Cheddi Jagan’s legacy will be alive for generations to come
...audience told at opening of 100th birth anniversary exhibition
The University of Guyana (UG) has begun a series of events to mark the 100th birth anniversary (today) of late President Dr Cheddi Jagan, with the University’s Registrar saying that Dr Jagan’s legacy is alive and will be for generations to come.
“It can hardly be disputed that whenever Guyana’s path to independence is discussed, one name will forever be mentioned – the late Dr Cheddi Jagan,” said Professor Nigel Gravesande at the opening of the exhibition Wednesday at the University’s Turkeyen campus.
“The contributions of this seminal leader will eternally be honoured and remembered as his dedication to fight to gain this country’s independence from the rulership of the British and the aiding in the overall development of Guyana can never go unnoticed.
“Despite continuous setbacks, Dr Jagan never lost hope and remained steadfast in his aim to make Guyana a better place,” Dr Gravesande said.
It was under Dr Jagan’s administration and under his Minister of Education Dr Cedric Nunes that the University of Guyana began in 1953 with night classes at the buildings that house Queens College in Georgetown.
Dr Gravesande quoted historian Dr James Rose in noting that Dr Jagan’s life was a compelling struggle, first as a child, then as a student, as a nationalist and finally as an esteemed elder statesman.
Just nine days after Dr Jagan was sworn in as President following October 5, 1992, elections, Dr Gravesande said he was humbled to accompany the President to an inter-sessional meeting of Caribbean heads in Dominica.
Dr Gravesande quoted Dr Jagan’s speech in which he outlined the reason for his political career.
“I first wanted to be a doctor. I didn’t want to be merely a specialist and craftsman and cure individual aches and ills, but rather I wanted to cure the ills of society. I want to know that I have served humanity as a human being.”
Dr Gravesande quoted further from Dr Jagan’s speech: “All of us want recognition. I am not interested in recognition conferred on the basis of my bankroll. When I would have passed away, I would like for it to be recorded that Jagan did his bit in the service of humanity.”
As such, Dr Gravesande said that for many both at home and abroad it can be reasonably argued that Dr Jagan’s legacy is still alive and well and will continue to be so for generations to come.
He said the exhibition, which will be moved to various locations across the coast, is especially intended to educate young Guyanese about the life of Dr Jagan.
Dr Jagan’s daughter, Nadira Jagan-Brancier, said that she has spent the last 21 years compiling the works of her father and will soon publish these online.
“I am amazed at the amount of work my father was able to accomplish in his lifetime; the quality of his work is overwhelming.
“When I think I have photocopied all the papers for a given year I still come up and find more.
“I look back at some of these years and wonder how he was able to write so much, be an active politician here in Guyana, participate in world events overseas and also be a loving son, husband, father, brother and grandfather,” she stated.
Mrs Jagan-Brancier quoted her mother, former late President Mrs Janet Jagan, in reflecting on the life her father lived.
“He was, first of all, an honest man – a man of genuine integrity. A man’s whose hands were clean throughout his whole life. I emphasise this quality because his unabashed honesty was a quality that led to trust and trust is a very important aspect of life, particularly political life.
“He was trusted by all, even those who disliked his policies and his belief. In his whole lifetime, there was never a shadow cast by any doubt of his integrity.”
Historian, Professor Winston McGowan, noted that while Dr Jagan and his party the PPP had to endure repeated “fraudulent” elections from 1968 to 1985, he never gave up hope.
He said that Dr Jagan never forgot his humble origins and never forgot the poor and dispossessed.
Professor McGowan noted that Dr Jagan possessed humility of character and that characterised his lifestyle as being one of simplicity and frugality.
“He never accumulated wealth,” Professor McGowan noted.