. Through her determination, she worked tirelessly to enhance the lives of all Guyanese, especially poor women and children.
She received the country’s highest honour, the Order of Excellence (OE), and the Ghandi Gold Medal for peace, democracy and women’s rights.
Mrs. Jagan was a modest and simple woman, who carried herself with great dignity and integrity.
The Office of the President extends condolence to her children, Nadira Jagan-Brancier and Cheddi Jagan Jr; her grandchildren; all her relatives and friends; and members of the PPP at this time of grief.
Mrs. Jagan will be given a State Funeral, the details of which will be announced later.
March 28, 2009.
PPP - We will certainly miss her
PPP/C General Secretary, Mr. Donald Ramotar said her contributions to the Party and the nation have been monumental, and she stood at every important juncture in Guyana’s history from 1943.
Ramotar said she was not only a politician and stateswoman par excellence, but also a journalist of the highest standard.
Ramotar said Mrs. Jagan was the Editor of the Party’s organ, ‘Thunder’, until the time of her death, and completed the first issue for this year the day before she died.
“We will certainly miss her, particularly those of us who benefited from her kindness, advice and generosity and the party itself will always remain a monument to her struggle,” he told the Sunday Chronicle.
Health Minister, Dr Leslie Ramsammy noted that Mrs. Jagan served this country for 66 years, up to the time of her death.
“Her contribution has been invaluable. Guyana has lost an asset in the pride and inspiration she provided…her life story and her work will inspire generations for long; her contribution is indispensable,” he said.
Mr. Cyril Belgrave, longtime PPP member, who is also on the Party’s Central Committee and is a former Parliamentarian, said she was a political mentor and like a mother to him.
He, too, recalled that she was always ready and willing to help others, adding that her contributions to Guyana are enormous, including uplifting the conditions of work and pay for women domestic workers, who at one time were grossly exploited.
“She was always representing a cause, and she worked very hard to liberate Guyanese,” Belgrave said.
WPO - LIKE AN INSTITUTION
Mrs. Indra Chandarpal, head of the PPP/C’s women’s arm, the Women’s ProgressiveOrganisation (WPO) which Mrs. Jagan co-founded, said she was like an institution.
“Although she was not feeling too well of late, we thought she was going to be around for much longer because she comes from a family of longevity,” she said.
“Hers was a life of service, dedication, commitment, sacrifice, personal morality and integrity. She was very humane and she never hesitated to make herself available for the ordinary people, the downtrodden…she saw people at Freedom House (PPP/C headquarters) and she many times went into her purse to help those who came seeking assistance.
“Politically, she was very astute and strong, and some of us remember when she was on the Elections Commission for the rigged 1973 elections, that she was on the radio and very strongly and forcefully spoke out for the ballot boxes (that had been seized by the Army) to be returned to the polling stations,” Chandarpal recalled.
She added that Mrs. Jagan was fearless, and used her pen very effectively in response to political, social, women’s and other issues. She also found time to be at bottom-house meetings talking to women and others.
“The women in the WPO have lost a leader and a visionary, but we are comforted by the fact that as a result of her inspiration, there are many who will be her torch bearers. She has left us a proud legacy and what she stood and fought for will be emulated.
“In all the important moments of my life, she was there and she remembered people’s birthdays, wedding anniversaries and other events…”
U.S. Embassy - very saddened at her death
“As a principal figure in Guyana ’s successful struggle for independence, she embodied the fight for the right of people to choose their own destiny,” the embassy said.
“Born just two months after the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution first guaranteed women the right to vote in the United States, President Jagan was herself -- both through words and deeds -- a staunch advocate of the rights and role of women in society, politics, and government. Her lifelong commitment to this cause had a demonstrable impact on the lives of countless women in Guyana and throughout the world.
“The entire staff of the U.S. Embassy in Georgetown expresses its condolences to the Jagan family, and to a mourning nation,” the statement read.
PASSING OF AN ERA - PNCR
The main Opposition People’s National Congress Reform (PNC/R) extended condolences to the family and the PPP/C, and paid tribute to her important role in shaping the early political culture of the nation.
Mrs. Jagan helped to push the issue of women rights and liberation to the top of the national agenda and was a fighter for Independence, it said.
The PNCR added that her death represents the passing of an era, and that as a journalist, she was known for her hard-hitting articles, even opposing her own Party when the government last year withdrew placing State advertisements in the privately-owned Stabroek News.
“Mrs. Jagan made an important contribution to our national development (and) was also known for her interest in literary and artistic matters. She wrote several books for children,” the PNCR said, adding:
“This interest ensured that she played a part in the development of Castellani House, as a focal point for the artistic endeavours of our citizens. Equally, it is well known that Mrs. Jagan had an abiding interest in the collection of documents, manuscripts and photographs relevant to the history of Guyana.”
Alliance For Change (AFC)
Said Mrs. Jagan will be remembered as the woman who rose to the highest peaks of public life in Guyana through grit and determination.
“For her political activism, she gained a reputation as a strong and fearless leader; never being deterred by her detractors and opponents, and by the controversy which shrouded her life. Though arriving in Guyana as the foreign wife of Dr. Cheddi Jagan, she embraced all things Guyanese and left an indelible mark on this nation,” the AFC said, adding:
“It is regretful that genuine healing and reconciliation did not come between her and many who she was at odds with up to the time of her passing. With her death, another chapter of Guyana’s history has closed without it being properly ended.
“The AFC urges all those who have been a part of the political and social construct of Guyana in its formative years especially, since political independence was attained in 1966, to use the occasion of her passing to recommit to healing and reconciliation.”
“By our actions,” it suggested, “we must set the example that in Guyana there is no place for intolerance, bigotry and hatred and that a beautiful dawn awaits us if we begin to work together with mutual respect and appreciation for each other as true patriots.”
Essequibians join in mourning
ESSEQUIBIANS are among Guyanese mourning the death yesterday of former President Janet Jagan, and a fair organised in Region Two by the governing People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPPC) has been cancelled, officials said.
Regional Chairman, Mr. Alli Baksh, noted that Mrs. Jagan was a PPP stalwart who worked hard and tirelessly alongside her husband Dr. Cheddi Jagan to develop Guyana and bring happiness and betterment to every Guyanese. Baksh said she was deeply loved by Essequibians and was fondly called ‘Bhowjee Janet’ by women in the region.
Ms. Portia Jacobs, an employee of the Regional Democratic Council (RDC), said news of Mrs. Jagan’s death has shocked her. She said it brings back memories of the death of Dr. Jagan which extended nation-wide mourning. She said Mrs. Jagan was a mother to all Guyanese and she is sad because another leader has gone.
Mr. Harry Bacchus, 88, of Walton Hall, said he too was saddened at the death of Mrs. Jagan. He said he has many pictures of her from old newspapers, adding that she was very beautiful when she came to Guyana in the forties. He noted that she worked hard with Cheddi to build this county and will be missed.
Security guard, Mrs. Patricia Ward of Anna Regina Housing Scheme said Guyana has lost a good lady with great leadership qualities. Mrs. Ward said the death of Mrs. Jagan has made her sad. She said she’d met her twice, once in Canada and another time at Charity on the Essequibo Coast.
Rice farmer Mr. Gowkarran of Anna Regina said the death of Mrs. Jagan has cast a blanket of sadness over Essequibo. He said Guyana has lost a great woman and leader. For him, Mrs. Jagan worked all her life for every Guyanese, and she will be missed.
Market vendor, Maxwell Bridgemohan of Queens Village said Guyana has lost a good leader. Mr. Bridgemohan said he met her at a public meeting some years ago while she was President, and her policies were always good and encouraging, and that she worked to eradicate poverty so that the lives of Guyanese can be elevated.
Another vendor at the Anna Regina market, Mrs. Sukdai Singh, said Mrs. Jagan was always a good person who listened to people. She said anyone could have spoken to her anywhere, and she was approachable. Mrs. Singh said Mrs. Jagan worked hard and was a leader with visions for the development of this country.
A housewife from Walton Hall, Mrs. Janetta Lall, said Mrs. Jagan was a woman of quality who worked with her husband to build and develop Guyana. She said she will also be remembered as a great writer who wrote several children’s books. She said her contributions to the development of Guyana will always be remembered.
‘Fireball’ remembers Janet
MEMBER of the Central Executive of the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C), Mrs. Philomena Sahoye, yesterday expressed deep sadness over the death of former President and former First Lady of Guyana -- Mrs. Janet Jagan, adding that no one can deny that she was “the mother of this nation.”
Deeming Mrs. Jagan a passionate freedom fighter and an ardent advocate for women’s rights, Mrs. Sahoye spoke of her involvement in the many protests and strikes in the sugar industry, eventually leading to her imprisonment in the sixties.
Mrs. Sahoye, who was also deeply involved in the struggles against the ills of colonialism, and championing the cause of the working class in British Guiana, was herself imprisoned by the colonial police in an attempt to “muzzle her” in the pre-Independence era in the sixties. She was fondly nicknamed ‘Fireball’ for her determined struggles.
“In fact, as I recall, we shared the same cell at the New Amsterdam Prisons. We later made a joke of it and called it our Alma Mater,” Sahoye related yesterday. She recalled that Mrs. Jagan was imprisoned for about two to three months, while she (Sahoye) served about four to five months.
They were thrown into the lockups without being charged, and a good while later, Sahoye, who was at the time General Secretary of the Guiana Agricultural Workers’ Union (GAWU), was told that she was there for sedition.
Mrs. Sahoye recalled that it was Mrs. Jagan who resolutely championed the cause of women, at a time when women were marginalized or literally ‘domesticated’, and the dominant view reverberated by the opposite sex was that “a woman’s place is in the home.”
Mobilising women, she did all she could to prove the men wrong, and that women were capable of becoming breadwinners, commanding jobs and assuming positions of respect in society.
Mrs. Jagan caused women employed as domestics and paid paltry wages in the pre-Independence era, to be given days off on public holidays. During those days domestic help had to work all holidays, forcing wives and mothers away from their families on holidays such as Christmas Day.
Against the many struggles, her proven resilience and uncanny ability to come out victorious in representing the interests of the masses of the people in this place she chose to make her home, it is evident that Mrs. Jagan stood out as a champion, Mrs. Sahoye said.
With pain in her voice, she eulogized: “It is indeed a sad day for Guyana, and Mrs. Jagan will be greatly missed. This wonderful woman loved Guyana and Guyanese, or she would not have remained here and dedicate her life to Guyana when she had a comfortable place in the United States of America.”
“She was my friend; a very dear friend and we always remembered each other’s birthday. Such was the relationship we had.”
Jagan made indelible contribution over 65 years – IAC
By Stabroek staff | April 1, 2009 in Local News
The Indian Arrival Committee (IAC) says the late former president Janet Jagan made a monumental and indelible contribution to Guyana over 65 years.
The IAC hailed Mrs Jagan’s contribution to government and politics, her input in journalism, women’s rights and in arts, culture, history and literature. In a press release the group said too her work ethic and discipline, particularly during the fight for national independence and as co-founder of the PAC, PPP and the WPEO (now WPO) is to be commended.
Additionally, the IAC lauded Mrs Jagan as a leading light in the movement for women’s rights, as a minister of government, prime minister and as president from 1997-1999. The group said she "possessed great ideological clarity and depth, remained steadfast, unwavering and consistent in her beliefs, convictions and positions."
Mrs Jagan was the architect of the women’s rights movement – Guywid
By Stabroek staff | March 31, 2009 in Local News
Guyanese Women in Development (Guywid) said late former president Mrs Janet Jagan "laid the foundation and provided the vision for the women’s rights movement in Guyana" as it mourns her passing.
In a press release the group said it remembers too Mrs Jagan’s "distinguished and selfless contribution towards the betterment of our country, our people and especially our women." Together with her husband, the late president Dr Cheddi Jagan, she withstood many adversaries, challenged the colonial regime and blazed the trail in the struggle for political independence and working class unity.
The release said too as a leader and a journalist Mrs Jagan unwaveringly joined with others in the battle against rigged elections and for the restoration of democracy in Guyana. Since her entry into politics the late former president had been an advocate for and encouraged women to educate themselves and their children, particularly their daughters. She led the way both through her spoken works and by her actions, and became a symbol of what women could achieve of they are committed and hardworking, the release said.
Guywid said Guyanese women have been and will continue to be inspired by Mrs Jagan’s unflinching dedication, integrity and sense of purpose for she has left an indelible imprint on their lives. It said too it considers the most fitting tribute to her to be a commitment to strengthening democracy; to ensuring the poor and vulnerable benefit from labour and to empowering women to take on the helm of decision making in the society.
Guywid extends deepest sympathies to Mrs Jagan’s children and relatives.
Mrs Jagan had great courage and resilience – Dharmic Sabha
By Stabroek staff | March 31, 2009 in Local News
In paying tribute to the late former President Janet Jagan the Guyana Hindu Dharmic Sabha described her as a woman of great "courage and resilience which was demonstrated throughout her life in all her endeavours."
In a press release the Sahba expressed condolences to her children and relatives and the People’s Progressive Party (PPP) on the passing of Mrs Jagan.
According to the Sabha Mrs Jagan was never one to succumb and fought valiantly for whatever cause she espoused and she believed and supported the cause of the downtrodden and oppressed and at all times identified with ordinary folk in their pursuits for better life.
Mrs Jagan, the Shaba said, showed a keen interest in the development of women and was settled on the principle that women were entitled as of right to equal status as men and ought to be so treated.
"She formed the Women’s Progressive Organization, through which she worked assiduously for the upliftment of women affording them the exposure and opportunities for self improvement thereby making a contribution to their communities and country," the release said. Mrs Jagan also had close to her heart the causes of children particularly in education and she has authored many children’s books.
And as a journalist Mrs Jagan was disciplined and for more than forty years edited the Thunder and Mirror newspaper and she unequivocally subscribed to freed of the press.
She will be remembered for her selfless dedication and struggle for the betterment of Guyana, a country which she adopted as her own.
Mrs Jagan ‘lived for her people’ – Carrington
By Stabroek staff | April 4, 2009 in Local News
Caricom Secretary-General Edwin Carrington has hailed the contributions of late former president Janet Jagan to Guyana, saying hers was "truly a life lived for her people" in a message of condolence.
Although Jagan was born in the USA she devoted her life to the development of the Guyanese culture and people, particularly the women. In pursuit of that goal she co-founded the People’s Progressive Party, along with her late husband Dr Cheddi Jagan, himself a former President of Guyana, the release said. The Secretary-General also said Jagan, "served her country in tumultuous times and displayed a fortitude and uncompromising commitment to her ideals which ensured she maintained her focus through the most difficult of circumstances."
Through the party Jagan "waged a tireless struggle to improve the lives of Guyanese," a struggle which earned her the nation’s highest award, the Order of Excellence in 1995 and its highest office, the presidency, in 1997.
Carrington also lauded Jagan’s "abiding love for journalism" which she demonstrated through her editing of the party paper the Mirror and even more so after demitting office.
He noted too that Jagan was a devoted mother of two children and a grandmother as well as a devoted wife to her late husband. Her invaluable contribution to Guyana will long be remembered. Carrington extended condolences to Jagan’s family, the government and citizens on behalf of the Community and the Secretariat.
OAS pays tribute to Mrs Jagan
By Stabroek staff | April 2, 2009 in Local News
The Permanent Council of the Organization of American States (OAS) yesterday expressed its condolences to the people and Government of Guyana on the death of former President Mrs. Janet Jagan.
"Ms. Jagan played a relevant role (in) the development of Guyana and received several distinctions, among them the Order of Excellence (the highest national award in Guyana) and the Gandhi Gold Medal … In 1997 she made history by becoming the first woman President of Guyana", said President of the Permanent Council and Ambassador of Canada to the OAS, Graeme Clark.
An OAS press release said too that the Permanent Representatives of the 34 Member States of the OAS observed a minute of silence as a tribute to Mrs Jagan, who was Guyana’s president from 1997 to 1999. General Secretary of the Organization, Jose Miguel Insulza, highlighted Mrs. Jagan’s important role in the democratic development of Guyana and stressed the fact that she was the first woman in South America to be elected to the highest office in her country.
GCA JOINS WITH GUYANESE RELIGOUS & SOCIAL
ORGANIZATIONS IN CELEBRATING
THE LIFE OF THE HON. JANET JAGAN
A Tribute from the Guyana Cultural Association of New York, Inc.
Read at the Remembrance Service at the Arya Spiritual Center, Queens, New York by Malcolm Hall, President, Guyana Cultural Association of New York, Inc.
Sunday, March 29, 2009
President Janet Jagan, or "Comrade Janet," as she was affectionately called, never wavered in her belief in the role that the creative arts had to play in the creation and building of the modern Guyanese nation. She dedicated every day of her life to this cause during the sixty-five years she lived in Guyana.
As we celebrate her life today, the Guyana Cultural Association of New York, Inc., the organizers of the annual Guyana Folk Festival, is proud to reflect upon a small but significant portion of her inspiring body of work in support of the creative arts in Guyana.
• President Janet Jagan recognized the importance of the printed word. She served with distinction as the Editor of the Thunder and the Mirror—two outstanding examples of activist journalism in Guyana. For historians, social scientists, and generations to come, those publications will always be important sources of Guyanese history.
• We must not forget that "Comrade Janet" was also a writer of children’s books. In works such as "When Grandpa Cheddi was a Boy", "Children's Stories of Guyana's Freedom Struggles" and "Alligator Ferry Service" she drew effortlessly upon Guyana’s multi-racial heritage to tell inspiring and motivating stories.
• President Jagan was an ardent supporter of dance in Guyana. She was a silent supporter of the pioneering work in dance by her good friend Helen Taitt. Even before there was a National School of Dance or a National Dance Company, Comrade Janet encouraged Helen Taitt to explore and celebrate Guyana’s entire dance traditions including, Ballet, Katha, Nagara, Cumfa, Kwe Kwe, and Mari Mari.
• President Janet Jagan loved music and encouraged its development. She was proud20of the collection of music she and her husband shared. She loved Paul Robeson and Nat Cole as she loved Brahms and the calypsonians such as "32" who lived near to Freedom House. She encouraged steel band in Guyana and is said to have played a role in sending the first Guyanese steel band to Cuba. She also played a personal role in helping Alan Bush to compose "The Sugar Reapers"--the first full-length opera on the Guyanese working-class struggles of the 1950s. The opera was premiered in December 1966 in Leipzig, East Germany.
• President Jagan supported the visual arts. Again, her support was not loud and full of self-serving bombast. It was quiet and focused. We must recognize on this day the role she played in housing Guyana’s National Art Collection in Castellani House and placing it under the supervision of the Office of the President.
• President Janet Jagan recognized the importance of research, the preservation of historical documents, and making those documents accessible. This orientation is evident in the work she and her daughter Nadira did in creating the Cheddi Jagan Research Center in Georgetown.
In the words of her friend Martin Carter, she "did not sleep to dream, but dreamt to change the world"—and she achieved that in Guyana. Thank you Comrade Janet! Like you, the Guyana Cultural Association of New York Inc; is committed to Preserving, Promoting, and Propagating Guyana’s creativity.
Mrs. Jagan should be judged by her achievements
by NEIL ADAMS
AS I stepped into Freedom House my words to the official there was, "she whom I seek is not here" and then the tears began to flow. I make mention of Mrs. Janet Jagan my friend, my mentor and a great Icon. Even as I pen this letter the tears still flow because I know I have lost a good friend and Guyana is all the poorer at her loss. There is so much to be spoken of this great lady that it will fill volumes, but I shall only curtail my discourse to a few.
There are two Caribbean leaders who will remain engraved in my mind and these are Sir John Compton and Dr Cheddi Jagan and by extension his wife Mrs. Janet Jagan. Their life long energies were centred on the development of their nation's peoples, all the people, which make them stand out towering above the rest of the lot of that era. I was privileged to have met Mrs. Jagan when she became Guyana's President in 1997(a photograph of myself and this good lady is in their family home) and ever since that time I would write letters to her and hold discussions with her sharing my thoughts on many developmental matters for my country, in fact, there was a scheduled meeting for the very same week that she died but as fate would have it she has passed to the great beyond.
She instituted labour laws which helped to stop the exploitation of domestic workers and ensured that they got a fair day's pay. Under her watch the housing schemes that are in East La Penitence and West Ruimveldt were built. During her short stint as President, Sophia and other squatting areas were transformed into thriving settlements thanks to a kind and caring lady. Some of her detractors would like us to forget these achievements but they are there etched on the landscape for all to see. Mark well the travails of the Sophia squatters, who were raided off the land like animals by Desmond Hoyte, using police dogs. She came and changed all of this. On behalf of Guyana I say thanks Mrs. Jagan. So when those in the opposition try to demonise her they must first judge her by her works which has that touch of excellence which no one can take away from her.
I was reliably informed that the PNC and their acolyte TV stations gave hours of broadcast coverage of the tossing of the court order by Mrs. Jagan at a time when they should have been showing her achievements.
Let me first express my handling of this matter, I would have bundled the order together then played a little game of football with it. I say Mrs. Jagan was very modest about it I would not have been. You see Justice Desiree Bernard was very ignorant of the law and very much out of place, Mrs. Jagan did not make herself President of Guyana she was elected by the people and at that stage of the proceedings she was asked to form the next government which was her legitimate right, not a privilege. Justice Barnard should have served the Elections Commission with that order if there was cause for doubt in the process leading up to the declaration of a winner, but not to stop the swearing in ceremony. Yet in all of this Mrs. Jagan was humble enough to have signed the order making then Chief Justice Desiree Bernard Chancellor of the Judiciary
Jagan was passionate about politics and the arts - Dabydeen
By Stabroek staff | April 5, 2009 in Local News
Professor David Dabydeen recalls late former president Janet Jagan an engaging woman with a passion for politics and a love of the arts, in a tribute to her.
In a press release, Dabydeen said he met Jagan in November 1992 through her husband the late Dr Cheddi Jagan who had just been elected president. He said over the years they maintained a close friendship and "she became a friend, indeed like a mother to me."
Dabydeen said during their many conversations on their shared love of the arts, Jagan had expressed an appreciation for Chekhov. She also spoke of Guyanese and Caribbean writers Martin Carter, Jan Carew, Wilson Harris, VS Naipaul and Derek Walcott and others she engaged with since the 1940s. "It was my privilege to listen to her talking about her meetings with Edna Manley, Phyllis Allfrey and other pioneers of Caribbean creativity," he said, adding that her support of the arts was fierce.
This later led to the efforts she made for Castellani House to become the location of the National Gallery of Art and her work there as a board member.
Dabydeen said too he "had a huge admiration for her passion for books and paintings," noting that Jagan had also authored several books of children’s short stories and had edited an anthology of Guyanese writing. "Janet Jagan believed that the reconstruction of Guyana was bound up not only with political reform but with a literary, artistic and intellectual renaissance. As such she was a politician of vision," he said. "[B]ut for now I wish to remember, with profound gratitude, the insights she gave me into the unfolding of West Indian literature from the 1940s, and the inspiration she provided for my own writing," the professor said.
Added to that, Dabydeen said to him she was not a sombre matriarch, "for over the years there was much shared laughter, gossip and irreverence, and the odd cigarette and glass of Baileys." He said as much as she loved politics and books her life was abundant.
Mrs Jagan made possible trips to Cuba to restore my eyesight
By Stabroek staff | April 3, 2009 in Letters
I am deeply saddened at the passing of Mrs Janet Jagan and my sympathy goes out to her family and friends.
I met Mrs Jagan on many occasions when my father David Westmaas took me to Freedom House. I would drift in and out of various offices in Freedom House. I remember her saying to me once, "Hello and how are you," and I scampered back to dad’s office.
I would have liked to say thanks to Mrs Jagan most of all for giving me the chance of going to Cuba to get my eyesight back. A knife had by accident cut me in my right eye back in 1978. Mrs Jagan was instrumental in facilitating two operations and constant trips back and forth. I remember my father saying that one day I will have to say thanks to Mrs Janet Jagan. Unfortunately, I will not be able to thank her now directly, but do so through this medium. I do hope her soul rests in peace.
Tribute from the United Force - Janet Jagan was ‘no ordinary woman’
THE Executive and members of the United Force has extended deepest sympathy to the children, relatives, friends and the People’s Progressive Party (PPP) on the passing of Mrs. Janet Jagan, former President of Guyana.
‘Although this is a sad occasion, we are so very proud to salute one of the most powerful and genuine freedom fighter who had our nation’s interests at heart to the very end of her life and who has now gone to rest’ – the United Force
“The passing of a life affects people differently, this being so because of the types of relationships formed during the lifetime of that person,” the United Force said in a statement.
“Our former President was many things to us here in Guyana. She was a wife, a nurse, a mother, a Trade Unionist, a Politician, a women’s rights advocate, a Minister in the Government, the President of our country -- if only for a short while, a journalist, author of children’s books to name a few, and she was also a friend.”
“Strange as it may sound, she was also a friend to those who did not think of her as a friend,” the party stated.
“She was their friend because she lived a life of service to the people of Guyana, her adopted country, always seeking and pushing for betterment for this country and its peoples,” the United Force asserted.
The party also noted that the decision Mrs. Jagan made so long ago, to stand beside her husband and make his dreams hers as well shows great strength of character, loyalty and compassion for her fellow humans.
“Not everyone has the courage to change things for the better on a grand scale; mostly people look to take care of themselves and family, donate to a needy cause and are content with their lives. We are so very lucky that Mrs. Janet Jagan was not that kind of woman and today we are better off as a nation because of who she was. Indeed she was a leader and no ordinary one.”
“Her outspokenness and battles for various rights she felt that we ought to have are legendary, her brilliance as a politician, her absolute loyalty to her party -- so steadfast in her beliefs, yet understanding and compassionate according to many ordinary people who had the opportunity to meet her personally.”
The United Force also stated: “Mrs. Janet Jagan will always be with us because she is that part of our history where the courageous, the loyal and the visionary were the movers and shakers of this country.”
“The opportunities we enjoy today are the direct result of the blood, sweat and tears of Mrs. Jagan and all her colleagues who fought for them. They sacrificed so that today we can hold our heads high as a proud Guyanese nation.”
The United Force said, too, that Mrs. Jagan was in heart and soul a true Guyanese, the country she so readily adopted when she married her dear husband, Dr. Cheddi Jagan.
“So although this is a sad occasion, we are so very proud to salute one of the most powerful and genuine freedom fighter who had our nation’s interests at heart to the very end of her life and who has now gone to rest,” the party said.
Farewell dear lady and rest in peace,” it added.
Upper Corentyne Chamber expresses condolences on Mrs. Jagan’s passing
THE Upper Corentyne Chamber of Commerce and Industry (“UCCCI”) express their heartfelt condolences to the children, relatives, People Progressive Party and the Nation on the passing of the Former President of Guyana, Janet Jagan O.E
May her soul rest in peace
Guyanese people have indeed lost one of their most precious gems
THE Guyanese people have indeed lost one of their most precious gems. I agreed with the People’s Progressive Party General Secretary Donald Ramotar when he said that Guyana’s history was changed when she touched these shores in 1943.
Mrs. Janet Jagan played a great role in Guyana’s attainment of independence from its colonial masters. I could not help but notice the many people and all different races in the crowd at the state funeral. It was then that I realized that she was loved by the people of Guyana.
The women in Guyana are indeed empowered by what she did for them. Even though she was a foreigner she gave so much to this land and I believe that she did not deserve the treatment she received from some sections of society.
Mrs. Jagan was an outstanding journalist and until her death she was still writing articles. She has indeed made a mark on contemporary history in Guyana.
Guyana will never forget the Jagans and their contribution to this nation. Let’s take this time and reflect on the achievements of these great personalities.
Sincere condolences from Prem Persaud
ON the passing of the Hon Mrs Janet Jagan, OE, Former President and First Lady of Guyana, I take this opportunity to express on behalf of my family sincere condolences to her children, grands and other relatives.
As we travel along the corridor of life, we experience so many incidents and events which create lasting impressions, and guide our conduct. Our late President has been the beneficiary of varied and various lessons that enriched her life which she has lived beautifully, to the end. I remember witnessing at firsthand her courage and her determination, and despite the circumstances and environment in which she found herself in 1954 after the suspension of the Constitution in 1953, her grace and charm.
I was clerk to Magistrate Mr. Harold Brodie Smith Bollers at the Georgetown Magistrate’s Court when Mrs J appeared under police escort, charged with being in the unlawful possession of a Police Manual. It was the allegation of the Crown (we were a British Colony then) that such a manual was restricted to the possession and use by certain police officers, and it was illegal for such a document to be in the possession of private citizens. Her defence, led by Mr. Forbes Burnham, was that the manual was planted in her home by the Police when they invaded her residence ostensibly looking for banned literature. The magistrate did not believe the defence and convicted her as charged. The prosecution was headed by Sgt, Carl B. Austin (later Commissioner of Police).
The trial was for me a learning experience and the wit of defence council Burnham enlivened the proceedings. At one stage Mr. Burnham was making submission after submission and the magistrate was getting ruffled. At one point he responded to Burnham saying, “Mr. Burnham, I disagree and I submit…”. Counsel got quickly to his feet and with a wry smile and a bow retorted, “With respect, Your Worship, you cannot submit but only rule”. The Court was immediately adjourned by the magistrate, and Mrs J. had been enjoying the exchanges. During the trial she remained calm and completely relaxed and took the verdict with a smile. To me that displayed the strength of her character.
The magistrate sentenced her to a term of imprisonment of six months. The unenviable position fell to me to prepare the warrant of commitment for her to be taken to the prison.
The next occasion when I was in very close proximity to her was 44 years later when she was President of the Republic. In July, 1998, she administered the oath of office to me when I was appointed to act as Chief Justice. She apparently remembered, and said to me, “Times and circumstances have indeed changed over the years”. It was indeed a nostalgic moment and brought home the fact of our late President’s humility and memory for things long past.
It may not be inappropriate at this time to sum up her philosophy of life, and in the words of our own poet Martin Carter, as if she has spoken,
“And so if you see me looking at your hands
Listening when you speak
Marching in your ranks you must know
I do not sleep to dream but dream to change the world….”
Tributes from the Mayor and City Council
THE Mayor and Councillors of the City of Georgetown have expressed profound sadness at the news of the passing of former President of Guyana, Mrs Janet Jagan last , March 28, 2009.
Mrs Jagan served as a councillor at the Mayor and Town Council in 1951. In fact, she was the first female to be elected as a councillor at the Council. In January 8, 1951, the then Deputy Mayor moved a motion on citizens education: The Deputy Mayor, Hon. Lionel A. Luckloo, read the following motion: - “Whereas it is desirable that citizens should be kept informed on Municipal matters and whereas many useful contributions could be made by citizens for the welfare and progress of the city;
Be it resolved that the Council arranges for quarterly informed meetings in the Town Hall at which members of the Council may meet the citizens and discuss Municipal affairs.”
Councillor Janet Jagan seconded the motion and said that she considered it a very excellent motion. It gave voters an opportunity of hearing from their representatives the progress the Council was making and direct contact to review the past activities of the Council. Voters would also be able to express their views and make suggestions which could be brought before the Council. Therefore, she made a contribution to the development of the city of Georgetown.
Indeed, Guyana has lost a great leader whose life was multi-dimensional and well-balanced. Mrs Jagan placed herself at the service of the city and Guyana.
The Mayor and Councillors of the City of Georgetown extend sincere condolences to her children, Cheddi (Joey) Jnr, and Nadira -- and those, who loved and cared for her.
Public Relations Officer
Mayor and City Council
Janet Jagan’s contribution to Guyana invaluable – IAC
THE Indian Arrival Committee (IAC) wishes to express its deepest sorrow to the family and relatives of the late former President Janet Jagan and to the members of the People’s Progressive Party on her passing on Saturday, 28 March, 2009.
The IAC recognizes the monumental and indelible contribution made by the late former President in the areas of government, politics, journalism, women’s rights, arts and culture, history and literature, and to the general development of Guyana over a period of sixty-five years since her arrival in this country as the wife of the late Dr. Cheddi Jagan, Father of the Nation.
The IAC recognizes also the tremendous work she did as a fighter for national independence of Guyana for which she was imprisoned by the British; as a co-founder of the PAC, PPP and WPEO (later WPO); as a leading light in the movement for women’s rights; as a Minister in the government; as Prime Minister; and as President (1997-1999).
The IAC believes that she was a good role model, especially for her work ethic and, and for the fact that she had transcended race long before she came to this country.
The IAC recognizes that comrade Janet Jagan, who possessed great ideological clarity and depth, remained steadfast, unwavering and consistent in her beliefs, convictions and positions; and was the driving organizational force, conscience and guardian of the PPP until her demise.
The IAC believes, also, that in the history of this country this multi-dimensional, multi-faceted and multi-talented woman has had a long an illustrious career unequalled by anyone else.
Tribute from the Commonwealth Youth Programme
THE Commonwealth Youth Programme Caribbean Centre presents its compliments to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Foreign Trade and International Cooperation of the Republic of Guyana and has the honour to extend sincere condolences to the children and relatives of Her Excellency, the late Janet Jagan, Former President of the Republic of Guyana who passed away during the early morning of March 28.
The Commonwealth Youth Programme Caribbean centre avails itself of this opportunity to renew to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Foreign Trade and International Cooperation the assurance of its highest consideration.
Tribute from Mexico
THE Embassy of Mexico presents its compliments to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Foreign Trade and International Cooperation of the Republic of Guyana, on the occasion of expressing in the name of the Government and the people of Mexico, to the Government and people of the Republic of Guyana, its deepest condolences and profound sympathy for the passing of former president, Her Excellency Janet Jagan, a relevant personality in the modern history of the country.
The Embassy of Mexico avails itself of this opportunity to renew to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Trade and International Cooperation of the Republic of Guyana the assurances of its highest consideration.
Tribute from the British High Commission
ACTING British High Commissioner Mr. Simon Bond said he was saddened to hear the news of the death of former President Janet Jagan and is extending his sincere condolences to Mrs. Jagan’s family, the Government and people of Guyana.
He said in a press statement that Mrs. Jagan’s tireless and lifelong service and commitment to the people, politics and Government of Guyana is well known.
He said her contribution to Guyana’s social and economic development has been enormous and she will be greatly missed in Guyana and beyond.
PSC mourns with the nation
The Private Sector Commission (PSC) wishes to express its profound sadness at the passing of former President Mrs. Janet Jagan.
Over the past 66 years, Mrs. Jagan has contributed immensely to the fabric of our country’s political and social infrastructure, the PSC said in a release..
“Along with her late husband, Dr. Cheddi Jagan, Mrs. Jagan was one of the giants that enriched national consciousness and dignity by relentlessly opposing a world order that entrenched colonizers in their unequal relationship with the colonized. Her unwavering commitment to the ideals of a just world energized her life as a political and social missionary and the nation should eternally honour her memory.
“The Commission wishes to extend condolences to her family, the People’s Progressive Party and the Government of Guyana” the release concluded.