Veteran journalist Sharief Khan passes on
The media fraternity has once again been plunged into mourning with the sudden passing of another of its stalwarts, Sharief Khan, a few months shy of achieving the age of 60.
Khan collapsed and died around 09:00 hours yesterday at his Ogle, East Coast Demerara residence, which he shared with his mother and brother, as he was preparing for another day at work in the Press and Publicity Unit of the Office of the President.
To relatives and colleagues, his death was a shock since Khan showed no signs of being unwell within recent days, although he had developed a critical heart condition.
His nephew, Javed Khan, told this newspaper that Khan was his normal self mere minutes before he collapsed.
“He gave his mother, Shariefan, some juice this morning (yesterday) and talked normal to her then he went and took a shower. He came out, his cell phone rang, he went to it and then he said ‘oh shucks’…all we heard was oh shucks. Probably he had the pain and he fell. My uncle came in and he saw him on the ground he picked him up but he was already dead,” Javed Khan told this newspaper yesterday.
According to Javed, Khan underwent heart bypass surgery last year and was seeing a doctor regularly since then for what he described as a very fragile condition.
“This was so sudden. He went about his normal morning routine. It’s not that he was having some difficulty, or was sick or anything…he recovered from his surgery and everything was going normal so we didn’t expect this, but death is like that,” Javed said thoughtfully.
He indicated that arrangements are being made to have a swift burial which will follow a wake to be held at his parents’ residence at 61 Public Road, Philadelphia, East Bank Essequibo.
In a statement on Khan’s passing, the Guyana Press Association (GPA) expressed shock, adding that his death in February is a tough blow coming so soon after the media fraternity mourned the passing of Clem David in January of this year.
The GPA said that Khan has always been a passionate advocate for free speech and expression, particularly during the time that he served and lived as a journalist in Guyana prior to the historic elections of 1992.
“He has supported most programs of the GPA and was unwavering in his loyalty to the fraternity. He assisted the younger journalists and guided them even during press conferences when his “sotto voce murmuring” would indicate to them that they were either following the right or tripping over the wrong angle,” the GPA statement said.
“We in the Press Association are extremely conscious that we have lost one of the most experienced journalists in the country and the Caribbean,” it added.
According to the GPA, Sharief Khan was an active member of the media for more than three decades, ever since the days when he walked into the offices of the late Carl Blackman at the Daily Chronicle and asked to be a correspondent from West Demerara.
He served as the founding Chief Reporter at Stabroek News from 1986 to 1992. Khan also worked at the Radio Demerara Newsroom. He was a stringer/correspondent for the BBC, CANA, Radio Antilles and Reuters for several years, travelling extensively covering the news when and where it happened.
Current Editor-in-Chief of the Guyana Chronicle, Mark Ramotar, said that he considered Khan a mentor and very dear friend. Ramotar had worked under Khan at the Chronicle during his tenure as Editor-in- Chief from November 1992 to February 2008.