There are several people in our society who contribute selflessly to the development of their communities and by extension the country in which they live.
These are individuals who do what they have to do without any expectation of reward. These are the ones who are referred to as the ‘unsung heroes’ and whose services and contribution sometimes go unnoticed even by those who would have benefited from their contributions over the years.
I have written in an earlier column that the greatest of all service is service to humanity, especially when such services are not driven by any desire for gratification of a personal nature.
I had cause to reflect on these sentiments recently when I attended the funeral services of two party faithfuls, Mr. Eari Esoop of Linden and Ms. Rozena Razack of Better Hope, East Coast Demerara. Rose, as she was fondly called, was unfortunately struck down on her way home after work and died about a week later. She never regained consciousness.
She was at the time of her death an active member of the Women’s Progressive Party. Esoop on the other hand died due to old age out of natural illness. He was well into his eighties even though he did not look his age.
He was quite fit and agile and up to the time of his death was an active member of the Party Group in Linden.
He was a staunch member and supporter of the PPP in the Linden community and was at one time a member of the Central Committee of the People’s Progressive Party.
Because of his loyalty and commitment to the ideals of the Party, he was awarded a Medal of Outstanding Service at the last Congress of the PPP.
I remember Rose when she was a student of the Cummings Lodge Secondary School. I was her Social Studies teacher and I have recollections of her early school days as a tiny student who I hardly could have imagined at that time to have developed such a great passion for political activism. She was one of those persons who seem always willing to chip in whenever there was political work to do.
There is hardly a political activity in her community that she was not involved in one way or the other, a clear indication of her commitment and loyalty to her party and government.
I cannot say that I have known Mr. Esoop personally for that long. I knew him from his writings during the days of the PNC when he would write in the letter columns of the Mirror newspaper highlighting the struggles and sacrifices of the bauxite workers at the hands of the PNC administration.
He was a good writer. I remember how I used to enjoy his columns since his writings always brought out a particular perspective on the working class struggle that was rooted in progressive ideas. He staunchly defended the rights of the workers and also took positions on the broader issue of democracy and the struggle for a better Guyana.
He was highly influenced by the ideals of a society in which there is social justice and where there is no exploitation of man by man. As such, he found a natural ally in the PPP.
At his funeral ceremony, members of the PPP were in attendance. Unfortunately, PPP General Secretary Mr. Donald Ramotar was unable to attend due to other pressing duties but the Party was represented by PPP Central Committee members Harripersaud Nokta, Neil Kumar and the writer of this column. Glowing tributes were made by all those who spoke including relatives, friends and Party leaders present.
Mr. Nokta spoke of his early association with him when there was lot of hostility towards the Party by PNC-inspired thugs who would pounce on opposition members or those who dared to challenge perceived political hegemony on the part of the PNC in that community.
The PNC considered Linden as its stronghold and any attempt to do political work was frowned upon and met with fierce resistance.
Despite the hostility and resistance from the PNC, Esoop never gave up. He fearlessly defended the PPP and remained steadfast in his conviction that the working class interest of the people of Linden and for that matter the entire Guyanese community could only be represented by the PPP.
It was not easy in those days for an Afro-Guyanese to associate openly with Dr. Jagan and the PPP but Aesop defied the odds and worked his way up to become one of the trusted leaders of the Party and rose to the leadership of the Party as a member of the Central Committee.
Mr. Neil Kumar, Central Committee member of the PPP also spoke of the hard and difficult experiences meted out to Mr. Esoop during his days as a Party Organizer responsible for Linden.
He recalled that when the Carter team visited the country during the pre-1992 period to assess the state of elections preparedness, he was taken by the Party to Linden to see firsthand the electoral irregularities of the PNC regime due to the thorough and well documented political work done by Mr. Esoop in previous elections.
It is to the credit of comrades like Esoop and Rose (who also lived in Linden for some time with her parents before relocating to the East Coast of Demerara) that the PPP is today the largest and most representative party in the country today.
For the first time in its political history the PPP won a seat in Parliament from Region Ten, an indication of how much race relations have changed since those early years and the growing respect and popularity of the Party among Lindeners.
My condolences to the relatives friends and comrades of these two comrades who died. They will surely be missed.