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Remembering Janet Jagan in Prose & Verse

 

Baptiste, Sandra Ann - Janet Jagan - Woman of Substance - March 2009 Poem

Bowry, Stephanie - Lady Janet  Poem

Chandarpal, Navin - Long live our Comrade Janet

Jailall, Peter - Blue-eyed Bhowgie -  Poem

Hosein, Clyde - Courage is the Woman Coming from Afar - Aug 1959  (PDF doc)

Monar, Rooplall - Fighter  - Poem 

Monar, Rooplall - Mother - Poem

Monar, Rooplall - President - Poem

Rampersaud, Krishna - For Janet - A True Heroine of Guyana - Poem

Silva, A - Lady of Guiana  - Poem

WPO - Comrade Janet  - Poem


Lady of Guiana

by Antonis Silva (written many many years ago and dedicated to Cde. Janet Jagan)

Lady of Guiana
You nursed us like a child
and guarded our growth
From a speck of light
To a living Flame.

In the darkest days of our struggle
Your people stood side by side
To forge a mighty Guiana
Out of our city of slaves.

Now a serpent has found a place
In the hearts of our people
Licking his tongue of treachery
Silent and unknown.

In the midst of our lambs
The Sheperd of corruption
Streaches their hands
For thirty pieces of Silver.

Now our people become strange in many ways
Not like the flesh of our flesh
But like a plague of sorrow
That thrives only for a while.

Forgive this spark of ingratitude
For they that worship Cowards
Will some day wake out of their slumber of deceit
Like an angry tide of regret
Flowing with the mighty current of Freedom.

  © Antonis Silva

 

Blue -Eyed Bhowgie

by Peter Jailall (From "This Healing Place and other Poems")

The real Bhowgie
Is the blue-eyed Bhowgie
Who came from America
To join the struggle
With the comrades
At Freedom House

The real Bhowgie
Is the blue-eyed Bhowgie
Who walks down canal dam
Hand-in hand with the people
Asking them
"A wa a yu a du gal?

The real Bhowgie
Is the blue-eyed Bhowgie
Who taught women
About exploitation
And sexism
Long before women's lib

The real Bhowgie
Is now the First Lady.

© Peter Jailall

 

Comrade Janet

by unknown author - Member of WPO (Women's Progressive Organisation)

Dear Comrade Janet!
Daughter of all America,
Mother and Sister of its citizens,
Bouquets bloom for you
in the hearts of the liberated and oppressed.

Dear Comrade Janet!
'Tis twenty-five years;
Yet you gallantly fetch the torch of struggle.
Your virtues glitter across the Caribbean
inspiring and enthusing our dark off-springs.

Dear Comrade Janet!
Cowardice is alien in your existence:
Your presence radiates confidence in us.
You're the ideal woman:
You're the pride of International Women's Year.

Dear Comrade Janet!
The W.P.O. salutes you -
indefatigable, immortal leader and fighter.
The cries of Hurah! Hurah!
echo from Roraima to Corentyne,
filled with affection and admiration
for the most outstanding Guyanese woman.

 

For Janet - A True Heroine of Guyana

by Krishna Rampersaud

For over fifty long years you stood hand in hand
When you both made a patriotic vow to defend our motherland.
We did not know then, how prophetic those words will be
When you swore to all of us that you’re now a Guyanese.

For over fifty glorious years you stood behind the man
Who made a promise to the people to take back our native land…
From the colonial masters who with greed and might..
Trampled on our dignity and did not expect us to fight.
And like the flame you lit inside his heart with love
Proceed to show your mettle and your own true worth.

You’ve come a long way since those eventful days
When you stood up for love of freedom in many ways.
The trials and tribulations you faced, did not daunt your grace
As you steadfastly stood beside the one in whom you put your faith.

Marches, processions and peaceful demonstrations all lead you to jail
But somehow through it all with his support, your will and strength prevail.
You never gave up although they tried to bend you to their will…
Instead suffered for all of us and for that we love you still.

The faith and love of family can take one through hell and back
And with yours behind you, you never looked back.
Through all the hard times and grief and the turmoil in our land
You never turned your back on us but continued the struggle in your stand..
For Peace, Progress and Prosperity…
That Cheddi and Janet brought to our dear and native land.

Now that your partner in life is no more there with you,
There is a sense of satisfaction that his imprint on our history is linked with you.
For it was with you beside him… that made all our dreams so real
As you continue to champion our cause with charm, dedication and zeal.

© Krishna Rampersaud

 

 

Long Live our Comrade Janet

by Navin Chandarpal

JJ came and graced our motherland
Helping Cheddi form the People’s Band
To free Guyana she gave her all
Fighting firm and standing tall

She opened up some brand new worlds
For our Women and our Girls
She showed Education as a power tool
And encouraged sending Girls to school

She battled strong to give Women
Their rightful place beside the Men
She sided with the Poor and Weak
Equality for All she would always seek

She worked each day our Party to build
She was forceful and strong willed
She scolded when you did things wrong
She wanted the Party to be very strong

She showed great courage in the fight
To counter evil and do what’s right
Across the world she’s honoured well
As a Leading Female Rebel

Private Citizen ? – not at all
Public Duty was her call
Her heroic deeds we can’t forget
Long live our Comrade Janet

© Navin Chandarpal

 

Janet Jagan - A Woman of Substance

by Sandra Ann Baptiste

An American from Chicago was born
it was Guyana that she devoted her life to reform

The backbone, stalwart and matriarch of the PPP
she devoted her life to Cheddi and bringing Guyana prosperity

Her political journey was laced with hardships, the worse being in a cell
perseverance, grit and fortitude saw her through this trying spell

A champion for educating girls and pressing for women's rights
the poor like domestics and cane cutters, Janet rescued from their plights

In the struggle for independence and end to dictatorship she was at the forefront an indelible mark she left as one of those who bore the brunt

Janet fought for democracy and spreading the country's wealth
she's still regarded by many as Guyana's best ever Minister of Health

Steadfast in her beliefs, calling a spade a spade was her trait
she minced no words when it came to a debate

Janet dwelled not on church and religion
but morals, integrity and justice were hallmarks of her dominion

A veteran journalist, J.J. used her pen to expose oppression
fearless and like a battle axe, she was a tough cookie in opposition

Her ascension to the Presidency was the first the Caribbean had seen
but opposing forces vulgarly tried to crush her dream

A humble person from her early beginnings
even as Her Excellency, she shunned the trimmings

A kind and loving mother and grandmother, Janet treated her kin like gold
she also made time to listen to everyone's woes - both young and old

She helped lure me back to set up Go-Invest
her continued support aided me to give of my best

An inspiration to Guyanese from all walks of life, she was never a quitter
the woman with the common touch had no time to be bitter

A political icon, Guyana and its people have undoubtedly lost
never forget the value this woman of substance brought and at what cost

© Sandra Ann Baptiste

 

Fighter

by Rooplall Monar

Your heart was pierced
by the arrow of compassion
           bidding your time
           in your northern clime
young and green as you were
 

Brows knitted in a sight
           of reckless torture
decapitation and innocent death…….
bludgeoned by the blades of history
…….craze and mania for Empires
tangling the web in your feet
sleep tossed by broken bodies
stench of blood…
              draining your own blood
 

And your breath of compassion
was stamped with a noble vision
as you flung your country aside
and with Cheddi in your stride
flew to this mutilated captive land

 
lure for plunder and auction
lascivious bidders weaving a tapestry
             of evening lechery
cries of slaves and immigrants
sugared the wine of their surfeit
            incest and greed
clouding their offspring’ feet….
 

With Cheddi in your stride
Enmore ’48 was the auspicious tide
that powered your raft
           the shaft of light……
 

drawing in your fold
disenfranchised faces
         ruptured laces deflowered
by ruthless carnivores
          on beds of sugarcanes ….
 

You kneaded moulded, planting
           a hope of bridges….
bridges of creeks and rivers
stepping with your disenfranchised
         the dispossessed
into a realm of filled bellies
land cropped at its brim
in which rightful dignity
           social equality
are euphoric metaphors
lulled in their dreams
 

Sturdy in fortitude.
          swift as a panther
with your padres alongside
banners draped high in red
you kept marching
          squatting knocking,
knocking by the gates of freedom:
‘equality for one and all….’
 

acts of brutality
           bullets and bars
brewed in the pit of your stomach
Governor’s rod atop your head
but relentlessly you persisted in your vision
         pounding shaking, shattering
         the stubborn gate:
gait of our own prison
 

And it had to open
(this gate of freedom)
but ingloriously
and not in sympathy
with your burning ideals
 

So with your marks imprinted here
(with Cheddi stallion in your fair)
which text in its deliberation
could dare say your steeps
are not ennobled
          calligraphed in stones:
         stanchion that shapes
the conscience
of this Nation

 © Rooplall Monar

 

Lady Janet

by Stephanie Bowry

We first met
Lady Janet and me
Face to face
On a night of poetry.
I read.

She listened
And said to me
"I really like your poetry."
She thought I was wonderful.

I thought she was kind.
I left Hotel Tower
With nice thoughts in my mind.

And between nights of poetry
Our thoughts
Mine and the Lady's
Communicated silently.
And on every night of poetry
My verse celebrated her company.

For she was a Jewel as in  J
Definitely Admirable as in A
Altogether Noble as in N
Positively Enriching as in E and
Sweetly Thoughtful as inT.

But she had labored sufficiently
Had done her tasks efficiently
And God rewarded her Eternity.

Now she sits with the stars of the Galaxy
While Angels read their poetry.

© Stephanie Bowry

 

Mother

by Rooplall Monar

You too
have suckled your young
exuding warmth of tenderness
a changing of diapers ….
the kisses the lullabies
your soft morning shadow casting
a glow of affection –
beggars stalking the streets for crumbs

You have steered your kitchen deftly
swept floors and cupboards
fingers entwined in medley
of dishes, tea brewing on the stove
blinds and bedsheets
tucked by your soft touch
pillow of hope showered
with abiding love:
the tower of dreams ……

And like your restless disempowered sister
you too have squelched in mud
grime and soot
ate with your hands
fingers licked in relish,
patiently counting the pennies
stretched into an artifice
of filled bellies
a change of garments –
that leak in the roof

you too have nursed your husband
magnified his dreams –
a roost on which to ease
his tired limbs
shuffling with the children’s lessons

their change of gears
the evening homework ….

Indeed you have tightened
your belly
quelled sensual needs
ploughing scrace dollars
in kiths and kins
whose professions are stained
with the angle of your presence

You have graced ceremonies:
temples mosques chapels…
a conspicuous sight
in social gatherings
arms outstretched in its bid
for counseling, consolation
‘to the poor and needy:
breathing foul air,
the germ of logies and tenements
spanning wards and cemetries

graying head thrown black
in your armchair by the library
fingers twiddling with pen
and paper plotting another story,
have you ever regretted
the course…..
the twists and painful turns
your life had taken
wishing it were full of simplicities:
a domesticated mother
proud of her daily chores
future of her children ……

© Rooplall Monar       

 

President

by Rooplall Monar

‘…………..You must carry on ….’
through shocking and quite unprepared
for the Herculean task ahead
body weakened by the trials
for Democracy
crushing grief for a loved one
you retrieved your ailing spirit
surveyed the domain
and in your hours of deliberation
(the words sizzling
hastening propelling)
you summoned your padres
seeking counsel

‘yes’ you must carry on ….’
they urged wisely round the table,
your charisma and noble sacrifices ….
the light shown to them,
were scissors of leadership
guiding the finality in their choice

But in the stable of your mind
the rigorous task was contemplated
though groomed you were
for such demanding roles;
the toll of hours
round of engagements
the burden of a country

But the goodwill of your people,
pricking the mainspring
in your conscience,
drove you to the challenge

Yes ‘you must carry on…’
for how could you scoff
from your thrusted duty
mandated by an electorate
who trusted implicity in
your ability
(to carry on…)
govern the Nation

But roaches, sired in vanities
their selfish ambitions at stake,
flouted the rules of electoral legitimacy
and in their bent to make you ungovernable
sowed seeds of strife and disorder
parading the streets as good shepherds,
their flocks led into bursts
of rampage and loot…
terror struck in the hearts
of the innocent……

Only you and your pardres knew
the agony, nightly agues
(painful reminder of a loved one )
thwarting your sincere thrust
for Peace by other realms
who knew you were
the duly elected head:
strength and hope of your people

and you have persevere
as Roaches, curled in pits of disdain
sunting in dens and alleyways,
hatched acts of mischief
the beast of cunning in their claws…..

and in your quest for growth
national cohesion
you had to sign accords
displaying your true humanity

You didn’t have to but
you relinquished
citing health and the need for young blood, one with
youth and enduring vitality
so the nation could be steered
on a level course

No one could say
your dispensation
was not the continuation
of democracy
your name carved in the annals
of our texts and elsewhere…

But in the confines
of your mind
only you know the ordeals
the mammoth sacrifice……

© Rooplall Monar